Mobile apps can be a tremendous asset in keeping a financial plan on track, whether they're helping you keep travel expenses in check or make smarter money decisions. The latest round of new mobile apps and upgrades can help users avoid paying full price on just about anything.
The Blue Envelope Goes High-Tech
The ubiquitous blue Valpak envelope that has long appeared in mailboxes everywhere with coupons for local businesses has gone high-tech.
The Valpak app -- free to download and use, with no account creation required -- attempts to mimic the ease of opening the envelope and sorting through the coupons. It's the company's solution for shoppers who are on the go, says Nancy Cook, vice president of digital products for Valpak. "We've taken that the simple, streamlined experience of the blue envelope to the phone and the iPad."
"The envelope is good for someone who comes home and opens their mail, and sorts through which offers work for them and which ones don't," Cook says. "This is a different experience than someone who is driving around with their husband, looking for a place for dinner and receiving alerts about local offers."
The Valpak app works with the user's phone's location services to recognize the closest offers, and partners with Google Wallet and Apple Passbook to store and sort coupons digitally.
Upgrade to an Aisle or Window Seat (for Free)
Stuck sitting near the airplane restroom? Crowded in a middle seat between two screaming toddlers? TripIt Pro (the upscale version of the free TripIt app) recently added a Seat Tracker function that shows which seats are free on a flight. Airline willing, travelers can change seats within their fare class and fly happier without shelling out for an upgrade.
In addition to the Seat Tracker tool, TripItPro also features a refund tracker, which will monitor the price of the fare at booking and notify the user if there are any changes. Travelers will receive immediate alerts of flight changes or delays, allowing users to get a jump on re-booking flights. It also tracks and manages rewards programs. This isn't your everyday app, and its $49 annual fee (with a 30-day free trial) reflects it.
For those who travel less frequently, the standard TripIt app is available for free (or $.99 if you don't want ads on your app). Users can store and share travel itineraries, reservation confirmations, and area maps.
Anyone who's ever been stuck in the rain waiting to buy Radiohead tickets can appreciate the Gator Locator app from concert ticket website Razorgator. The free app allows concertgoers to buy and sell last-minute tickets without transaction fees.
"This is the first mobile app that gets tickets into the hands of ticket buyers without fees of any kind. Ticket buyers will save an average of 20-30 percent on every ticket," said Nima Moayedi, CEO of Razorgator, in a press release.
The Gator Locator app shows concerts in most major U.S. markets (except Washington, D.C./Baltimore) and is expanding nationally. It's currently only available for iPhone, but an Android version is expected soon.
Better Than a Loudspeaker Announcement
The online couponer RetailMeNot launched an updated app that allows users to search for coupons for stores in particular shopping malls, request coupons for specific stores, and gain recommendations for stores based on previous searches.
Users can opt in to receive alerts when they enter geo-fenced areas (i.e., mall boundaries). Customers can save coupons for a later date, browse and shop online, or search daily specials. It's free to download and use for iPhone and Android. The Android version will have location-based searches later in the year.
Photo Credit: Retail Me Not and Valpak