The pace of technological advancement continues to astound, with new media software and digital devices being created everyday to improve the everyday functions we perform. Typically, these devices will help save us time and make processes more efficient, but more recently they have been assisting consumers in making long-term financial savings. Though these devices, software packages and applications may cost a considerable sum of money in the first place, they often more than repay their value over time and continued use. (For additional ways to save money, read Top 6 Unusual Money-Saving Tips.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
iPhone and Smartphone Applications
While even the most basic mobile phone model boasts an Internet browser, they are often difficult to navigate due to small screens and ridiculously slow connection speeds. Apple's iPhone changed all this of course, by introducing a growing range of free or affordable applications (apps) which can be downloaded instantly from iTunes. This library of tools has continued to grow since 2007, and has helped to turn the mobile phone into a portable personal computer, which allows users to perform just about any task or function imaginable while on the move.
Now this may save time, but where do the financial savings come into play? Well, apps have been developed which help you to find and locate the very best in consumer and retail details deals. The recently released QuickerFeet is one of the most effective. Compatible with the iPhone, it announces breaking deals and retail promotions in real time, and even provides GPS style navigation and directions to get to your local store. You can capitalize on deals as they happen and make significant financial savings.
This may seem like an old fashioned money saving technique, but the online revolution has completely changed the way in which coupons can be sourced and claimed. Not only that, but it has created scores of specialist websites where coupons can be found, and has led to them enjoying something of a resurgence with consumers. Some can provide savings on retail or luxury purchases, but the majority focus on everyday expenditures such as food and drinks, so you can save your hard earned dollars on even the most basic of purchases. (For more on coupons, check out Couponing 101: Dos and Don'ts.)
Online coupons can sometimes be printed out and redeemed in store, but promotional codes are also created and can be used when buying goods online. Do not stand and wait for these coupons to appear as you are browsing. The Internet has made it possible for consumers to go and claim everything that they need. Register with your favorite merchants and retailers and subscribe to their email listings, This way you will receive newsletters, promotional deals and coupons.
Energy and Household Bills
U.S. consumers spend an estimated $241 billion each year on household expenditures, with the average American home investing 11% of its energy budget on lighting. This is a significant amount, and it is estimated that by switching from incandescent light bulbs to the contemporary compact fluorescent lights you may even be able to save money and improve energy efficiency by up to 75%. Innovation is key to saving both energy and your hard earned dollars, whether it is through advanced engineering or software which helps you to control your utility usage.
Smart Grid technology uses computer-based software and remote control to give consumers improved visibility of the electricity usage. You use less energy and save a lot. Used by big businesses and available to residential homes, the technology allows consumers to pinpoint where they can reduce their energy usage, and also identify where energy is being consumed when it shouldn't be. This saving will be more substantial than you may think, especially when assessed over a period of 12 to 18 months.
The Bottom Line
Significant financial savings can all be made by using these examples of easily accessible technology, and the only requirement is that you invest some time and a little money in implementing your ideas. Remember, the best savings are not calculated over a day, a week or even a month. Rather, they are based on maintaining an improved bank balance and cash flow over a year or more. Do not be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants and reap rewards from other innovations. Let technology help you through difficult financial times. (To further help save you money, see Money-Saving Smartphone Apps.)