8 Great Smartphone Apps to Save You Money

Nobody likes paying more than they have to. At least no one I know.

But going out of your way to find the best price can cost you more time than you have to lose. Running around town to price shop. Comparing multiple websites. Flipping through circulars and clipping, organizing and keeping track of coupons. There’s gotta be an easier way.

Fortunately, for smartphone users, there’s a cache of mobile phone apps to help you cash in on the best deals and save all over the place. Whether you’re looking to score at major retailers, land the lowest last-minute hotel rate or consistently pay less at the pump, these are among the top money-saving apps to get pumped about.

All are free and iPhone/Android compatible.

RedLaser
Let’s say you’re at a major office supply store looking for a new laptop or tablet. Wouldn’t you love to know what the “other guys” are selling it for without making an additional trip? Armed with the RedLaser Bar Code and QR scanner app, just scan a product’s barcode and you can pull up pricing on the same item at major competitors. Additional perks include coupon notifications and the ability to scan and save all of your loyalty card info in one place.

Hotel Tonight
Who says you snooze you lose? You can wait until the last minute and still land an amazing deal on an upscale hotel stay. With Hotel Tonight, you can score discounts of up to 70% on same-day stays at high-end hotels. Great rates get posted after noon each day for deals in 12 countries and over 150 prime locations.

shopkick
You don’t even have to buy anything to get something with shopkick. You see, with shopkick, you get points (or “kicks”) just for walking into a store. And you can put your kicks toward gift certificates at participating retailers, including Target, Macy’s, Old Navy and more. Those who spend, of course, get more kicks.

ShopAdvisor
If you already know what you want, ShopAdvisor can help you get it when it’s priced right. With ShopAdvisor, you scan the barcode of something you have your heart set on. It’ll end up on your “watch list” so that whenever it goes on sale (at a store in your vicinity), you’ll be the first to know.

GasBuddy
The staggeringly high prices we’re seeing at the pump have fueled just about all of us to be more frugal in one way or another. GasBuddy puts road warriors in the driver’s seat by alerting where in town you can top off the tank for the lowest price.

RepairPal
If there was only a quick fix to the grind of finding a qualified mechanic. Wait…there is. Download the RepairPal app and know what price you should pay for your repair. What’s more, the app locates qualified mechanics in your area, tracks all your repairs, and offers one-touch access to roadside assistance.

RetailMeNot
With RetailMeNot, customers get the benefit of retail coupon savings without the hassle of having to physically have them in hand (simply show your phone at checkout.) With the app, you can quickly pull up coupons or coupon codes at loads of major retailers.

Viggle
TV junkies can have their fix with the Viggle. Download the app and “check in” to register the show you’re watching (you’ll earn one point per minute). You can earn bonus points for watching featured programs, too. Points are redeemable for gift cards and other prizes.

Smartphone Apps to Simplify Your Life

While many smartphone users might be dazzled with the fact that there are more than 1 million apps on the market, you’re not necessarily one of them. After all, you’re nothing if not practical. Only if an app can truly make your information-loaded life and day-to-day doings easier are you apt to try it.

Here’s a small sampling of smartphone apps designed to do just that. All are free and iPhone and Android compatible.

Grocery iQ
You can shop smarter at the grocery store with the Grocery iQ app. Along with storing and organizing grocery lists, the app also tallies up your bill before you hit the checkout thanks to a built-in barcode scanner. Focused on saving you money, Grocery iQ is rife with coupon incentives, too.

Dropbox
You’ve got loads of important files…on everything from your work computer, to your home desktop and your personal laptop. Ever wish you could access them all in one place? Now you can. Dropbox lets you store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere via the Internet.

Mint.com
If getting a better grip on your income, spending and investments is top of mind, you might well find the Mint.com app invaluable. Giving you the big picture, this app lets you see all of your financial accounts in one place. Focused on dollars and cents, too, Mint.com’s app tracks all of your spending (categorizing it for better budgeting), provides bill-payment alerts, suggest ways to save…and more.

Smartr Contacts
You know you have their contact information. You just can’t recall where it is off the top of your head. The Smartr Contacts app provides search functionality across your many address books – including your iPhone contacts, Twitter connections, Facebook friends, LinkedIn colleagues, Gmail contacts and more.

Key Ring or CardStar
With all the store loyalty cards you’ve collected through the years, that key ring of yours is getting awfully crowded, isn’t it? Say good-bye to carrying around loyalty cards and hello to apps including Key Ring and CardStar. They allow you to scan your loyalty card information into your phone and store store barcodes and account numbers in digital format. At checkout, store clerks simply scan the loyalty barcode on your phone.

EverNote
You never know when a great idea is going to strike. Thankfully, the EverNote app lets you take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists and record voice reminders to help you stay on track and improve productivity while you’re on the go. Making your notes completely searchable, EverNote syncs across all of your computers and devices and jibes with other apps including Facebook and Twitter.

