Savvy Smartphone Ideas that Help Parents Save

When my “text and talk” phone went out, I was excited at the prospect of finally getting a new phone. I was tired of looking at that darn scratch that drove it’s way clear across the entire length of the screen. And as a thrifty person, I was even more excited about getting a brand new phone for free or as close to it as I could get. Yeah, I was excited. That is, until I realized that I pretty much would be forced to go with a really rinky-dink phone or upgrade to a smartphone.
Sure, I liked the idea of a smartphone. It sounded fun and as a self-employed mom of two, the convenience of it was certainly compelling. But when my carrier started informing me of the monthly service charge, I was less than thrilled.


I took a month off and asked friends and family who all said that these smartphones—and their hefty monthly price tags—were well worth it. I even asked complete strangers in the store for their undiluted opinion. Heck, an employee at Target was very frank. “Oh, man, it’ll change your life! Seriously, I was just like you…A doubter…” Long story made short, I took the leap. And that guy at Target was right. My smartphone has changed my life. But not in the ways I thought it would.

You see, I’ve discovered a handful of ways that my smartphone helps me save money as a parent, and that combined with all the other conveniences it offers me actually do justify the monthly bill at least for me personally. So if you’ve got kiddos and a smartphone, too, keep reading. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of the various ways it can help you save money too.

Put the fear of Santa in them (if your family does the “Santa thing!”). I admit it. I love using scare tactics. It’s not that I enjoy putting my kiddos in a panic or instilling fear. I love them because—well—they work. Whether you tote iPhone or an Android, both platforms feature “Santa scanner” apps that will scan your child (or you, for that matter!) to determine whether you’re naughty or nice. Is your kid acting up? Threaten to scan them regardless of locale!

Occupy your pint-sized family members without guilt. Our youngest child has a mountain of special needs, so it’s exceedingly difficult to find a babysitter. As a result, my husband and I haven’t been out alone in over 5 years. So we dine out once in a while in an effort to give ourselves respite. But as anyone who’s done this with kids knows, this can be expensive and anything but relaxing. From pining for an appetizer to claiming they’re bored, kids and dining out somewhere other than McDonald’s doesn’t always mix. So installed on my phone is several apps and games that are only accessible to my kids when I need them quietly sitting still and pronto!

Put your phone to work while shopping for holiday gifts. Looking for that one hot holiday gift your child is really hoping for? Trying to track down the best possible price? Before you head out, install a barcode scanning app on your phone so that you can scan it right there in the store. Immediately ensure that the price you’re about to pay is the best one. If you arrive at the store only to find the store shelf empty, scan the tag on the shelf to locate what stores in the area do have it in stock. Then, call to have the item held for you at customer service before even leaving your current location. Save time, save gas and save your sanity!

Photo credit: Paul Jacobson

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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