TAMPA, Fla. — As the nation went to work Wednesday, news reports erupted about inflation hitting a four-decade high of 9.1 percent in June. The data reinforced what Americans have seen every time they go shopping for almost anything, prices are sky high.
So, how can you save some of your hard-earned money as prices show no signs of coming down? It turns out that technology could be one of your biggest allies.
Gas prices have been one of the primary drivers of inflation over the last year, but there are several ways you can find the best price when you need to fill up.
- Google Maps
Google's map program can show the price of gasoline near your location. It can also help you navigate those pesky toll roads by showing you how much you'll pay to use them. It's a free app and website from the search giant.
The most popular gas price app has a large following. It's free, and all it requires is a zip code or a phone's location services, and it will show the lowest price nearby.
- Fuel reward programs
Wawa, Shell, 7 Eleven, Speedway, and Circle K, as well as major grocery chains like Kroger, Safeway, Albertson's, Giant Eagle, and Fred Meyer, now offer fuel discounts for members along with some credit card companies.
One of the newer cash-back program is GetUpside. It is a free program that gives cash rewards from gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Shopping Discount Apps
From apps to plugins, the digital landscape is full of different ways to save money and earn rewards when you hit the checkout screen.
This site/plugin works to track prices on Amazon.com. It can also alert you when prices drop on products you may be interested in and show you some price history of lots of Amazon products.
This app (available on iOS and Android) lets users look through coupons and deals from retailers across many industries. The app will save the coupon and will also tell you when your coupons are about to expire
A web browser add-on, Honey has users discover coupon codes from tens of thousands of sites and then automatically apply them to carts at checkout. It also works on Amazon to tell you if an item is available from another seller for a lower price.
Used by millions of shoppers, it allows users to earn points by making purchases, inviting friends, and sometimes just walking into stores. Those points can then be converted into gift cards at participating stores.
This mobile coupon app allows users to use digital coupons or take pictures of printed coupons and turn them into digital coupons. There's also a repository for other coupons that have been clipped.
Manging Your Money
Sometimes it's not always about saving money at the store, but about managing your budget overall. There are many apps that can help you with this.
CAUTION: You'll be giving your account information to those entities so always double-check their information security policies.
One of the largest financial management apps, Mint allows you to bring all of your finances to one central point. From credit cards to car loans to 401k accounts and more, Mint can help you keep them all in line and help you create budgets to see where your money is going.
- You Need a Budget (YNAB)
The purpose of this app (available on nearly all platforms) is fairly evident from the title. But, it also brings together your finances to allow you the ability to manage all of your finances in one place. YNAB says it's about zero-based budgeting, or assigning every dollar you have to a specific role (debt, savings, bills, etc).
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding savings through technology. There are thousands of apps and sites to help you navigate the expensive shopping trips everyone faces. Just remember, always protect your personal information and your financial information when you use any app or website.