Frugal iPhone Apps Part 1 – Useful Apps

I mentioned a while ago that I have an iPhone, which may at first seem a bit strange for a frugal blogger. First of all, let me say I don’t see my iPhone as a necessity, I see it as a luxury item, and have chosen to spend money on it. I’m not suggesting that you should go out and buy one to save money. However if you already have one, there are quite a few ways in which an iPhone (or other smartphone) can help you live a frugal life. 

Tracking your expenses. I use an app called iXpenseIt to track every cent that I spend. It’s easy to do, because I always have my phone with me, so after spending the money I enter it into the app, along with the category. Then I can use this data to make reports or summaries and compare my spending over years or moths. I use this to identify where I need to save more money, and it also allows me to put a dollar value on how much I have saved (for example when I saved over $1000 on eating out). While iXpenseIt is not free (it costs $5.49), there is a free version called iXpenseIt Lite, which allows you to have 100 expense records, so that you can try out the app for a few weeks. I did this and was so impressed that I bought the full app (one of the very few I have purchased).

Banking. I have my bank’s app and mostly use it to check my balance or to check if payments from Mr Omnivore have come through (the rent is direct-debited out of my account, so he pays me every two weeks). However, this app was was most useful when my wallet was stolen and I was able to see that the thieves had used the card, and call the bank to cancel my cards before we even got home.

Grocery shopping. I have the Woolworths (supermarket) app, which is linked to my rewards card, and every week it shows me things that are on special that it thinks I am interested in buying. This is based on my buying history and is slightly Big-Brotherish, but helpful. I use it to plan my meals for the week around what is on special.

Skype. I never go over the cap on my phone, so have no reason to use Skype for calls within Australia, but I found it particularly useful when Mr Omnivore was in hospital and I was talking to my family overseas. Using the Skype app on my phone meant I could talk to them for free using the wireless internet at home. The Skype app is also good for video chat between an iPhone and other brand of smartphone since facetime only works between two iPhones.

Fitness. I use the Nike Training Club app to workout in my living room instead of going to the gym. While I’m not the biggest fan of Nike as a company, this app is free and is very useful. It contains a whole heap of workouts that you can do at home with little or no extra equipment. Most workouts are 30 minutes, and they come in beginner, intermediate or advanced levels (although I have only ever done the easy ones and they are hard enough!). There are videos showing you how to do each exercise and you can also set your own music to work out to.

As well as the Nike app, I use Youtube to find yoga classes that I can also do in my living room. If you don’t have a smartphone, you could use your laptop for these. My favourite instructor at the moment is Tara Stiles, but sometimes I just search youtube for the kind of class I want and there are always heaps.

Camera. While I do own a point and shoot camera, it gets very little use now that I have my iPhone 4S, which has a built-in 8 megapixel camera. All of the photos on my blog were taken with my iPhone camera, and then sharpened in GIMP (a free program like photoshop) before they go on the blog. I’m dreaming of getting a digital SLR camera one day, but for the moment my iPhone camera is sufficient (and cheap).

Weather. The iPhone comes with its own weather app, but a much better one that is based on the Bureau of Meteorology is Pocket Weather Australia. Obviously this is only useful if you live in Australia, but it has more weather than you could ever need, including radar images of rainfall, hourly temperature data and tide information. The app costs $1.99, and I have found it very useful while doing fieldwork. They did used to have a more basic free version, but they don’t seem to any more.

Torch (Flashlight). The torch app on my phone is probably one of the most useful. I’ve used it during blackouts, when I drop something in the dark, or to find my real torch while camping. Even my dad, who has no other apps or any music on his iPhone, has a torch app that he uses to read menus in restaurants.

Alarm clock. I use the alarm clock function on my iPhone, which means I don’t need a separate alarm clock and save on clutter.

Maps. I have no sense of direction, so use the Google maps app to make sure I don’t get lost. It does need the internet when you are out and about and don’t have access to wifi, but it is great in showing you where to go and how long it will take you to get there (much better than iPhone’s own Apple maps).

