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 and entertainment costs such as movie theater tickets. Here are some practical examples of ways various Smart Phone apps, smart new light bulbs, and free online services for books, shows, and movies can help you cut costs that you probably haven’t even noticed before.
2 of 11Skype.com
VoIP Services: Skype, Rebtel
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a fancy term for the type of online services that allow you to make phone calls through an internet connection, such as Skype, Rebtel and Google Voice. 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.
3 of 11itunes.apple.com
Save on Text Messages With Textfree
If you have an iPhone, you could potentially download the Textfree app for $5 and 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, and also, not all text message features (e.g. sending a photo text) are available on Textfree.
4 of 11itunes.apple.com
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.
5 of 11Lauren Nicole/Getty Images
Save on Energy Expenses With CLF Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent lights (CLFs) use about 25-33 percent less energy, and last about 10 times as long as a standard incandescent light bulb. They are priced at about $19 for a three-pack, but can save you up to $50 in energy expenses per bulb.
6 of 11Dropbox.com
Free Online File Sharing Between Your Devices With DropBox
Never buy a USB hard drive again! Dropbox is a free software that gives you 2GB of storage to share files with other Dropbox users, and sync your files online and across your own 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.
7 of 11tether.com
Low-Cost or Free Wireless Access Using Your Smartphone
Buying a personal wireless card or wireless hotspot can cost you about $150 in hardware, not to mention the $60 per month fees for your wireless service. Try Tether, a way to make your BlackBerry its own personal wireless hotspot. 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 its operating system?
8 of 11itunes.apple.com
Over 100,000 Books for Free on Your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch With Stanza
Stanza is a free application for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch which allows you to download over 100,000 books and periodicals for free. Before downloading from Amazon or iBook, which will cost you anywhere from $5-15, you can save some serious bucks by checking for a free version on Stanza.
9 of 11mixtape.me
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 them on your portable mp3 player, you can test out some tunes and later buy only the songs you really enjoy!
10 of 11hulu.com
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.
11 of 11netflix.com
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 it to arrive in the mail. Not to mention that you’ll also be saving money (and calories) on overpriced, unhealthy movie theater snacks.