How your Smartphone can help keep you on a budget

Saving money is one of the most common New Yearâ??s resolutions, and a great approach to achieving this goal is to monitor your finances on a regular basis. As mobile banking and digital financial tools become even more popular, itâ??s easier than ever to use your smartphone to stay focused on finances.

A 2013 survey by Quicken revealed that two out of three surveyed smartphone users say that being able to check their finances on the go gives them peace of mind; 23 percent said they wouldnâ??t make a major purchase if they couldnâ??t check finances from their phone. With one in three people losing sleep over money woes, itâ??s not surprising that many people are looking for tools and tips to better manage their money in 2014.

â??We know your phone helps simplify and organize your life, and it can do the same for your finances,â?? said Dorsey Ragland, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Missouri. â??Through a 2013 survey of our customers, weâ??ve found that 23 percent of smartphone users utilize their phones to manage finances. We expect that number to grow in 2014.â??

By using a wireless device like a smartphone or tablet, budgeting is no longer as complicated or time-consuming as manually balancing a checkbook. Smartphones like the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c can enhance your life by providing financial information at your fingertips whenever and wherever â?? helping you to budget, save, track and spend smartly each year. U.S. Cellular recommends the following strategies and tools to take advantage of modern money management.

  • Manage your budget: The free app and accompanying website keep a detailed account of your finances by connecting securely to your bank and credit card accounts and tracking the money you earn and spend. Avoid the time-consuming method of checking each account separately, and view spending patterns in an easy-to-read chart to save time and money. It will also alert you to upcoming bills, fees, low account balances and unusual activity.

  • Utilize mobile banking: Many financial institutions offer mobile banking options, and by using an app from your bank or credit union, you can check your account balances on the go, view transaction details and make transfers. Check your statement or current balance from your phone before making a purchase to ensure you have available funds, or transfer funds for urgent needs. With access to the 4G LTE network, some apps allow you to deposit a check by uploading a photo using your phoneâ??s camera, so youâ??ll have money without having to make a trip to the bank.

  • Collect coupons: SnipSnap is a nifty coupon app that will ensure that you never leave your coupons behind or let them expire. You simply take a photograph with your device and it is stored into your smartphone. Once you are ready to use the coupon, simply pull it up on your iPhone 5s or whichever smartphone youâ??re using, and have the cashier scan it.

  • Plan Fill-Ups: Gas prices are always fluctuating and can be cheaper just a mile down the road, but there are apps to help you find the cheapest gas around you. The free Gas Buddy app constantly tracks gas prices across the country, so you can find the best deal. Simply pulling up this app before running errands can enable you to conveniently fill up and still save money.

  • Track prices: Another big expense for a household is grocery shopping. The Grocery Smarts Coupon Shopper app can help people make the most of the trip to the grocery store. It tracks items and prices from the latest weekly deals at Target, Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid and Wal-Mart and cross-references all manufacturersâ?? coupons with the in-store deals to get the best possible price. The app will show you if a coupon is available online or in your newspaper circular.

â??There are many apps and tools that can help you avoid overspending and focus on smart budgeting in 2014,â?? Ragland said. â??Check out these recommended apps, and consider talking to your bank or financial advisor about other tools that may help.

U.S. Cellular also offers Device Workshops where people can learn more about utilizing all that their smartphone has to offer. Device Workshops are free and open to the public. Check with your local U.S. Cellular store for dates and times.

About U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular rewards its customers with unmatched benefits and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier offers national coverage and has a strong line-up of cutting-edge devices that are all backed by its high-speed network, which has the highest call quality of any national carrier. Currently, nearly 90 percent of customers have access to 4G LTE speeds. U.S. Cellular was named a J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Champion in 2012 for the second year in a row.