Can apps help consumers save money?

Millions of Americans are always on the lookout for new ways to save money in their everyday lives, and there are plenty of companies that want to help them do that. From those that run websites designed to help people find deals online to those that develop apps designed to help people find savings in the real world, there are a litany of options available to cost-conscious consumers. However, some experts wonder whether these services actually work for people.

Many of them may help people find discounts on items they see at the grocery store or superstores like Target and Walmart, but consumers will have to determine for themselves whether the savings they find will actually be beneficial to them. The reason for this is simple: People can get sucked into spending money on things they don't really want or even need, as long as there's a discount involved. But getting 30 percent off an item they weren't going to buy in the first place still means they're spending on 70 percent of something from which they'll get little use.

What to monitor
So when looking for apps that might help them save money, people should make sure they're only using couponing apps that give them access to savings on things they buy already. That helps them save some money, but also avoids the temptation to also pick up things they wouldn't normally purchase. Furthermore, if they can do a little extra to make sure they have a budget to stick with in addition to being able to save a bit, that would likewise go a long way.

They should also try to beware of any apps that make big promises about how much money they can save, or those that try to entice them to get credit cards and other things that could, theoretically, help them save, but usually just in very specific circumstances.

What apps are smart to use?
There are, however, a number of apps that can help people save money without trying to connect them with deals that might be available to them. These, though, tend to be far less "sexy," and mostly revolve around things like budgeting and keeping track of spending. Many can even be connected to a person's bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and so on, to get a pretty good overarching view of what is owed, what's being spent, and what's coming in, on a daily basis.

These could help consumers to find plenty of potential wiggle room in their monthly budgets, especially if they find they're spending too much on certain categories - such as dining out or buying clothes - each month. If they can save even a little bit of money instead of spending it, and either put that cash toward paying down outstanding balances like those for credit cards and student loans, or actually putting it into a savings account for a rainy day, they will be significantly improving their financial standing overall.

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