10 Money Saving Apps for College Students

Every September, I think about Pete, one of my Freshman college dorm mates, who signed up for about sixteen different credit cards his first week of school. He did this because they were “pretty” and he liked to take his collection out of his wallet 1) for show and 2) to spend – because, for all he cared, it was free money. I shudder at the memory. Poor Pete.

Attempting to learn financial responsibility in college is scary, but it’s a lot easier today with so many smart phone apps to help you shop savvy, manage your money, and save on the spot. And because college life is rich with ridiculous expenses (text books, overpriced food, and travel costs) it pays immensely to be a smart, smart phone shopper. Here are ten great apps to get you started:

  1. Campus Special: Campus Special is a mobile coupon book that uses your phone’s GPS to locate restaurants and business around your college’s campus. You’ll get access to exclusive deals; you can redeem coupons straight from your phone, and you can even order food through the app and have it delivered right to your dorm door.
  2. GasBuddy: Commuting to school? Taking weekend road trips or visiting friends at other universities? Gas can be a huge, unanticipated college expense, but GasBuddy lets you comparison shop for the best gas prices in your area, anytime, anywhere. (For a more extensive review of GasBuddy, click here.) Best part? The more you contribute to price updates, the more frequently you’re entered into a weekly drawing to win free gas.
  3. Hotel Tonight: College life isn’t necessarily about advanced planning, so when you’re taking a spur of the moment trip and need a hotel that day, Hotel Tonight is your hero. You can get great deals, day-of, on rooms at participating hotels, and you can even book for more than one night. (For a more in-depth review on Hotel Tonight, click here.)
  4. Tip N Split: You’re going to eat out a lot in college, which is great as long as you can count on everyone you’re eating with to play fair when tip times rolls around. That’s not always the case, but now you can easily split the tip based on everyone’s bill, in black and white, on your smart phone.
  5. Red Laser: This app lets you scan any major retail bar code on an item in-store and instantly pull up price comparisons on that item online and in other stores near you, so you can make sure you get the very best deal on any item possible. You can order online through the app too, if the best deal is not in your immediate vicinity.
  6. Wrapp: Want to give your friend a birthday present but can’t really afford it? Wrapp is a social, mobile gift giving app that lets you give free $5 an $10 dollar gift cards to your Facebook friends. It also lets you give more substantial, paid gift cards, and you can even split the cost amongst your other friends. (Read my review of Wrapp here.)
  7. Mint:  Mint is an amazing money management app that lets you keep track of your finances in one place. Mint links to all of your bank accounts and credit cards, creates budgets based on your actual spending, graphs your spending so you can see where your money is going, and reminds you to pay your bills on time.
  8. BigWords: This text book buying app helps you score the absolute best deal possible on textbooks by searching top discount sellers on the web and calculating all coupons and promotions, plus buyback rates and more.
  9. Starbucks: Starbucks and college go together but it can be an expensive combination. Register any Starbucks card online, and you can use it to pay for drinks through the app. Plus, for every 15 transactions on your Starbucks card, you’ll get a coupon for a free drink.
  10. Groupon: Tired of dining hall food? Achy after slumping over your desk for 12 hours straight? Groupon lets you get in on great group rates so you can dine out or get a massage at serious discounts.

Are you a college student?  What would YOU add to the list?  Email me at liz@snipsnap.it!



Top Ten Ways Your Smart Phone Can Save You Money

If you haven’t couponed, you simply haven’t lived. Coupons are the best way to buy more of what you need so you can afford what you want. If you clip coupons, I can almost guarantee your life is way better for it. But are you opened up to the whole world of mobile coupons, at your fingertips, on your smart phone, at all times?

