There is hardly a moment in the day when my phone isn’t within a few feet of me, and that’s hardly mind-blowing. I’m sure 90% of you are the same. Our phones have become the way we stay connected, keep our schedule, get our news, play games, track fitness milestones, pay bills and so much more. Today I want to put that little device to use for the good of your finances with a round-up of the best money apps for Canadians.
Sometimes us Canadians get the short straw when it comes to tech and online services. We’ve all found something amazing online only to be disappointed with outrageous shipping fees or tried to download a service that isn’t available in Canada. That can happen with money apps too, but all is not lost. There are plenty of finance apps that we can use, and that will help us save money and budget efficiently.
Money Saving Apps
My favourite way to put my smartphone to work is to use apps that save me money. The following apps will scour the internet to find you the best prices or earn you cash back on things you are buying anyway.
Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Nothing is easier than using Rakuten. The site will pay you to shop. You sign up for a free account and then link through to your favourite online shopping portals, and you’ll earn from one per cent all the way up to fifteen per cent back on your purchases. They are basically using affiliate marketing to pay you to be a member.
Payments earned are paid out quarterly by cheque, PayPal, or you can instead choose to redirect the money to a charity of your choice. I’ve been using Rakuten for a few years now and have earned over $367 cash back just for online shopping.
There are currently over 750 stores available through Ebates included Amazon, Sephora, Expedia, etc.
Sign-up today and you’ll get a $5 when you make your first purchase over $25.
Who isn’t looking for a way to save money on groceries? Reducing our monthly food bill is something I’m constantly working at, and I’ve been using Checkout51 to help out. It won’t be a huge moneymaker, but it’s way easier than clipping coupons.
Download the app and browse through the offers available in your region. There’s a wide variety, and they change regularly. I like that there are often offers for fresh produce and not just processed food. No judgement on junk food (salt & vinegar chips are life), but it’s nice to get a small break on good for you food.
When you’re done your shopping, you can take a picture of your receipt and upload it to take advantage of the offers. As soon as your balance hits $20, you can request to be paid out.
Another grocery saver. One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to shop the sales. Makes sense right? Stocking your freezer with items you regularly use when they are on sale can save you lots of the long-term. The problem is that it can be time-consuming to scan flyers looking for the best deal. We rarely even get flyers in the mail anymore.
Flipp is solving that problem for you by gathering all the flyers from local stores and posting them on their app. You can search for exactly what you’re looking for and find the best price in town. I’m not one to run around stopping at a bunch of different stores, but there are a few items we buy that are worth the extra trip (usually it’s meat).
Have you ever filled up with gas only to drive past a station with a lower price on your way home? I have, and it’s annoying. Gas is expensive, and it can be a significant budget line item if you drive a lot so it makes sense to save money where you can.
Gas Buddy will use your location and pull up the nearest gas stations to find the lowest price. It only takes a second and can save you a few bucks each time you need to fill up.
I’ve been an avid Shoppers Optimum point collector for as long as I can remember and I had concerns when the program was amalgamated with PC Plus. It’s still great though, and one less app I need on my phone. The benefits of the Shoppers Optimum program have carried over to the new program. You still get the bonus point days, personalized offers and mega redemption days.
My strategy is to collect points at both Shoppers and Superstore (our regular grocery store) and then redeem them on mega redemption days when points are worth more. I’ve found that I now earn even more points than before because groceries are included.
The app itself is also very user-friendly. You can pull up your offers each week and scan directly from your phone (no need to carry a card). If there is ever a problem with points not showing up you can scan your receipt and put in a claim. I’ve used that before, and they corrected the points ASAP.
There are very few people out there who don’t love to travel, and I’m sure many of us would do it more if it weren’t so darn expensive. That’s why travel hacking has become so popular. There is nothing better than free trips. Building up points (especially in Canada) can be a process though, so I’m still always looking for ways to save.
Enter Hopper. Often the most expensive part of a trip is the flight and figuring out when to book for the best deal is an art. Hopper helps by tracking ticket prices and letting you know how low rates can go and when the best time to book is. If you are planning for a specific trip, you can input your dates and destination, and it will notify you when prices drop. I’m planning to go to Denver in November for the Cents Positive Retreat (see you there?!) and so I’ve got Hopper looking for the best deal.
If you had asked me about Groupon six months ago, I would have questioned if it still existed. I remember when Groupon was released and everyone was obsessed with it. I went through a period when all my meals out, haircuts, manicures, and random local activities were partially funded by a Groupon deal. The hype faded hard, deals went unused, and soon I completely forgot Groupon was even a thing.
Well, it still is. It may not have the jaw-dropping deals that were offered initially, but it’s not a write-off. I found that the Indian restaurant across from my office (that I eat at all the time) has a Groupon and I could have been saving money this whole time. I wouldn’t depend on it, but if you can’t decide on a restaurant or local attraction, then it’s worth checking out what deals are posted for your area.
Who doesn’t want 61% off a Crazy Dash Walking Adventure? Ok, bad example. Better one? They currently have discounted tickets to see upcoming Edmonton Eskimos games.
Being able to track your spending is one of the best ways to get your finances under control. You need to know how much money is coming in and where exactly it’s going. That said, budgeting can be uber dull, and I know that turns a lot of people off. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming though; you can do most of it right from your phone.
I’ve recently started using Koho (after a recommendation from Bridget at Money After Graduation) and am really liking it. Koho is a pre-paid credit card that you load up with funds and then can use just as you would any other credit card. They mail you a swanky new card that you can swipe at stores, shop online, pay bills, etc. The bonus is that the app comes with built-in tracking features so you can see exactly where your money is going.
Have you heard? We’re rolling out some bangin’ new KOHO cards! Which one is your fave? We have some office bets going on, so we’d love to know 🤪#newcard #whodis #duotone #fintech #personalfinance #branding #newlook #colourpop pic.twitter.com/ZMq7ZOggt6
— KOHO (@GetKoho) July 5, 2018
My favourite feature is the ‘RoundUps’. For every purchase you make you can choose to have the amount rounded up to the nearest $1, $5, or $10 and the balance will be set aside to ‘savings’. You can even set specific savings goals so you can actually see how the ‘RoundUps’ are adding up and getting you closer to your goal. You’ll also earn 0.5% cash back on every purchase you make.
If you’re curious to try out Koho, you can use my referral code (F0VL5KAN) and earn a bonus of up to $50.
If you’re looking for basic budgeting help, then Mint is a good option. Full disclosure: I have tried it out but have always gone back to my old school spreadsheet. I know not everyone likes spending their Friday nights updating a spreadsheet though, so Mint is a solid alternative. You can link it up with your existing accounts, and it will track your spending. It’s especially helpful if you have numerous bank accounts and credit cards that you use because you can see everything in one place.
If budgeting is your nemesis, then Mint is an easy way to tackle it. It doesn’t take long to set up your accounts and then after that; it runs the show.
There are plenty of apps you can download that will give you the latest stock news and prices, but that’s not my style. You guys know that my investing is mostly set on auto-pilot, so the last thing I want is my phone notifying me when the market drops.
The one exception I have when it comes to investing apps is Wealthsimple. I’ve raved about them before but I really do like their services, and I like their app. It’s easy to navigate and gives you a quick overview of your investment accounts, which is all you need. It’s a lot more functional than my banking app, that’s for sure. You can do everything on the app that you can do from their desktop site; like adding or withdrawing money, adjusting your contributions, and viewing your returns.
That’s it, my top ten money apps that are available for Canadians. Do you currently use any of the ones I’ve listed? Or do you have others you would add to the list?
This post was proofread by Grammarly.