A Mobile Website: Upward Mobility for Your Business

You’ve decided it’s high time for your very own business website. Good for you. But before you commit to a plan, make sure what you put out there is up to speed with today’s customers. If you really want to be timely, having a mobile version of your website is a definite move in the right direction.

Whether on the go or sitting around killing time, your customers likely have a smartphone or tablet at arm’s length. To be more precise, 85 percent of Americans are never more than three feet from their mobile phones; that’s according to the experts at Google. Add to that, it’s estimated that over 50 percent of mobile phone users in the U.S. now have a smartphone. Of those, 80 percent say they don’t leave home without it.

Just as the popularity of smartphones and tablets is only expected to rise, so too is the way in which consumers use their mobile devices…from getting their news feeds and perusing restaurant menus, to researching products and services and making purchases.

In a recent Google-sponsored smartphone usage study, the research group Our Mobile Planet found that:

  • 96% of smartphone users have researched a product or service on their device
  • 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone
  • 90% purchase, contact the business or take another action after local research
  • 66% access the Internet every day on their smartphone
  • 57% search on their smartphones every day
  • 37% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased on a computer
  • 35% have made a purchase on their phone
  • 32% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased the product offline

Without a mobile-friendly website, you could be potentially turning off consumers and turning away business. Think about those moments when you’ve been on the go, in your car, with your smartphone in hand. It’s great that with one click you can call a company or map their location. That’s because they’ve got a mobile website that simply works. And you could, too, by choosing an EarthLink Web Hosting plan.

In fact, most EarthLink Web Hosting plans and all of our ecommerce hosting plans include a mobile website with click-to-map and click-to-call functionality. These include:

EarthLink Web Hosting plans are designed to make it easy for your business to be more upwardly mobile.

Computer Care: Tips for Better PC Performance and Longer Laptop Life

Maybe you got a shiny new laptop under the Christmas tree this year. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to get as much mileage as possible out of your current machine. Why not? Money doesn’t grow on trees. Whatever the case, by following some basic computer care/computer maintenance tips, we can all benefit from better PC performance and longer laptop life.

Drink to Being More Careful.
When it comes to your pricey computer, you can cry over spilled milk. It’s not so bad if the big spill is on your desktop keyboard (which you can replace for less than $20), but if we’re talking about your laptop keyboard, you could easily short out your motherboard with one, unfortunate move.

Keep Your Keyboard Clean.
Step 1: After you shut down your computer, turn your laptop or keyboard upside down and gently tap on the back to kick out crumbs and debris. Step 2: Keeping the keyboard upside down, use a can of compressed air (sold for a few bucks at office supply stores) to blow out anything left stuck between/under the keys. Gently tap the keyboard a few more times. Step 3: If you have a raised-key keyboard, attack those germs by swiping a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol around the rims of each key.

Keep the Screen Clean.
Spots and smudges on the computer screen are distracting, no doubt. To clean your laptop screen or computer monitor, first power off your laptop/monitor. Grab a dry, microfiber cloth (paper towels are too abrasive). Spritz some screen cleaner (sold at office supply stores) onto the cloth (not the screen) and wipe in a gentle, circular motion. Penny pinchers: You can make your own cleaning solution by pouring equal parts distilled water and white vinegar into a spray bottle.

To Dust Is a Must.
Dust build-up is problematic for laptops, given their compact design and small components. If your computer fan is running constantly, or your laptop feels hotter than it should, that might be a sign of dust build-up. What to do: First make sure your laptop is completely turned off. Turn your laptop over and remove the battery pack. Examine the bottom of the laptop for vents, grills or fans. You can use a can of compressed air to blow out dust in these areas. Better yet, say the PC repair guys, use a Shop-Vac set in reserve (with an attachment to concentrate air flow). Blow out these areas, including the battery compartment, to remove dusk particles. Even a small amount of dusk is a big deal for laptops.

Dump the Junk.
For optimal performance it’s just as important to keep the computer clean on the inside. An overload of files and outdated software can waste valuable hard drive space and slow your speed.

Windows users can get rid of old software as follows:

Click the Start button > then Control Panel > then choose Programs > followed by Programs and Features, where you’ll see a complete list of your software programs. Select what want to delete and click uninstall.

You can also shed unnecessary files on your hard disk and free up disk space by using Disk Cleanup on a regular basis. It removes temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, and clears a variety of system files you no longer need. If you’re a Windows user:

Click the Start button. In the search box, type Disk Cleanup.
In the results list, click Disk Cleanup.
In the drives list, select the hard disk drive you want to clean up, and then click OK.
In the disk cleanup dialog box, select the check boxes for the file types you want to delete, and then click OK.
In the confirmation message that appears, click delete files.

Play it Safe with Antivirus Protection.
To keep your PC in tip-top shape, having a quality antivirus software installed is absolutely essential. Among the choices that consistently rank at the top: AVG Antivirus. Blocking viruses, spyware and other malware, AVG Antivirus can be downloaded free. For more extensive protection (including firewall and encryption protection), purchasing the full version of the software affords you greater peace of mind.