It’s not a small world. Here are just the top ten ways you can make and save money with your smart phone:

  1. Mobile Coupon Apps  Mobile Coupon apps make it a breeze to save on the go, without paper.  Apps like SnipSnap, Yowza!!, and RetailMeNot are super-easy tools to track deals in your current location and redeem them straight from your mobile phone.
  2. Retail Apps  Tons of top retailers and restaurants have their own amazing apps that let you discover store locations, in-store savings, and coupons. Target, Walgreens, and P.F. Chang’s all make it fun and easy to get deals from your phone.
  3. Incentive Apps  Want a way to make shopping (and saving) even more fun? Interactive, incentive apps like shopkick pay you to shop. You earn points or kicks just for walking into a store and scanning items, and you can redeem your kicks for awesome rewards.
  4. Price Check Apps  Make sure you shop savvy with price comparison apps, like Red Laser, that let you know whether the price you’re about to pay is the best one you can get in your area. You can even compare gas prices with apps like GasBuddy!
  5. Facebook Offers Like a store or restaurant in real life? “Like” it on Facebook! Retailers are offering mobile deals to their Facebook fans all the time.  When you claim one, you’ll get an email coupon you can redeem right off your phone.
  6. Gift-giving Apps Like to give savings as much as you like to receive them? Gift-giving apps like Wrapp let you exchange free 5 and 10 dollars gift cards with your Facebook friends so they can save at great stores like Sephora, Roots, and Warby Parker.
  7. Social Network Subscriptions  Stay in the loop! Make sure you follow your favorite bloggers, companies, and coupon apps on Facebook, so you can stay up-to-date on all the latest offers and saving strategies.
  8.  Travel Apps  Travel apps like Hotel Tonight make it insanely easy to save on the go, even last minute. If you want a cheap hotel room, bus ticket, or air flight, there’s an app for that.
  9. Group Deals  Save in numbers! Top daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social have apps that let you get group deals and huge discounts from your phone.
  10. Text Coupons  You don’t even need a smart phone to save via text. Lots of retailers and restaurants like Jo-Ann’s and Arby’s have text message programs that deliver easy-to-use text coupons several times a week.

Of course, the best way to be a successful mobile couponer is to integrate many mobile saving methods into your lifestyle and couponing routine. But, I’ve got to know, if you could only choose one way to save off this list, which one would it be?


GasBuddy: The Smart Phone App You Need Now More Than Ever!

The longer you mobile coupon, the more you become convinced of your own consumer power to save, the more savings opportunities you see – even in places you’d normally feel powerless against high prices – like the gas station.

From CNNMoney:

If you visited the pumps this past Labor Day weekend, this is probably what you saw:

A series of unfortunate events (Hurricane Isaac and a fire at a major Chevron facility in Richmond) has sent gas prices skyrocketing. According to AAA, the price of regular gas climbed almost 10% in August, a jump that experts say is the largest in the last three years. The national average of a gallon of regular gas was at $3.80 on Labor Day 2012, a significant leap from the previous Labor Day record of $3.67 in 2008. And, while some experts predict that relief is within reach, savvy smart phone users are taking measures into their own hands, with an app that’s saving people hundreds at the pump each year.

I’m talking about GasBuddy, the social iPhone/iPad/iPod app that tracks gas prices across country and issues incentives like free gas to users who contribute the most data. Put simply: users report gas prices at the pumps in their area, while other users can search zip codes or use gps to locate nearby gas facilities and comparison shop from their phones – without having to drive around. Search the app and you’ll see the substantial range in gas prices throughout your area. Here’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods:

As you can see, there’s over $.30/gallon difference in price between the highest and lowest prices at my local pumps. I can use the app’s settings to select whether I want to display the search results based on price or location, but they’re all close enough to make it worth driving toward the biggest deal. In this case, selecting the best bang for my buck will save me over three dollars/every ten gallons I put in my car. If you drive 10,000 miles a year, at 23 miles per gallon, you’re buying over 400 gallons of gas a year. So that means, just by utilizing your best bet via GasBuddy, you could save over 100 dollars on gas annually!

It gets better! GasBuddy utilizes a user-incentive system that pays you for your input. When you download the GasBuddy app (for free) and sign up for an account, you’re rewarded with 100 points to start out. You earn 150 more points each time you add or update a gas price in your area (GasBuddy tells you when each price in your area was last updated so you get the most accurate information at all times).  You can earn points for up to 5 price reports a day. Once you have 1000 points (you could rack these up in a day or two just by paying attention when you drive), you’re entered into a weekly drawing to win a $250.00 gas card. Since every 1000 points you earn grants you one entry into the drawing, you up your odds the more you update your area’s gas prices.  Not bad!

Here are some recent, happy GasBuddy gas card winners:

Are you using GasBuddy to save big? Have another great tip for saving on gas? I want to hear about it! Email me at liz@snipsnap.it!