3 Ways Your Phone Can Save You Time and Money at the Store – The Motley Fool

person shopping convenience store looking at phone

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Do they even make phone calls anymore?!

Key points

  • Few of us leave the house without our phones, making them an ideal place to keep your shopping list.
  • Use retailers’ mobile apps to earn rewards and use digital coupons.
  • Barcode scanners let you easily comparison shop by simply scanning an item’s barcode in different apps to check prices at competing retailers.

In some ways, managing your personal finances hasn’t changed much in decades. The basics of balancing budgets, tracking expenses, and even using coupons are all relevant today.

Though many of the concepts and methods are similar, the tools we use have evolved to keep up with our fast-paced digital lifestyles. Perhaps the most important modern tool for managing your finances?

Your phone.

From mobile banking to budgeting apps, you can manage basically every aspect of your finances with your little pocket computer. What’s more, your smartphone is also one of the best tools for saving time and money while shopping. Here are some examples.

One of the most foolproof ways to stay on budget while shopping, especially in the grocery store, is to shop according to a list. This helps you get all the things you really need, while helping avoid the temptation of impulse buying things you don’t.

Or, at least, it would be foolproof — if I could remember the darn list. Somehow, between home and the store, that little piece of paper seems to up and vanish more often than not.

The solution? I put the list on my phone. Since I’m more likely to leave the house without shoes than without my phone, this one move has saved me time and money (and no small amount of my sanity).

It doesn’t matter how you keep your list, so long as it works for you. Most smartphones offer some kind of preloaded notes app, reminders list, or to-do feature that you can use to create your shopping list.

2. Easy digital coupon clipping

Back in the olden days, when you joined a store’s frequent shopper program they gave you a physical card with a barcode (and occasionally a really hideous picture of yourself).

In a boon for wallets everywhere, those days are gone. Now, it’s all about the mobile apps.

Pretty much every major retailer (and no small number of the smaller ones) have their own apps, and the best ones are actually really useful. Among the many features, most retailer apps include a simple way to add digital coupons to your account. Even better, many retailers include app-exclusive coupons you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition to retailer apps, there are a ton of third-party savings apps you can use, too. These cash back apps have coupons and rebates you can stack with retailer coupons for extra savings.

Another great perk offered by many retailers’ mobile apps are in the in-app barcode scanners. These handy tools let you use your phone’s camera as a barcode scanner so you can price check items while you shop.

While this is a great tool for finding prices on unlabeled items in the store, it has another, and arguably better, application: comparison shopping. Since barcodes are generally universal, you can scan an item with different mobile apps to find its price across various stores.

For example, you may come across a sale on your dog’s favorite treats while browsing Target. But how do you know if it’s actually a deal? A quick barcode scan with your Petco and Walmart apps lets you compare prices in minutes without leaving the pet aisle.

It really is an all-in-one device!

Like many folks of earlier generations, I’ve done my fair share of lamenting for the days when phones were just things that made calls. The rose-colored simplicity of pre-smartphone life seems quaint (and quiet) in retrospect.

In reality, however, I am one of the many who depend on my phone for — well, just about everything. And that everything includes a whole lot of ways to save both time and money. Whether you simply want a harder-to-lose grocery list or go all-in on retail apps, your phone can be one of your best tools to save money.

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