Have you experienced that moment when you realize how time consuming just maintaining your life can be? Between work and errands and your social life and the needs of your family, it can be tough to find free time — especially free time for yourself.
But here’s the good news: we’ve never had so many useful tools and apps at our disposal to make life easier. While it may seem counterintuitive, your smartphone can actually help you manage your needs and wants more efficiently if you know how to use it right.
That means hitting pause on all those hilarious cat videos and finding time-saving applications instead. You can automate tasks you have to do on a regular basis, save a trip to the bank, calculate how much you owe your roommate at the end of the month, create detailed to-do lists, and more. Use these 10 tools and apps to help you save time and money.
Banking and Personal Finance
Take care of spending and saving wherever you are — no standing on line at the ATM or calling up your credit card company required.
Apps from Your Bank: Deposit checks, transfer money between accounts, set up automatic payments, and manage your money on the go using your bank’s app. Everything you can do on the bank’s website, you can usually do on your phone.
Credit Card Apps: Similar to bank apps, major credit card apps allow you to pay bills, check your balance, and spend rewards points. It’s a great way to almost instantly make sure a charge went through.
PayPal or Venmo: Paying back a friend or buying something from an online vendor is fast and easy. Using these tools can make splitting the bill at dinner or paying someone back for your ticket to an event really simple. You don’t have to worry about remembering to swing by an ATM if you don’t usually carry cash, and there’s no confusion over how you’ll make change.
Mint: This seamlessly links to your bank, investment, retirement, and credit card accounts.You can track and categorize your spending, see your account balances, and calculate your net worth. It’s easier to stick to a budget when you can see where your money is going, and really motivating to pay off debt when you see that number getting lower.
Splitwise: Got roommates? Stop the monthly fight over who owes whom for which bill. Enter what shared expenses you paid for, and the app tells you how much money you all owe each other. It’s sister app, Plates, helps you figure out what everyone owes at restaurants, so you don’t have to subsidize a friend’s steak when all you ordered was a salad.
Travel and Transportation
Compare costs of different modes of travel, order up a cab, and when you go out of town, keep your reservations organized.
RideScout: Pick the most convenient or least expensive route around town. You can compare timing and cost of driving your own car, using a car sharing service, taking a cab, taking public transit, using bikeshare, or riding your own bike. It’ll even tell you how many calories you’ll burn if you bike!
TripIt: Forward emailed flight itineraries, and hotel and rental car confirmations, to TripIt, and the app will create detailed itineraries of your travels. Confirmation numbers and frequent flyer account numbers are easy to access.
Get Your House in Order
When it comes to taking care of your home, there’s a time to DIY, and a time to outsource. It can be tempting to save money by tackling a project yourself, but your time has real value. Calculate how much you make per hour at work. Let’s say you make $20 an hour, and it would take you three hours to clean your home. By that logic, paying a professional cleaning company $60 makes sense, because you can use those three hours on something more valuable to you (like some freelance work).
Handy and TaskRabbit: You can set up regular professional home cleaning, hire someone to help you with jobs like assembling furniture or installing lighting, or ask for help in running errands when you run out of time to do them yourself
Unfilth Your Habitat: Be warned — the actual name of this app is not something you want to Google at work (so don’t click on that link until you get home!), but if you want to tackle home cleaning without paying someone else to do it, this will motivate you. Set goals to complete projects like cleaning out your closet or deep cleaning the bathroom, and when you have some spare time, pick a goal and go to town. The app includes a timer to help you work in 20-minute bursts and then take 10-minute breaks.
The right apps will streamline your chores, travel, and money management, freeing up your time for what really matters to you. You can always work more to earn more money, but you can’t earn more time. By taking advantage of free or low-cost apps to make everyday tasks easier, or by seeking out help when you need it, you can make the most out of the time you have.