Blogging. WordPress has an iPhone app, where you can write posts, respond to comments and monitor the stats of your blog. I mostly use the app to check how many views I’ve had in a day, but occasionally do write posts on the go, or at least jot down some inspiration. I haven’t figured out how to add links or photos in, so I usually write the text on the phone, then add them on my laptop.

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, in which I’ll talk about my favourite entertaining apps for iPhone (we all need a little entertainment in our lives).

Do you have an iPhone or smartphone? What are your most useful apps?

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  1. I don’t have an iPhone or smart phone, but I feel like I’m being left behind because there are so many useful things you can do with it. Also, there are a lot of coupons and information that stores provide that are only available on your phone (A pet peeve of mine.)

    Do you worry about having your banking info on your phone? Since you carry it everywhere, it is also a candidate to get lost.

    • I probably should have explained it better – you still need to log in to use your banking info through the app just like on the computer, so even if my phone was stolen or lost, the person would need my login code and password to access my accounts.

      We don’t really have coupons here, so we don’t get that kind of benefit, but I know my mum complains that you need to use facebook to enter a lot of competitions, since she doesn’t have one.

  2. I don’t think having an iphone is necessarily a non-frugal thing. Being frugal simply means to be thoughtful and responsible with your time and resources. Some might say having a large house or traveling is non-frugal of me. We all pick and choose how we want our resources to be allocated.

    I don’t have a cell phone at all. At the moment only my husband and son have phones, both pre-paids. But I’ll insist my daughters have phones by the time university begins for them this next fall.

    Like live and learn, it bothers me that I don’t have the ability to use the store bonus coupons on a smart phone. A camera would be nice, instead of having to remember to bring my camera with me. But so far, me having a phone just has not been a priority.

    • I’m sure your daughters will find having a phone useful when they’re at uni. I also waited until I was at uni to get my first mobile phone, even though a lot of my friends had them in high school, even ten years ago. Then I bought the cheapest pre-paid one available and used it a fair bit when trying to meet up with people on campus, because the campus was so big. I also worked at night, so it was useful to have for a safety point of view.

      I definitely love having a camera on me at all times, and I’m sure even after I get a shiny SLR camera I will still use the iPhone for day-to-day use.

  3. says:

    I did not know about the WP blogging app! I’m checking into that. Thank you. And I agree with the others – living frugally allows us to pick and choose things we don’t wish to be so frugal on. I think it’s great that we have the option to non-frugal when we want to be! 🙂

    • I’m so glad I could tell you about it. I use it probably every day to check how many people have looked at my blog and also sometimes to reply to comments – it’s more set up for that than for writing huge long blog posts.

  4. My favourite frugal apps are: Tax and Tip – which calculates discounts as well (for example: jeans original $79 x 60% off plus 15% tax); Menu Planner, which stores recipes, pantry inventory and grocery lists; Style Book, which stores lists and pix of your clothes so you always know what you have when you go shopping; Overdrive, which lets me borrow free e-books from the public library; and two awesome music apps: Songza and Slacker!

    • I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where we don’t have to calculate sales tax – I imagine it would be a huge headache, although you probably get used to it! Those sound like some great apps – I’ll have to check out Overdrive and see if my library supports it. Unfortunately (like most music apps) neither Songza or Slacker are available in Australia, which is annoying. We have Spotify but I think to play it on your phone you have to subscribe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Love Xpenselt!! Thanks for telling us! I’ve been using it since I read your post. You rock!

  6. I am obsessed with it! I’m not much of a “budgeter” ( if that’s even a word) but I’ve been entering every penny I spend into it and then under “notes” adding exactly what I bought or taking a picture of my receipt. Love! Love! Love!
    Also, some great tips today from your readers about your insurance. You sound very organized and self sufficient. I’m sure you will get along just fine without Mr. Omnivore!

    • I’ve never used the photo function, but glad it’s working out so well for you 🙂 I keep all of my receipts and then sit down and enter them all, and it makes me feel so organised, it’s great!


  1. […] Yesterday I posted a list of useful iPhone apps that make my life easier. Today I’m going to share with you some of the apps that make my life a little bit more fun. […]

  2. […] don’t have a strict monthly budget; instead I track everything I spend and then review it to see where I can spend less. I also love making spreadsheets and graphs […]

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