"Finding small ways to save money is sometimes all it takes to get that budget balanced," says financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. And the right app can help you shop smarter, find the nearest location of whatever it is you're looking for or even manage your home energy consumption. Here are six apps that you shouldn’t leave home without.
1. Drink wine like a pro with Nat Decants
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, mobile web
Instead of driving around looking for that stellar bottle of Italian merlot you tasted last week, check in with wine goddess Natalie Maclean. Her app features a GPS tool to lead you to your favourite tipple -- wherever you are -- with over 150,000 UPC codes, including those from all the major liquor stores across the country. And of course, she includes tasting notes and food matches.
2. Save on food shopping with Grocery Gadget
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia
Making and sticking to a list is just one way to save on groceries. Clipping coupons, keeping an eye on sales and buying in bulk are others. This app lets you create lists and more, including charting your grocery spending habits, sharing lists and adding recipes. It even maps and remembers the layout of the store.
3. Earn eating-out points with Open Table
Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, webOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, mobile web
Not only will this app save you time and aggravation, but members can earn points toward "dining cheques" for any OpenTable registered restaurant. Search and make reservations at over 11,000 restaurants in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the U.K., from anywhere: the back of a taxi, as you’re leaving the office, in the doctor’s waiting room -- and refine results by parameters including price.
4. Cut your gas bill with GasBuddy
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, mobile web
You know you live in interesting times when gas prices fluctuate as much as the weather. When gas is this costly, it’s truly valuable to know where to find the station with the lowest price. GasBuddy is run by its community of users. It’s free to download, indicates the stations nearest to you and lists their current prices. And because it’s community run, it’s interactive -- users are encouraged to report gas prices and each time they participate, users earn points toward prize giveaways.
5. Save on travel with the Flight Network
Available for: iPhone, BlackBerry
Always on the go? The Flight Network has apps for finding and booking the best deals on flights. Use the app to search for flights offered by top international and local airlines, book and pay -- and take advantage of their price drop protection, where you earn credits if the price of your trip lowers after you book.
6. Manage your money with Mint
Available for: iPhone, Android
Now available to Canadians watching their wallets, Mint helps you track spending, alerts you to when you’ve been charged a fee or spent too much and suggests ways for you to save money on everything from banking fees to life insurance.
Knowledge is power -- the power to save -- and never in the history of the world have so many had such easy access to such vast amounts of knowledge. So use technology to your advantage and start saving.