Getty Images No matter how budget-savvy you are, there’s no avoiding the fact that having children is expensive. But with the help of your smartphone, you can cut your kid-related costs down considerably. Here are six apps that will help.
Grocery iQ (free; iOS, Android): After housing and transportation, food is often the biggest chunk of a family’s budget. Keep your grocery bill in check with this free app. Grocery iQ works with many major grocery chains, allowing you to organize your list around your favorite store’s specific layout.
Once you input your list, the app will calculate your total, so you can adjust it before you hit the checkout counter. Best of all, the app includes coupons (which can be linked with the store’s loyalty card) to help you cut down your bill even more.
Sample savings: 55 cents off Skippy peanut butter at my local Safeway (SWY).
Out To Eat With Kids (free; iOS, Android): Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Search this new app, which uses your location to find kid-friendly restaurant deals like “kids eat free” nights and seasonal promotions. It’s also searchable by the day of the week.
Most of the offers are for popular chain restaurants, but you can request that they add your family’s favorite dinner spot.
Sample savings: $4.79 off on a kid’s meal during Moe’s Southwest Grill’s Tuesday night “Kids Eat Free” promotion.
Chore Bank ($1.99; iOS): Why hire someone to rake the leaves or clean the house when you have free labor available right at home? Inspire your kids to pick up extra chores with Data Jedi’s Chore Bank app, which allows parents to set a price for various tasks, then add that amount to the child’s virtual account.
The app can also track allowance and other money — say, earnings from babysitting jobs or monetary gifts from relatives — and deposits and withdrawals so your offspring can see where their money goes. You can even set an interest rate on savings to help kids learn the power of savings.
Sample savings: $20-plus per week if you get your teen to mow the lawn instead of hiring a service. No more arguments about allowance? Priceless.
Gas Buddy (free; iOS, Android, Windows phone, Blackberry): If, like many parents, your car is essentially a taxi service for your offspring, you’re throwing money down the drain if you’re not using this popular app. Gas Buddy easily finds the cheapest gas based on your location, so you’ll never pay more at the pump than you have to.
The prices are reported and confirmed by local drivers — Gas Buddy reports it has more than 32 million users — if you participate, you can earn points toward free gas.
Sample savings: 54 cents a gallon on regular gas (the difference between the highest and lowest prices in my zip code).
The Find (free; iOS, Android): Chances are, this time of year, your shopping list gets even longer than usual. Comparing prices from store to store, and asking for price matches, can save you a lot when holiday shopping. But who has time? This free app does it all for you: Just scan the barcode and watch as both online and local store prices pop up. Best Buy (BBY) and Target (TGT) are even working with the app’s publisher to integrate their price-match guarantees with the iOS version.
The app also includes coupons, deals (such as free shipping offers), and allows you to set price alerts when your wishlist items go on sale.
Sample savings: $15 on the Lego City Town Square set on my son’s Christmas list ($135 at Toys R Us, but only $120 at Lego.com).
Best Baby Monitor ($3.99; iOS): A good-quality video monitor can do a lot to ease new parents’ anxiety over their baby’s sleep, but peace of mind doesn’t come cheap. Enter Best Baby Monitor, truly a godsend app for new parents, and a real bargain if you already own a few iDevices. (It works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You’ll need two devices to use this — one to serve as the “parent” unit and the other to monitor the baby.)
Parents can stream audio and video of their child (complete with night vision), play lullabies to soothe reluctant sleepers, talk to their babies, and get an alert when the little one wakes.
Sample savings: $90 off a comparable video monitor system at Amazon.com (AMZN).
Add it up and you could save more than $130 — enough for a dinner out and a full tank of gas — all thanks to a few apps.
Motley Fool contributing writer Robyn Gearey owns shares of Amazon.com. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.