Alamy Money is always tight when you’re in school, but with the right apps, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a savings magnet. From free texting to cheap textbooks, we’ve got eight must-have apps for college kids on a budget.
ATM Hunter (free; iOS, Android, Windows phone): We all know how fast ATM fees can add up. Stop the bank madness with the ATM Hunter app (from MasterCard), which shows you where ATMs are located based on your current location. You can filter to find only your own bank’s ATM so you can avoid an extra surcharge from using a foreign ATM.
Sample savings: $3 per ATM withdrawal.
Chegg (free, though textbooks are not; iOS, Android): The Chegg app can save you money and lighten your load — literally. It allows you to rent or buy new and used textbooks, and many books are available for sale in digital form as well. You can also recoup some of your book budget by using the app to easily sell back books you no longer need.
Sample savings: $21.96 on a used copy of Campbell’s “Biology,” 9th Edition, from Chegg instead of Amazon.com (AMZN).
BillMinder ($1.99; iOS, Android): College is often the first time many of us become responsible for paying our own bills. But with a busy schedule and a host of distractions, it can be hard to stay on top of those new responsibilities, and that can quickly become an expensive problem: Not only will missing a due date trigger late fees, it can also damage your fledgling credit score, which could cost you next time you need a loan, apply for a credit card, or when a future employer or landlord does a background check. Track your bills easily with the BillMinder app — it’s not free, but if it saves you one late fee, it’s more than worth the cost.
Sample savings: $5 a month (or 1.5 percent of your balance, whichever is greater) if your Verizon Wireless (VZ) bill isn’t paid on time.
WhatsApp (free for the first year, $0.99 per year after that; iOS, Android, Windows phone, and more): Want to cut down on that smartphone bill in the first place? Get free texting from WhatsApp. Using your data plan or WiFi, with WhatsApp you can send free SMS messages to pretty much anyone else who has the app installed, even those who live overseas. Perfect for that cute exchange student you met last semester.
Sample savings: $10 per month (compared to an international texting plan from AT&T(T) Wireless).
Onavo Extend (free; iOS, Android): Speaking of data, couldn’t we all use more of it? With unlimited data plans getting more expensive — when you can get them at all — this app could be a lifesaver. Onavo Extend compresses your mobile data, and claims to boost your data allowance by as much as 500 percent — in other words, giving you more than five times as much data as you’re paying for. That sound too good to be true, but even if its compression is only a fraction as good as advertised, it’s worth it to try it. The app also provides a report function that will show you exactly how your data is being used, which can help you better manage what you’ve got.
Sample savings: $10 per month if you can get away with T-Mobile’s cheapest iPhone data plan instead of the next one up.
DrinkOwl (free; iOS, Android): Never overpay for drinks again with the DrinkOwl app, which highlights local drink specials and happy hours by city and college campus as well as by type (beer, wine, liquor). Search for upcoming deals by day to plan out your weekend.
Sample savings: $1 off draft beer at Asylum in Washington, D.C.
Venmo (free; iOS, Android): When your friend showed up to happy hour without any cash, did you agree to pick up the tab if he paid you back later? Now make sure he really does settle up with you with this free app. Venmo makes it a snap to share payments (like rent or utilities), pay someone back for last night’s dinner, or collect payments from those who owe you. Just hook up the app to your bank account or debit card (it uses bank-level security), then let your friends know who owes what.
Sample savings: Getting back the $5 your roommate borrowed last week.
Apps Gone Free (free; iOS): Got app envy? Sure, all these apps can save you money, but others, like games and other fun add-ons, can add up fast. Searching for free apps can be time-consuming, and many are duds. Find highly rated, expert-picked free apps (including ones that are temporarily free) with the Apps Gone Free app.
Sample savings: $0.99 on the next popular game.
Add it all up and these apps could easily save you more than $50 in just the first month — perhaps a lot more if it’s textbook-buying time (or going-out-drinking time). Now that’s some smart savings.
Motley Fool contributing writer Robyn Gearey owns shares of Amazon.com. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.