There are so many tools, products, and apps out there that it’s hard to know which ones to use. There’s so much choice that it’s easy to pass by some great money saving apps and tools without a second look.
It’s even harder to find stuff that works well for Canadians – nearly everything is targeted at Americans because of their larger population.
Even though I’m a tech-savvy guy, I still don’t use as many money tools as I probably should to truly maximize my money.
Some of it is due to privacy concerns – I don’t want to link up directly to my bank, credit card, or investing accounts. But, most of it is that initial barrier to entry of learning something new when what I already do works well enough.
It really helps when someone vets and recommends useful tools first before giving them a try yourself, don’t you think?
So here is a collection of apps, financial tools, and products I either use myself or think are worth using based on the reviews and features they offer.
You can find even more money saving deals and tools that I use everyday on our deals and tools page.
Best Money Saving & Personal Finance Apps
1) Apple Pay or Android Pay
If you want to leave your wallet at home, then there is no better way than linking up your credit card to your phone so you can pay with a tap at the checkout.
I don’t personally use these apps because I don’t want to give a 3rd party access to my credit card information. Chances are good that Google and Apple secure the information as well as the credit card company does, so I’m just being extra cautious here.
If you have a low limit credit card and love convenience, then these two apps could be worth a shot. Some Canadian banks offer their own app to let you pay with your phone, which might be preferable for those with security concerns.
2) Award Wallet
Maximizing rewards is one of my favourite hobbies. But, when you have dozens or rewards accounts like I do, it’s very hard to keep tabs on all of them.
Award Wallet solves that problem by giving you access to all your points balances, card numbers, expiry dates, and status in one place. It even works for tracking cash back site balances and well serves the Canadian market.
There are plenty of budgeting apps out there, which I’ll get to, but sometimes you just want to track your bills and make sure they’re paid on time.
I typically just log in to all my accounts twice a month and use autopay so I don’t miss any due dates. But if you’d rather pay individually, you can use the Bills Reminder app to schedule all your bills by their due dates and remind you when you need to pay one.
Sure, you could use a standard calendar app to do the same thing, but why clutter up your calendar when you can do it quicker and easier with an app like this?
4) Budgeting & Spending Tracking Apps
There’s almost an endless supply of budgeting and money tracking apps out there, but there are a few that are more popular than the rest:
- Mint - is a fully automated budgeting solution that hooks up to all your financial accounts and automatically categorizes all your spending for easy tracking. The problem is you need to give it read-only access to all your other accounts and I’ve heard the manual tracking options they have aren’t the best.
- You Need A Budget - YNAB used to be a pay once, use forever product but they’ve switched to a monthly subscription fee. It also used to be mostly manual with no bank syncing, but now they offer that too. If you’d rather take a more manual approach though to help keep your spending under control, that’s still well supported.
- Spending Tracker - easily track, categorize, and monitor your spending and income manually with every transaction so you’re always on top of your money. Great to combine with credit cards so you get the rewards and stay on top of your spending at the same time.
- Wallet - a goal focused budgeting app that lets you set your goals and then allocate your income and track your spending so you get there faster.
5) Grocery Coupon Apps
Coupon apps tend to be focused around groceries because that’s likely what you’ll be shopping for when you have your phone with you.
There are several apps out there that let you take a picture of your receipt after you’re done shopping and will give you some cash back if you’ve purchased one of the featured items listed in the app.
You can completely stack this with other sales and physical coupons, so it’s a great way to push your grocery savings even higher. Here’s the top 3 for Canada:
Knowing the current exchange rate to and from any currency is essential If you’re a world traveller, business owner, or investor who does transactions in multiple currencies regularly.
Not only does this allow you to better plan your trips and purchases, but it also lets you quickly figure out how close to the real exchange rate banks and other currency conversion options are offering you.
Pretty much every money related calculator you could ever want all in one place. There’s 85 different calculators to choose from available in the following categories:
- Daily life
- Finance and investment
- Loan and mortgage
The biggest challenge with this app is figuring out which calculators actually apply to you. They put 18 of the most popular calculators right on the home screen when you open the app which makes it a little easier to navigate.
8) Sale Flyer Apps
Flipp is the best app I’ve found for quickly comparing sale prices in your region where Canada is well supported. It’s a great way to find a deal and make a shopping list of sale items quickly. It’s also a great way to make a list of items to price match if you don’t want to run around to all the different stores.
Here are a few more flyer apps you can try:
9) Gas Buddy
Most of the time it seems gas prices are pretty fixed between stations, especially in provinces that have caps on gas prices. Less fixed are the price of premium fuel if you have a car that needs it or are trying to avoid ethanol in your gasoline.
