Eight apps that'll put money - not burn a hole - in your pocket
Whether you're using them to identify the name of the song on a radio or record how long you've been jogging for, apps have changed the way we live our lives.
If you're one of the 2.7 million Irish people with a smartphone or tablet, you've probably already downloaded a raft of quirky apps. But how many of them save you money? Here are eight apps worth checking out and which could put some cash back in your pocket.
Health Expenses Tracker
Keeping track of hospital and GP bills can be hard -- particularly if you've got a hectic lifestyle or children who are constantly sick. However, as you can claim back a fifth of the cost of certain health expenses in tax relief, it is well worth keeping a record of the medical bills you clock up during the year.
The Revenue Commissioners has a free health expenses app -- PAYE Health Expenses Tracker -- which allows you to do just that. It also allows you to claim a tax refund from Revenue for the expenses you have built up.
Bills are broken down into medical, dental and nursing home expenses -- and the app will also record any refunds on these bills which you get from your private health insurance. Only PAYE taxpayers who register for Revenue's PAYE Anytime service can use the app.
If you are a disaster when it comes to managing your finances, this app helps you keep track of your money, plan your bills and check how your budget is doing.
As it also alerts you when you're short of money, it should save you money in the long run as it should stop you from spending money you don't have -- and ensure you have more control of your finances.
If you have a long commute to work or live in a rural area where the public transport links are woeful, this app could save you hundreds or thousands of euro in petrol or diesel a year. It allows you to search for the cheapest petrol or diesel near you -- by pinpointing your location on a map and then showing where the cheapest pumps are. As it relies on the public to update the prices, it isn't always up to date -- but the app does tell you when the price was last updated.
Driving around Dublin city centre can be a nightmare at the best of times -- never mind trying to find a cheap parking spot. The Parkya app, which only works in Dublin city for the moment, allows you to find the cheapest and closest parking around you.
It also allows you to pay your parking fee from your smartphone and to keep track of the money you've spent on parking -- useful if you're a business which wants to keep track of your expenses. The app should soon cover Dublin county and other areas around the country.
"We are currently in the process of adding parking data for the whole of Dublin county as well as a number of other areas throughout the country," said Paul Flood, chief technology officer with Parkya. "We hope to have this information in the app within the next month or so."
If you're out and about town, and want to find a cheap place to eat a meal or get your hair cut, this app will come in handy. It allows you to use a map to find the nearest restaurants or outlets to you where you can get a discount or special offer. Along with restaurants, bars and hairdressers, Vouchercloud lets you know the offers you can snap up when shopping for clothes, getting your car serviced or booking a hotel room or ferry trip. To take up an offer, all you need to do is show the voucher on the screen of your phone when visiting the restaurant, store or outlet.
Another good app which allows you to find great deals when on the move is GrabOne.
If you're a busy social bee who is constantly hopping into a taxi to get to the next party or get-together, you can save a small fortune in call-out charges by downloading this app. Hailo allows you to find the nearest taxi to you, hail the taxi through your smartphone, and then pay for the cab with a credit or debit card -- or cash. You only pay for the meter -- so you won't be hit with call-out charges. As call-out charges could set you back a couple of euro, the Hailo app could save you €12 over a weekend or more than €600 a year -- assuming you head out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Most mobile phone users can send hundreds of free webtexts every month -- but as you usually need to be on a computer to use them, these free webtext allowances are often never used up. This app allows you to send free webtexts from your mobile phone -- without having to go into your mobile phone company's website to use them. As you're more likely to use up your free webtext allowance this way, Cabbage should help you cut down on the number of text messages you pay for -- and slash your phone bill as a result.
If you regularly send picture messages of your cute kids to a loved one living abroad, or you're a chatterbox on your mobile, you probably get palpitations every time you see your phone bill coming through the door. This app allows you to send free or cheap texts and picture messages -- and to make free or cheap calls as long as you have wi-fi or 3G.