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5 money-saving apps picked by Jean Chatzky

Made a New Year's resolution to start saving more money? Here are five apps that'll make it easier to get there!

Raise Mobile
Raise allows you to purchase discounted gift cards to be used instantly. It uses your phone’s location services to find savings, then allows you to securely purchase cards and have them delivered instantly, for use in-store or online. The savings can be significant. Right now, you can find a Dunkin' Donuts card with a discount of 15 percent. You can purchase physical cards with free shipping as well, and sell your unwanted cards on the marketplace.

Although the number has gone down in recent years, an estimated $750 million in gift cards went unused in 2014. And the app keeps track of cards you’ve purchased and their balances. 

The app is free for iPhone. And Android is coming in the next month or so.

Apps are a great start but join Jean's 52-week savings challenge to save even more!

Level Money
Level Money helps you budget by showing you not just how much money you have, but how much spendable money you have — in other words, a real-time picture of where you stand. 

They call this a “financial GPS.” Based on your income, reoccurring bills and how much you want to save, it gives a pot of money to work with at the beginning of each month, breaking that figure down into a monthly spending budget, weekly spending budget and a daily spending budget. That’s really helpful since the amount consumers are spending is on the rise. In December it rose to $98, which is an amount we haven’t seen since 2008 (and for people who earn more than $90K a year, it’s an average $177 a day!) Then it adjusts how much you have left as you spend, by connecting to your bank and credit card accounts.

If you’re a fan of using cash to budget, but want the security and rewards that come with credit and debit cards, this is a nice hybrid, because it works like a cash budget does, showing you exactly how much you have left after accounting for expenses. 

Level Money is free on Android and iPhone. 

You can use it to track your money and budget –- like Level Money -- but the real beauty of the app is to keep track of your accounts. It quickly shows you all new charges on your credit and debit card accounts, so you can swipe those that are legitimate and flag any that may be fraudulent. It alerts you of suspicious charges, gives you information about the latest data breaches, and allows you to dispute wrongful charges right through the app.  

That’s important. There were 761 data breaches last year, exposing 83 million consumer records. That’s an increase of about 25 percent from the year earlier. It also gives you access to coupons based on your spending habits.

Available for free for iPhone and Android. 

Mint Bills
An extension of Mint, Mint Bills links your bank accounts, credit cards and bills, so you can see how much you have along side how much you owe. It will send you reminders when a bill is coming due, and let you know if funds are getting too low to meet it. 

That’s important because although the number of average overdrafts per account has dropped in the past few years from 9 to 7, the charge for each overdraft has gone up from $26 to $30.  Once you get the reminder about your bills, you can pay them right from the app, or schedule a payment for later.

The mobile app is free and available for iPhone and Android.

Ready for Zero
This app gives you the motivation and organization you need to pay off debt. That’s good news since the average amount of credit card debt we’re carrying is up about 3 percent from last year. The average household with credit card debt owes $15,611 according to the most recent statistics from the federal reserve.

Once you’ve linked all of your accounts — everything from student loans to credit cards to mortgages and car notes — it helps you make a personalized payoff plan and gives you reminders when bills are due. You can track payment due dates, balances and progress toward your goals from the app. An upgraded version allows you to send payments (either one-time or automated regular payments), calculate ways to shave money and time off of your goal, and track your Vantage credit score.

The basic app is available on iPhone and Android for free. The upgraded version is $10 without credit tracking and $15 with.