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Managing your household finances

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(Alex Wong/2008 Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/2008 Getty Images)

Home Cents

The best apps for saving money Add to ...

The world of applications for mobile devices is expanding at super-nova speed. Among the thousands of new apps available for your smart phone are some designed to help you manage your personal finances. Whether you are looking for ways to save more money or just better track your spending, there are a lot of apps competing for your attention on the go. Since most of our spending is conducted outside of the home, mobile personal finance applications can come in handy. Here are some of the mobile apps I like to help manage the last mile of household budgeting.

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OurGroceries



Before heading to the grocery store, I always write a shopping list. It keeps me from making impulse purchases and spending more than I planned. I have tried several mobile apps for compiling grocery lists, but haven't found one that beats my handwritten list - until now. OurGroceries lets you not only easily create a shopping list on your mobile device, it allows you to share the list with others. Now, when I'm at the store and my husband wants to remind me to buy orange juice, he can edit the shopping list from his device and I'll see the update appear. The app is available for iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android devices and is a free download, funded by unobtrusive ads at the top of the screen.

moneyStrands

In a recent Home Cents entry about some of the top free online budgeting tools, I mentioned moneyStrands. The site, which launched at the start of 2009, allows you to sync to your financial institution, track bills and manage your household budget. This month, moneyStrands introduced a mobile application to help you track everyday spending and manage your budget on the move. Now all those small sums of cash you spend each day can be measured, instead of just disappearing into the mysterious miscellaneous bucket in your budget each month. MoneyStrands users can also assign the spending to a specific category in their online budgets. Available for iPhones only.



BillMinder

If you have trouble keeping track of when to pay all of your bills, this app is for you. As the first bill-tracking app available for iPhones, it has quickly become one of the most popular. The service allows you to see all of your bills and whether they have been paid or are past due. It also lets you categorize your bills by collector, record paid date and amount, and export to Excel. With the most recent version, you can sign up for push notifications that let you know how many new bills are due within your alert timeframe. Cost to download at the iTunes app store is $1.99.

Clip Mobile Coupons

There are many apps available that give shoppers access to coupons on their mobile devices, but most are geared to U.S. consumers. Apps such as Coupon Sherpa, Coupons.com and Yowza are gaining popularity south of the border, but there are fewer options for Canadian coupon clippers on the go. That's Clip Mobile's sweet spot. Clip Mobile allows Canadian consumers to search, save and redeem special offers from their favourite stores and restaurants in markets across the country. The coupons are listed directly by businesses, rather than aggregated from newspaper inserts or direct mailers. Just show the cashier the coupon on your mobile device and save money. Currently, only the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android platforms are supported by the free application, but Clip Mobile plans to add BlackBerry devices soon. iPhone and iPod Touch users can download Clip from the iTunes App Store. Android users can get the app by searching for "Clip Mobile" in the Android Market on your device with the Android OS.

PayPal Mobile



PayPal, the online provider that lets you transfer funds for free, introduced a mobile application for Canadians earlier this year. PayPal is already popular among Canadians - a PayPal account is used here every 1.2 seconds to make a purchase. Now PayPal is taking its service on the road with an app that lets iPhone users transfer funds on the go. The app comes with three new features called Bump, Split Check and Collect Money. A bump of two iPhones together will immediately transfer funds between two PayPal accounts. The Split Check feature lets users conveniently divide and quickly reimburse each other for the cost of a meal, including tip and tax, for up to 20 people. Collect Money allows users to request money from multiple people for a joint gift, team dues, concert tickets and more. More about managing your money than saving it, just be careful not to give in to an unintended purchase with an overly impulsive bump.

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