Related: 11 Creative Ways To Save On Gas
Gas buddy is a crowd sourced list of gas prices so you can check whenever you’re driving and see if it makes sense to fill up while you’re there.
Daily deal sites were a mad gold rush when they first launched but today they aren’t quite what they used to be. Groupon has outlasted all the other daily deal sites and still offers good local and deals from time to time.
Stay away from the merchandise offers though because those are mostly just cheap junk from China that you could find for less on Ebay or other direct from China stores. Be sure not to hang onto your Groupons for too long though. New businesses that use Groupon often fold and your Groupons can also expire.
11) Hotel Tonight
Most travel comparison sites won’t actually save you a lot of money because they mostly use the same booking engine with the same base prices on the backend.
Hotel Tonight is different because it negotiates deals directly with hotel chains for last minute unsold rooms. Be careful in smaller markets and at some hotels though. Prices can be the same or even higher if Hotel Tonight wasn’t able to secure a special deal or if that deal got pushed through to all the other booking sites.
12) Insurance Apps
Many health insurance companies offer an app that can help you check your claims history, what coverage you have, and how much coverage is remaining this year.
Some apps even let you take pictures of your receipts and claims forms so you can upload them right through the app. My experience with the Medavie Blue Cross app was that it was a bit buggy so I went back to the Quick Pay office for that. But, if your insurer doesn’t have a quick pay office, then it sure beats mailing in all your claims.
There’s a mortgage calculator in the Financial Calculators App mentioned above, but Karl’s calculator is a cut above giving incredibly precise charts, tables, and breakdowns of exactly how your mortgage payments will work.
It’s easy to compare a few different scenarios, hypothesize an interest rate increase, or compare different amortizations and payment plans. If you want to save money on your mortgage, this app will help.
Do you share expenses with other family members, friends, or roommates? If so then Splitwise helps you keep track of who owes what and when. It gives regular reminders when a payment is due and keeps everyone up to date. No more awkward conversions and wondering if people know they are late paying.
If you tend to go out with friends and split the cheque, Splitwise has another app called Plates that makes that easier too.
I used to plan my trips and vacations in incredible detail before I left. I knew exactly what I’d be doing at every time of every day.
Sure, this was an effective way of planning that made sure we got to see the best sites and squeeze as much as possible into our trips … but it was also stressful, a lot of effort, and resulted in a lot of extra stuff to keep track of while traveling.
A big part of that was using the TripAdvisor website. These days I plan my outings in minutes while I’m already at my destination using the TripAdvisor app. It helps me find the best restaurants, great hotels, and fun things to do while on the go in minutes. No advance planning required.
Products To Help Manage Your Money
16) Automated Bill Payments
They’ve been around forever, but some people still choose to pay their bills manually. The only bills I still pay manually are my credit card bills. That way I’m forced to review my transactions twice a month, double check everything, and make sure no fraudulent transactions were made.
Give your service providers a call and get them to charge your credit card automatically so you reap the rewards every month without lifting a finger. You can also schedule payments with your bank account using online banking or arrange for a direct debit from your account. I prefer to keep things on credit though so I can dispute the charge if necessary.
17) Email Money Transfers
Interac email transfers used to be pricey at $1.50 each, but recently most Canadian banks have opted to drop the charge. That’s great news because they are one of the most convenient ways to send money fast. If you’re still using cheques, especially when receiving payments, try to convince people to email you the money instead.
Here are the cheapest options for doing EMTs.:
- BMO - unlimited free Interac e-Transfers with ALL paid banking plans.
- RBC - unlimited free Interac e-Transfers with ALL paid banking plans.
- EQBank - 5 free Interac e-Transfers per month + no monthly fees and great interest rates.
- TD - unlimited free Interac e-Transfers with most paid banking plans.
- CIBC - unlimited free Interac e-Transfers with most paid banking plans.
- Scotiabank - 2 free Interac e-Transfers with ALL paid banking plans.
- Tangerine - $1 Interac e-Transfers + no monthly fees.
18) Mobile Banking & Cheque Deposit
Mobile banking is a super convenient way to keep tabs on your accounts on the go but the killer feature for me is mobile cheque deposit.
One of the few reasons I ever visited an ATM or step foot into a bank is to deposit cheques. Ever since mobile cheque deposit came out, the time savings have been enormous. If you haven’t given it a try yet, it’s worth it.
Most people who are going to try PayPal probably already have, but it’s a great online payment service for easily transferring funds to anyone else with a PayPal account worldwide.
