8 Essential Apps for Frugal College Students

By Noah Henry  •  January 21, 2014

The transition from high school to college usually brings with it a lack of financial savvy. But the best four years of your life don’t have to be ones of imprudent budgeting and lax spending. With the right apps, you can have a smartphone or tablet armed with the best tools for saving money. From discovering the nearest drink specials to texting for free, here are eight apps for college students wanting to stay within budget.

 

ATM Hunter

 

An app by MasterCard, ATM Hunter will save college students from the inevitable occasion of needing some extra pocket scratch. Using your phone’s GPS, it directs you to ATMs within your immediate area. We’ve all entered the corner shop or restaurant that only accepts cash, and this app effectively saves you from wandering aimlessly for that long-lost ATM. It will even save you from paying that extra surcharge with a filter that shows you the location of your own bank’s ATM. Those $3 fees can add up. Be prepared with ATM Hunter.

 

DrinkOwl

 

There’s always one person in the group who has exceptional knowledge on drink specials and the best liquor store prices. Don’t you wish you could be him? DrinkOwl is a drink specials and happy hour finder. Through contributions from a community of users, thousands of deals are updated in real time, allowing you to plan your weekend frugally. It also acts as a liquor store locator, filtering the best prices based on your preferred alcoholic beverage type—beer, wine, or liquor. It’s a rite of passage for college kids to learn that crazy prices are standard in most bars, but now you can decide to do something about it.

 

Venmo

 

“I’ll pay you later.” Words that you never want to hear. It’s typical college behavior—one friend doesn’t have the cash and he says he’ll pay you back. You can avoid this undesirable circumstance with a free download of Venmo, a money-sharing app akin to PayPal. You can send and receive money with friends, whether it’s rent, utilities, dinner or drinks. Splitting the bill is never a problem, and Venmo uses bank-level security and allows you to pay with your debit card or bank account card for free. If your roommate owes you $10 for that burrito, urge him to get Venmo and never experience the anxiety of counting on someone else again.

 

LifeLock Wallet

 

College is all about making stupid decisions. And losing your wallet is the big kahuna. If you’ve ever lost your wallet or had it stolen, you know it’s a hellish experience, but with one free download of LifeLock Wallet (formerly Lemon Wallet), you’ll be able to store all your important cards on your mobile device. Credit cards, loyalty cards and IDs are kept organized in folders, and all you have to do is take a picture of each and upload the digital photos. If you ever misplace your wallet or have it stolen, heaven forbid, you can simply call LifeLock and they’ll cancel valuable cards.

 

Viber

 

The average 18 to 24-year-old sends and receives an average of 3,853 texts per month. Yeah. Excessive mobile communication won’t likely end soon, so you might want to pick up an alternative to sending huge checks to your provider. Viber, a college kid’s texting fantasy, lets you make calls and text, send pictures, and even upload video messages for free. With more than 200 million worldwide subscribers working on Wi-Fi and 3G, Viper allows you to set up groups with up to 100 participants. Meaning, you can gather all your friends on one network and celebrate the joys of unlimited communication without worrying about your parents’ heads exploding. Even the student studying abroad can maintain intimate relations with friends and family at absolutely zero cost. Text away, kids!

 

Mint

 

My grandpa told me college is where you learn to think. He failed to mention it’s where you learn to think about money. It’s the time when kids become adults, and the most important thing about being an adult is knowing how to handle your money. Mint is one of the most popular and easy-to-use budgeting apps. It’s free to use, and with a simple interface you can manage your budget and cash flow in certain categories of spending such as restaurants, car costs, entertainment expenses and credit card bills. Without proper organization, college tends to be the place where savings goes to die. Most colleges don’t have courses on financial responsibility—as they should—but you can avoid carelessly liberal spending by downloading this free app.

 

Coupon App by promocodes.com

 

We’re not just telling you this to toot our horn. The Coupon App by promocodes.com is a savior to penny-pinching college kids wanting to get the best deal at thousands and thousands of stores.  You can collect coupons from Forever 21, deals from Dell, and Apple discounts with only a swipe of the finger, and send a cool coupon to a friend and keep them saved in your profile for later. If you get some discretionary cash and want to spend it wisely, our app will accompany you in your frugal journey.

 

Chegg

 

Everyone knows the costs of campus bookstore textbooks are basically criminal. It’s a market that preys on the pockets of parents and lazily non-resourceful kids. The good news is you don’t have to relinquish your soul to purchase a stack of required books. With Chegg, you can read e-textbooks on any device and research solutions to millions of questions in subjects like business, physics and calculus. The app is free, but the costs of textbook rentals and purchases are significantly less than your average campus bookstore. 

So go and download these essential apps for frugal college students and maximize your budget skills. If financial responsibility isn't being taught in college, at least you can give yourself a crash course in saving money.



Noah Henry Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!


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