With the recent prediction from economist Nouriel Roubini, who foresaw the 2008 economic crisis, that below trend growth is expected over the next few years, there’s even more reason for pessimism from financially beleaguered Americans. The primary concern is a decrease in disposable income due to the expiration of tax cuts. The economy needs robust private spending to reach its potential.
This news comes several months after a study conducted by the Consumer Federation of America with the American Savings Education Council found that fewer Americans are saving their money. Sixty-six percent of Americans spend less than their income and save the difference, a 7% decrease from 2010. Americans also aren’t performing as well in other savings indicators: Compared to 2010, 5% fewer have sufficient emergency savings and 5% fewer are building home equity.
Stephen Brobeck, CFA Executive Director and a founder of AmericaSaves, posits the data indicates the economy has continued to impact Americans for the worse. “The recession clearly has not ended for millions of American families, especially those with lower incomes,” Brobeck said in a press release. “Many working families are still apparently suffering from the high unemployment rate, stagnant incomes, and a depressed housing market.”
The decrease in savings has inevitably affected Americans’ long-term financial outlook. A LIMRA survey released in April revealed that 49% aren’t contributing to any retirement plan. Fifty-six percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are included in that group, a statistic that reflects a larger trend among young Americans, who increasingly find themselves in debt in large part because of the increasing cost of college tuition.
Want to ensure you make it out of the next few years unscathed? Manage your money in way that keeps you financially secure: Don’t spend more than you have. Get out of debt. Always put a little money aside for savings. Draft a long-term financial plan including goals that correspond with your expected income. To get there, however, you will need to save money everywhere you can, which is why you should employ the assistance of the best money saving apps.
High-Powered Coupon Apps
Long gone are the days when mom spent Sunday afternoons poring over newspaper ads and clipping coupons to add to her brick-sized coupon book. Now that we’re wired 24/7, we can use our connectivity to the advantage of our bank accounts, perusing a few apps on our smartphones to find the best deals when we’re on the go.
- Valpak: In its quest to help you maximize your buying power, Valpak composes perhaps the most comprehensive coupon book available for consumers, encompassing everything from beauty products to oil changes. If you prefer not the thumb through the booklet, you can download the app, which consolidates everything in an easy-to-use format. Its convenient Savings For You feature enables you to group nine offers from your area and receive a notification once a week alerting you when they become available. You can present the coupons to cashiers via your phone or use your iPad app to print them out.
- Coupon Sherpa: Not every retailer works with every coupon provider, so it’s important to make use of multiple coupon books. Coupon Sherpa is the exclusive coupon provider of several big-time retailors whose discount offerings you won’t want to miss. It boasts a hardworking staff that’s constantly searching the internet to collect the most useful deals. This app is easy to use, as it sorts coupons by category and stores them by name. You can organize and prioritize your findings by creating your own favorites list. If you see something that might appeal to a friend, you have the ability to pass it along.
- Yowza!! Mobile Coupons: Yowza approaches merchants directly so it can build the most comprehensive resource for savings. Deals are added daily to ensure there’s always a something for you. Searches revolve around your city or zip code, bringing you instant results for when you’re in a savings crunch. Cashiers can scan the coupons straight from your smartphone, and you can track your savings, a tool that enables you to measure your overall financial progress.
- GeoQpons: With both in-store and online coupons, GeoQpons has the resources to suit your every need. Searching by coupon category, you can find the best deals at restaurants or grocery stores in your area when you’re hungry and pressed for time. If you don’t want to spend too much time maneuvering though the app, you can consolidate coupons from your favorite stores. Run across an expensive item? Use the barcode scanner to see if there’s a coupon for that.
Apps for Smart Shoppers
If you’re a coupon saver, then it’s reasonable to assume that you’re a smart shopper. Unfortunately, there aren’t coupons for everything, and sometimes you have to use dig a little deeper to find the best deals.
