ANDROIDS and iPhones have become commonplace additions to our lives and are holstered in pockets and handbags everywhere we go.
The new generation of inexpensive internet-based software tools from Apple can be tagged onto your phone or portable tablet. Some offer consumer weapons that not only entertain and navigate, but could pay for themselves along the way.
Many apps are completely free, so why not put that demanding little electronic brick to work. For an overview of hundreds of apps (worthy and otherwise) try www.apps.ie or go directly to the iTunes store at Apple.com.
Available for the iPhone, iPad and iPad touch, Fuel School works through your phone’s GPS, monitoring your position and assessing your driving behaviour, to suggest more fuel efficient ways for you to make your journeys. The software will rap you smartly on the knuckles for your total of ‘inefficient driving time’ and will set off an over-excited ‘eco-meter’ if you put the pedal to the metal. €0.87c.
While you’re out there cruising for petrol or diesel (more expensive than mid-range beer), try Pumps.ie, to lead you to the best deal per litre wherever you are in the car. Rank stations by distance or price and see trends as they emerge. Create a Pumps.ie account and you can keep a personal watchlist. www.pumps.ie. Go to Apps.ie and then onto iTunes to acquire. Free.
Skype is available not only for our home PC and laptop, but can be used on any mobile phone too. The service is free to download and will dramatically reduce your distance phone calling, transferring regularly used international numbers into local ones. You can use this number (termed Skype to Go) from any phone, not just your mobile. Skype to Skype calls are completely free. www.skype.com.
Using your phone as a scanner teamed to a shopping app you can find out not only more about the product but enjoy information on its pricing elsewhere. This app is useful if you’re buying something that’s widely available such as wide screen TV, a toy or major brand furnishing or accessory. You can scan the code of something you have already, such as personal hygiene products, and find deals online. Free. For general shopping needs try Truvo.ie. Free.
There are a number of bill-paying Apps to help you not only pay household accounts on time but to hurdle in at the last moment to pay off once off charges that you may have forgotten if you don’t use direct debit. 3G and Vodaphone both offer bill facilities. Mybills.ie managed by An Post, offers a way to pay regularly or to pay one off bills including electricity, phone, gas, waste collection and even your local authority. www.mybills.ie. Free.
Electric Ireland’s meter reading application allows you to submit your own electricity and gas readings to Electric Ireland, meaning no more estimated bills and much more control over your electricity or gas charges. Free from the Apple Store for iPhones. You might like their Appliance Calculator App too, a smart way to estimate what watts your gadgets and white goods are devouring.
A handy free tool for keeping your tax related paperwork in order year round. Record medical expenses for a year in a diary-like manner, typically as events occur, for a future claim. Records are organised into medical, dental and nursing home for each year. You must be registered for Revenue’s PAYE anytime service to submit recorded claims via the application. To register for PAYE Anytime go to www.revenue.ie.
Stick to an ingredients list for a meal, you’re less likely to wander slack jawed around the aisles, committing impulse buys. Include some culinary adventures to excite your list-making behaviour. Enter your three potential key foods into this app and it will come up with something you can make. €0.79. Also try Love Food Hate Waste. Cut down on the estimated 40% of food waste hitting the bin. Portion ingredients for meals, blend ingredients you have with the Recipe Blender of hundreds of choices, and plan meals for the week ahead. Free from the Apple Store.
One of the many chefs using the app scene, and recommended by Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Guide, Neven Maquire offers an innovative ingredients page with each of his 60 delicious recipes, allowing you to amend the number of people to be fed and altering the quantity of ingredients right there in store, phone in hand. You can even start tailoring list demands to your favourite shopping aisles. iCook. €2.99.
If you’re a foodie on a budget, check out the daily discounts instore, best places to eat, and links to news about food nationwide. This highly user friendly site includes hundreds of inexpensive delicious menus for every pocket, as well as bargains and nonsense from an upbeat, fascinating group of contributors on food. You can even contribute your own reviews.
Examines prices at Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Supervalu, Superquinn, Aldi & Lidl with weekly surveys of over 1,000 everyday goods. Using more than one outlet to source food and household products is a great way to save money and stirs competition to further drive down prices. It’s free to create an account and to keep tabs on your favourite items.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, have a superb website, dense with information from grant aided insulation improvements to the latest news in green building. Go to the ‘Your Home’ area for free publications that show you how your house works and how it can perform better in terms of energy efficiently.
We’re Irish and we love to talk. When it comes to financial matters, this busy non-profit, advertising free forum allows you to bring up everything from the best deals on home goods, ideas for budgeting, and the stress of falling back on your mortgage payment to sharing a moan about the price of petrol. It’s tightly moderated to keep things polite and to downplay any commercial bragging by suppliers.