Do you ever feel like your money just disappears sometimes? You’re not making any major purchases, but for some reason, your bank account always seems depleted. Sometimes it’s the smallest expenses that do the most damage. Seemingly insignificant everyday expenses can add up and you often don’t notice.
Fortunately, all is not lost. Technology is making it easier for consumers to keep more money in their pockets. Here are five ways tech can help you save money on everyday expenses.
1. Gas Price Comparison Apps
As much as Elon Musk would like to change this, the majority of us drive cars that run on gasoline. With the ways gas prices fluctuate, it’s always hard to find a good deal. What’s even worse is filling up your tank only to drive 30 feet and see a gas station with significantly cheaper prices. Comparison apps help you avoid this situation.
An application or website like GasBuddy will show you the prices of all of the gas stations in your immediate vicinity. You can then make a more informed decision about your purchase. You can also pay through the GasBuddy app, saving you a few additional cents per gallon. While this may only be a few dollars per purchase, over the course of a year you could save thousands depending on how much you drive.
If you’re not too keen on adding another niche app to your phone, you may be in luck as many more apps have this functionality. Waze, AAA, and auto insurance companies like GEICO have added gas prices to their digital platforms as a convenience to their customers. Check it out if you already use these apps regularly.
2. Parking Discounts
Parking downtown in cities is a crazy process. First, you drive around looking for street parking, and when that doesn’t work you end up in a garage. In some cities, garages charge up to $10 an hour! This is a waste of your time and money and not sustainable if you need to pay to park more than a few times a week. Enter parking apps to save the day.
Apps like SpotHero, BestParking, and ParkMe provide users with a real-time database of the available street, lot, and garage spaces. You can save a spot in advance and avoid the uncertainty of not knowing where you’re going to park. More importantly, most of these apps negotiate lower hourly rates with garage owners. So not only do you have a guaranteed spot, but it’s also cheaper than what the typical person would pay.
These parking lot apps are not limited to downtowns. Many are now expanding into airport parking as well. Apps like Way connect users to lesser-known discount lots and underutilized parking areas (like hotel parking lots), saving customers more than 10 percent off of regular airport parking prices.
3. Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
When we talk about tech these days, we often referring to software and digital products, but keep in mind that physical technology can help save us money too. Light bulbs are a great example. According to the Department of Energy, 5 percent of home energy costs come just from lighting. This may not seem like much, but if you use lots of outdoor lighting or extra lighting in the winter, this can add up.
If you still have traditional incandescent bulbs in your house, it’s time to replace them. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) offer the most bang for your buck. Not only do they last longer than traditional bulbs (1000 vs more than 10,000 hours), they can also cut your light-related energy costs by more than half.
As we continue to use more energy-consuming products in our lives, swapping out light bulbs is a really a no brainer. You may notice that LEDs and CFLs may cost a few dollars more than traditional bulbs. Don’t worry–these bulbs will pay for themselves quickly and it won’t be long before you notice the change in your electricity bill.
4. Rebates and Refunds
There are a countless number of rebate apps (iBotta, Ebates, and RetailMeNot are some of the most popular) that give you cash back for items you’ve already bought. Many of them require you to scan or upload a photo of your receipt and you’ll get cash back for certain items or possibly the entire order.
While this type of rebate app is definitely valuable, you may not have the time to take pictures of every receipt, or maybe you do most of your shopping online. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out on the cash. There are newer apps such as Paribus, which allow you to passively receive rebates and partial refunds by scanning the email receipts of your online purchases. You may even find that you qualify for rebates that you’ve never heard of. You can read reviews of Paribus to learn more about this great app
5. Entertainment Streaming Services
Individual streaming services hands down cost less than a cable or satellite subscription, but with too many, you start to wonder if you’re actually saving any money. Luckily, there are a growing number of streaming platforms like Crackle, Tubi, and the Roku Channel that allow you to watch completely for free. If your favorite shows and movies are on these platforms, you could cut back on your paid subscriptions and bring your entertainment costs almost down to zero.
If you don’t need to cut out everything, but want to save a few bucks, look for bundling deals across different digital providers. One of the most popular bundles is Spotify and Hulu. For only $9.99 a month ($4.99 if you’re a student), you have access to almost unlimited music, podcasts, movies, and TV shows. If that’s enough entertainment for you, consider cutting back on other services.
Many cell phone providers are also jumping into the streaming craze, offering bundled services to their customers. T-Mobile is offering to free Netflix subscriptions to its customers, while AT&T offers a discounted HBO plan.
If you’re looking to save money, start with the small things. You’ll soon find that reducing those everyday expenses is what will help you save and build wealth.