A $12,000 Smartphone May Already Be in Your Pocket

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Forget eating at home or forgoing your daily Starbucks run: According to a recent survey, the biggest money saver in your life is in your pocket. In April, market research firm Harris Interactive, working with ClickSoftware, a mobile management firm, concluded that smartphone owners saved an average of $12,000 per year by using the handy little machines.

The key to these savings lies in apps: By enabling users to perform tasks like checking email and browsing the web from any location, smartphones can save people a fair bit of time. In fact, according to the survey, people who use their smartphone to check email save an average of 35 minutes per day. Those who use it for web browsing saves an average of 33 minutes, those who use weather apps save 17 minutes, those who use map programs save 24 minutes, and those who use calendar apps save 23 minutes.

Now, not everyone uses their smartphone for all of those things, but all told, it still works out to an average time savings of about 88 minutes a day or over 535 hours a year, according to the survey. Based on a national average hourly wage of $22, that's the equivalent of $11,777 a year.

This value is even further increased when one considers the low entry cost. The average smartphone runs customers about $174, about 1.5 percent of the yearly savings that the phone can potentially yield. That's only part of the equation, but even factoring an average yearly cost of about $1,700 for a data, texting and voice plan, smartphones are a pretty good deal.

Of course, this assumes that all that time on the smartphone is used productively, and that users spend the spare time they gain on productive pursuits. Unfortunately, the opposite may often be true: The survey also noted that 26 percent of users played games on their phones, 39 percent spent time on social networking, and 42 percent engaged in texting. In other words, for people trying to keep their mind on work, that little gadget can be a big temptation -- and a pretty major time waster.

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Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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