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9 apps that save you money on almost everything

If you know what apps to use, you can save a lot of money. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

You already know that a smartphone can do so much. You can use it to take calls and pictures. It’s a tool for staying in touch with old friends and making new ones. You can even record all of your thoughts in whatever format you prefer from a 140-character tweet to a 140,000-word novel. What many people overlook, though, is their phone’s potential to save them cold, hard cash. If you know which apps to download and how to use them, you can save enough to cover your monthly mobile plan — and then some. Here are some apps to help you save money.

[See: 12 Habits of Phenomenally Frugal Families.]

1. Save on parking: Enter the location where you’re going, what time you’ll be there and what time you’ll leave, and Best Parking, a free app, will map nearby garages for you and label them according to their rates, so you can compare prices and see if whether, say, parking a half a block farther away could cut your cost in half. What’s more, many garages offer special rates for Best Parking app holders, which allow you to save big bucks instantly.

[See: 12 Ways to Be a More Mindful Spender.]

2. Top off your tank: Should you get off at this exit or drive down the road? The free app GasBuddy helps you answer that question by providing you with per-gallon costs at nearby fuel stations, so you can compare before you commit. Knowledge is power, yes, but in this case, knowledge is also money.

3. Cash in on store loyalty: With Key Ring, you don’t have to weigh down your wallet or your keychain with store loyalty cards in order to take advantage of the perks. Instead, this free app allows you to keep virtual copies of your memberships, so you can redeem them whenever you need to.

4. Maximize your credit card rewards: Wallaby, a free app, helps you maximize your credit card rewards — cash back, frequent flier miles or anything else — by telling you which card to use where. It especially comes in handy if you use a card with revolving rewards at various retailers and for specific periods of time.

[See: 6 Ways to Treat Yourself on a Budget.]

5. Find cheap beer: Feeling thirsty? The Happy Hour Finder app, also free to download, allows you to search your area for bars. It doesn’t only offer you a map on how to get to each but also a list of drink specials and the hours during which they’re available. A way to find $2 pints? Yes, please.

6. Skip the gym membership: Why pay for a monthly membership when you can get free virtual training sessions from some of the best athletes in the world, including tennis ace Serena Williams, track star Allyson Felix and U.S. soccer captain Carli Lloyd? The free Nike Training Club app features hundreds of free, customizable workouts for all fitness levels, and it allows you to track and share your progress, too, if you’d like.

7. Save on flights: Hopper, the free travel app, tells you exactly when to fly in order to save money on airfare, perfect if you have a flexible schedule. It will also tell you whether the price is likely to continue falling, stay the same or rise. So, when you do book your ticket, you can do it with complete confidence. The download will give you peace of mind — and money in your pocket.

8. Sleep for cheap: If you’re big on spontaneous weekends away, the free Hotel Tonight app is a must-have. It partners with 15,000 nice hotels across the globe (no seedy joints) to offer you cut-rate prices on still-empty rooms, which you can book directly through the app.

9. Make your money grow: If investing scares you or you just can’t be bothered with meeting with an advisor or choosing funds, try this: Acorns is an app that links to your debit and credit cards, and every time you make a purchase, it offers you the opportunity to round up to the nearest dollar. For $1 per month, it’ll invest your spare change for you. You can watch your investments grow and withdraw your money at any time, so there’s no stress — just an opportunity to get rich slowly, which is sometimes the easiest way to do it.

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9 Apps That Save You Money on Almost Everything originally appeared on usnews.com