A lot of its usefulness is now gone with the free Interac e-Transfers that are now available at many Canadian banks, but it’s still a great way to be able to quickly accept money online including credit card payments. If you run any sort of online business or side hustle, you should try it out.
If you run a business, then Quickbooks Online is some of the best money you can spend to make your life easier. It’s very reasonably priced between $13 and $40 per month depending on the features you need.
It makes bookkeeping, income tax preparation, payroll management, invoicing, sales tax management, financial reporting, and many more things a complete breeze. Very highly recommended.
Money Saving Tools and Websites
If you’re considering a robo advisor to help you reduce your investing fees while still keeping the whole investing process dead simple, then AutoInvest is a great tool for comparing all of them in a flash.
Simply enter a few numbers into their calculator about how much money you have to invest and the size of your annual contributions in addition to your province of residence and you will see a comparison of which robo advisor will save you the most in fees.
22) Cash Back
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me say it before and you’ll hear me say it again, cash back websites are a great way to earn extra cash back when shopping online.
Simply create an account, sign in, and click through to your favourite online store through the cash back website and you’ll earn a big cut of the advertising commission that would normally be paid to whoever referred you to that store.
Read my full cash back site comparison for more info.
23) Discount Coupons
Almost every online store has a box where you can put in a coupon code, but how do you get your hands on one? You could sign up for their email lists, check their Facebook page, or wait for one to land in your lap.
A better option is to check a couple of the top coupon websites that list all the best coupons in one spot. They also try to keep on top of which coupons are working or not. People like us can report when they work and when they don’t so everyone wastes less time.
Nearly everyone has a credit card … and if you’re going to use a credit card you should be using the absolute best credit card for you. Doing anything else means you are flushing free money down the toilet, paying higher fees, or paying more interest than you need to.
That’s why we created creditcardGenius, a simple and powerful way to choose the right credit card for you.
25) Flight Comparison
Finding a cheap flight can be a challenge because most sites rely on the same underlying booking system with the same exact prices.
However, sometimes a special sale will happen or a particular site will lower prices by sharing some of their usual commission with you.
26) Google Finance & Yahoo Finance
When it comes to getting financial news, creating test or real portfolios, real time stock quotes, and looking at fancy graphs of stocks, mutual funds, and indices - these two sites are hard to beat.
Google has stubbornly refused to significantly improve Google Finance in nearly a decade, but I still use it to get my financial news and track my favourite ETFs and companies. Yahoo Finance has gone through a bigger evolution and is probably the superiour site of the two if you are just getting started or want to try something new.
When it comes to getting information about mutual funds, ETFs, fund performance, and seeing ratings about which funds are a cut above the rest - Morningstar is the place to go.
Although mutual funds can be expensive, they are super easy to get into and have the potential to beat the market and benchmark if you find a really well managed fund. That’s about as hard as picking individual stocks, but it can happen.
28) Price Comparison
Manual price comparison using store websites, flyer apps, or other methods can be a slow process. Price comparison sites allow you to compare prices across several sites much more quickly.
Unfortunately no one price comparison site has prices for all the stores and they often have narrow product categories that skew towards electronics. The two best price comparison sites in Canada are Shopbot and shoptoit.
29) Rate Comparison
If you need to compare bank accounts, mortgages, GICs, or insurance coverage - there’s a site for that. Here are some of the top sites along with what they specialize in:
- RateSupermarket.ca - oldest comparison site (good for most things).
- Kanetix.ca - strongest in all types of insurance.
- ratehub - strongest in mortgage rates.
- LowestRates.ca - strongest in auto insurance.
30) Service Comparison
A lesser served area of comparison is everyday services we all use like cell phone, internet, TV, and home phone. Getting the best price on these services is also important though as we pay them each and every month. Here’s where to go:
- CompareMyRates - good for internet, TV, home phone, and cell phone.
- whistleOut - specializes just in cell phone plans.
31) Travel bidding
When it comes to bidding on travel so that you can get the lowest rates on unsold hotel and travel inventory, Priceline Name Your Own Price will always be the way to go. If you can’t be bothered bidding, then their Express Deals are also really good and often nearly as cheap as bidding.
Another great site is Hotwire where you get are shown the discounted price and general description of what you are buying but not the name of the hotel or car rental company until you complete your booking.
Read my how to win on Priceline guide to fully understand how to get the best price.
What Are Your Favourite Money Apps & Tools?
I’ve already given you a handful of new apps and tools to try out here, but I’m sure I haven’t found them all.
What do you use? Help us all out and share your favs in the comments.