These days, there are small ways that free (or low-cost) technology services can save you lots of money on everyday expenses like text messaging fees and entertainment costs for things like movie theater tickets. Below are some examples of smartphone apps, smart new lightbulbs, and free online services that can help you cut costs you probably didn’t even know you had!
Save on Monthly Bills: Phone, Electricity
1. VoIP Services: Skype, Rebtel
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a fancy term for online services like Skype, Rebtel, and Google Voice that allow you to make phone calls through an Internet connection. Sometimes, you can even chat for free using these services—especially if it’s a domestic call. All three services have an application you can download on your mobile phones.
2. Save on Text Messages with Textfree
If you have an iPhone, you can download the Textfree app for $5 and potentially never pay for a text message again! While this is a great deal for avid texters, keep in mind that this app must be open at all times in order for you to receive a text message; also, not all text message features (e.g., photo texts) are available on Textfree.
3. Free Video Calls on Your Smartphone with Fring
Fring is a free app on Android and iPhone that allows you to video conference with other users from your camera phone! While your phone might not have the front-end camera that allows you to stare at the screen while looking into the camera, this app can still save you big bucks—the iPhone 4 is currently retailing at $199 with a minimum two-year contract.
4. Save on Energy Expenses with CFL Lightbulbs
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use about 25 to 33 percent less energy, and last about ten times as long as a standard incandescent lightbulb. They are priced at about $19 for a pack of three, but can save you up to $50 in energy expenses per bulb!
Save on Computer Expenses
5. Free Online File Sharing Between Your Devices with DropBox
Never buy a USB hard drive again! Dropbox is free software that gives you 2GB of storage, allowing you to share files with other Dropbox users and sync your files online and across computers. You can buy additional storage starting at $9.99 per month. The software provides a folder on your computers—if you put your files into this folder, you can access them from any of your other computers or mobile devices.
6. Low-Cost or Free Wireless Access Using Your Smartphone
Buying a personal wireless card or wireless hot spot can cost you about $150 in hardware, not to mention fees of roughly $60 per month for your wireless service. Tether is a way to make your BlackBerry its own personal wireless hot spot! Tether has a one-time cost of $49.95, but it’s definitely more economical than going the standard wireless card route. In addition, did you know that all Android phones have wireless tethering built into their operating systems?
Save on Media and Entertainment Expenses
7. Over One Hundred Thousand Books for Free on Your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with Stanza
Stanza is a free application for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows you to download over one hundred thousand books and periodicals for free! Before downloading from Amazon or iBook, apps that will cost you anywhere from $5 to $15, check for a free version on Stanza and save some serious bucks.
8. Free Custom Music Playlists Using Mixtape.me
Mixtape.me allows you to search for songs and create custom playlists (which you can share with friends) for free! The next time you’re throwing a party or want to try new music for free, check out this user-friendly site. While you don’t own copies of the actual files and can’t make CDs or put the songs on your portable mp3 player, you can test out some tunes and later buy only the songs you really enjoy!
9. Still Paying for DVR? Watch It Online Instead on Hulu
DVR can cost subscribers up to $5 or more per month, adding up to a yearly cost of $60—that’s a nice dinner for two! If you’re only using DVR to record a few episodes of your favorite shows, why not watch it on Hulu instead? Most shows on air today are available for free online!
10. Watch Movies at Home with Netflix
While some movies are meant to be seen in theaters for the utmost cinematic experience, there are some flicks you can wait to watch at home. With Netflix, you can rent movies for as low as $4.99 a month (for one movie at a time). That’s less than half of the price of an average movie ticket! Netflix also provides a streaming service that allows you to watch some films and TV shows instantly, instead of waiting for the discs to arrive in the mail. Not to mention that you’ll also be saving money (and calories) by not buying overpriced, unhealthy snacks at the movie theater.
Originally published on LearnVest