- RedLaser: Avoid impulse purchases by comparing prices from inside the store. For example, if you run across an action figure that your son has been bugging you about and the price seems a little steep, you can scan the barcode and RedLaser will instantly bring you the prices of the same item at nearby stores or thousands of online retailers. What’s more, you can scan food to see if it contains any allergens.
- CompareMe: Hardcore bargain hunters who refuse to spare a penny when shopping appreciate CompareMe, which “compares and converts prices of products with many different package sizes, volumes, lengths.” A recent update allows you to find price per unit information with the touch of a button.
- GroceryPal: Grocery shopping is a major expense for the average consumer. Assuming you make a once-weekly or bi-monthly trip to the store, as opposed to eating out every night, it’s probable that you have a plan in place to minimize the amount you spend during each trip. GroceryPal makes the whole process easier by guiding you to sale items at the major grocery stores, pharmacies, and discount stores. The most recent update saves you even more money, supporting mobile coupons that are accepted almost everywhere.
- GrocerySmart: A common problem faced by many grocery shoppers is the tendency to make purchases not confined to their shopping lists, causing them to spend more than they planned. Grocery Smart keeps track of your list, allows you to add notes, and allows you to check off items as you add them to your cart. It helps you remain a disciplined shopper.
Apps for Inexpensive Travel
Summer’s arrival likely means that you’ll be partaking in a jaunt or two. The expenses can add up while you travel, as few purchases are more costly in bulk than plane tickets and overnight stays. When spending thousands, you can be saving hundreds. These apps will help reduce the pain that comes with that inevitable post-trip hangover.
- GasBuddy: You can’t control the fluctuation of gas prices, but you can shave a few bucks off your cost of consumption. When you’re low on fuel and need to find the nearest gas station, GasBuddy will locate the nearest locations, give you the prices, and give you directions so you won’t drive in circles trying to find one.
- Kayak: If you didn’t book a hotel room, flight, or car rental and need one fast, Kayak will provide you results from your current location or destination. You can find the best deals and incorporate them into your trip itinerary, without missing a beat in your busy schedule. This app doesn’t spare the details, giving you the chance to look up baggage fees and anticipate currency changes.
- Skyscanner: You can book an inexpensive flight in a snap with Skyscanner. Taking into account when and where you choose to fly, it finds and compares fares from almost every airline that flies the friendly skies. Of course, saving isn’t always the No. 1 priority, especially if you’re in a bind, which is why it allows you to sort results by airline and take off/landing time (in addition to price). Traveling abroad and speaking a different language? Tired of switching back and forth from English? It’s available in 28 languages.
- DailyGobble: When looking for a restaurant in a new town, use Daily Gobble to find the ones offering discounts. All you’re required to do is snap a photo of your receipt and send it to Daily Gobble, which will send you a discount within an hour. This app is perfect for those situations where you would prefer not to present a coupon in the company of others – and those times do occur.
Financial Apps to Track Your Savings
Amid all the different measures you take, managing your finances can become quite complicated. Because most of your purchases are made on the go, referencing the current status of your finances and tracking your progress (or setbacks) may seem laborious. However, there are a few tools to ensure you always make the right decisions with your money.
- Mint: Mint puts all your financial accounts in once place, organizing and categorizing your spending. You can set goals and budgets, and reference where you stand at any time. Need to know how much money is in your bank account before making a big purchase? Log in and check with its secure settings. If you lose your phone, all of your financial information will remain protected.
- CalcMoolator Pro: If math isn’t your strength, then CalcMoolator can help. With more than 180 different calculators, you can figure out everything from whether or not you should lease or buy to how much more money you’ll need to save to retire.
- Pageonce: Not only does Pageonce allow you access to all your accounts – from savings to loans – but it also allows you to pay all your bills directly from your phone, accomplishing it quicker than a website would. Looking out for your financial well-being, Pageonce sends alerts when a bill is due, late fees have been charged, and suspicious activity has been spotted.