10 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Save $1,000+

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10 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Save $1,000+
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At first glance, your smartphone -- with its upfront cost and monthly data plan requirement -- may not seem like the most frugal device. With the right apps, however, your phone can earn its keep by helping you find bargains and cut costs in other areas of your life. Check out these 10 apps that can help you save money in the coming year.

Netflix (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
Netflix

Netflix (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

Kick your cable habit and make the move to Netflix. With thousands of movies and television shows, including a robust selection of programming for kids, it’s a bargain at only $8 a month, a definite savings over the average monthly cable bill of $86 (this and all pricing here as of end of 2012). You aren’t limited to just watching programs on your smartphone or tablet, either -- if you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you can watch them on your television using the optional HDMI adapter.

Netflix

Skype for Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
Skype

Skype for Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

If you have friends and family overseas, those international calls can really eat into your budget. The mobile version of Skype offers the same low calling rates as the Web version without tethering you to your computer; you can make and receive calls from your smartphone or tablet from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Skype for Mobile

Textfree (iOS, Android; free)
Pinger

Textfree (iOS, Android; free)

Text messaging plans range from $10 to $30 per month, and if you go over your limit, the costs can easily spiral out of control. Thanks to Textfree, you can cut this monthly cost without missing a beat. Unlike some free texting apps that limit you to texting other users, Textfree actually assigns you a real phone number, which means that you can text with anyone you want, regardless of carrier. Messages are unlimited, and the app supports photo and video messages as well.

Textfree

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)
RedLaser

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)

Become a savvy shopper with RedLaser, a comparison-shopping app that makes it easy to find the best price on any item. Use the bar-code scanner to quickly pull up a list of online and local shops that carry the item you’re looking for, or type the name in manually if you don’t have a bar code to scan. The app provides both local and online results to help you find the deals that are most relevant to what you're looking for.

RedLaser

GasBuddy (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
GasBuddy

GasBuddy (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

Tired of emptying your wallet every time you fill up your tank? GasBuddy uses your phone’s built-in GPS to display the price of gas at stations around you, so you can avoid overpaying; it even provides driving directions to the place you choose, making it great for road trips. Prices are crowd-sourced and include time stamps to indicate when they were last updated so you don’t waste time chasing down a low price that no longer exists.

GasBuddy Mobile Apps

App Shopper (iOS; free)
AppShopper

App Shopper (iOS; free)

An app here and there may not seem like much, but those little charges can quickly add up to a big bill, especially if you download one or two new apps a week. Before you hit the App Store, check out App Shopper to see what apps are now free or on sale. Add your most coveted apps to your wish list and get notified automatically when they go on sale, or browse through recent markdowns by category and price.

AppShopper

Airbnb (iOS, Android; free)
Airbnb

Airbnb (iOS, Android; free)

If you’re a traveler with a taste for adventure, skip the sterile, overpriced hotel room for a place with all the comforts of home -- because it actually is someone’s home. Airbnb connects travelers around the world with hosts who are willing to rent spare rooms -- and often entire apartments -- for a price that’s often less than a comparable hotel. You can read reviews from previous visitors to make sure your host is legit, and the app even features a wish-list function for saving places you might want to visit in the future.

Airbnb Mobile

TurboTax SnapTax (iOS, Android; free)
TurboTax

TurboTax SnapTax (iOS, Android; free)

Skip the long wait and high fees at your local tax prep office and check out SnapTax, a free app that makes filing your taxes simple. Just snap a photo of your W-2, answer a few quick questions, and you’re ready to send your return to the IRS, all from your smartphone. The app is designed for people who typically file a 1040EZ or 1040A.

TurboTax SnapTax

Mint.com Personal Finance (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy Mint.com

Mint.com Personal Finance (iOS, Android; free)

Watch your savings grow and your debt dwindle when you connect your accounts to Mint.com’s free mobile app. Not only can you see at a glance what your current bank and credit card balances are, you can also see where your money is going and set up a budget to keep you on track. Low balance notifications alert you when you’re in danger of overdrafting your bank account, and due date reminders keep those pesky credit card late charges at bay, saving you money and protecting your credit score at the same time.

Mint Mobile Apps

EasyShift (iOS, free)
EasyShift

EasyShift (iOS, free)

Spending money is unavoidable, but the sting is lessened when you can earn a few extra bucks just for doing your daily errands. EasyShift is an app that connects companies looking for mystery shoppers -- individuals who visit a business and provide feedback on a specific aspect -- to regular people like you. Tasks pay a varying amount, typically between $3 and $8, and may involve things like snapping a photo of an endcap display at a grocery store or checking for promotional pricing at a chain retailer. Your earnings are tallied in your profile, and you can cash out daily to PayPal.

EasyShift

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