Nowadays, we have apps on our smartphones and tablets for everything from social media to food and clothes shopping, and even for Uber taxis. In fact, it seems every business has an app that they’d love you to download.

I’m a big fan of whatever makes life easier and frees up time to do things you really want to do. But do these little squares on my smartphone make life easier or do they complicate it even more?

1. Evernote

This hugely successful, free app promises to be the only note-taking app you’ll ever need. It’s available for your smartphone, tablet and computer and serves as your notetaker, PDA, pocket notebook, to-do list, etc. A big attraction of Evernote is that it syncs automatically across all your devices and operating systems, so you’ll never forget your to-do-list again. And you can share notes – for work or even if you’re planning a social occasion with your besties.

There are three service tiers. The free basic option is limited as you can’t sync between three or more devices and can’t retrieve your notes without an internet connection. The other tiers are Plus (about £30 a year) and Premium (for £60 a year). With both of these tiers, you can sync across all devices and save data offline. So it’s worth shelling out if you think you need the benefits.

However, if you want to access some pretty useful features such as turning notes into presentations, viewing previous versions of notes and annotating PDFs, then Premium, as opposed to Basic and Plus versions, could be just what you need.

Can You Live Without It?

You will need to pay if you want the full benefits of Evernote. Without paying, you can use the app on your smartphone to make notes and email it to other devices, but you can’t work on the document on the other devices – making it a bit of a faff to access and add to. As a paid app, it is great – no limitations at all when using it between all your devices.

2. Spendee

For those that like to be in control of their finances, this budgeting app is a huge help to track your money. You can connect your bank accounts to the app and your purchases or credits are recorded, or you can manually input your expenditure. Either way you can view a selection of attractive graphs and charts to illustrate your incomings and outgoings. Best of all, this app handles multiple currencies for when you travel abroad. Everything is then synced across multiple devices.

The free version is fine, but with the paid premium version (£1.49 a month), you can create and manage multiple wallets and budgets, including shared ones – incredibly useful if you have shared spending, for example if you live with friends.

If you need to budget your finances, then Spendee can help too. In the Basic plan, you can only set one budget, but with the Plus or Premium applications, you can set an unlimited number of budgets for different categories, such as food or entertainment. You’re then notified when you spend 75% or 90% of your budget.

Can You Live Without It?

There are traditional ways to track your spending, such as only using cash for purchases (whilst sticking to a budget) or regularly examining your bank statement, but this app can be especially useful if you have multiple bank accounts and credit cards. And if you do have trouble sticking to a budget, the paid apps can give an early warning signal when you’re near your limit – and prevent you overspending.

Also, it is fun to view your finances graphically and quickly see where all your money goes (how many Neros in a week?!)

3. Loyalive

Are you fed up of loyalty cards bulging out of your wallet? Do you forget you have loyalty cards for some stores? Yes and yes are my answers.

Wouldn’t it be a great if there was an app that stored all of your loyalty card details and points, and also told you when the number of points equal a reward? Well Loyalive is a great app which supports around 300 loyalty programmes. It even creates a barcode for each so that you don’t have to carry the physical card with you. Pretty handy, I’d say. Anything that slims down my bulky purse – and potentially makes me money – I’m happy with.

Can You Live Without It?

Yes, of course you can, but you might find this app saves you time and ultimately money (never miss a reward opportunity again!). Better still, it’s free.

Obviously, you’ll have to invest time in setting up your accounts on the app, but once you’re done, that’s it. Pretty fab app with minimal faff.

4. Starbucks

This app is great if you’re on the go and need a quick caffeine fix! Download this free app and pay for your drinks and food by scanning your phone screen at the till. You’ll also receive rewards, such as free drinks, for using the app.

It works like this: you add funds from your bank account (or credit card / ApplePay) into your Starbucks account, place your order and pay ahead so that when you get to the shop, it is ready for you. The best thing is that you won’t have to wait in those annoying queues! Hurrah! And your name has a much better chance of being spelt correctly on your drinks holder!

Can You Live Without It?

That depends if you can live without caffeine! Seriously, this app is really very good and isn’t much of a faff at all. You can place your order when you’re on the train going into work and it’ll be ready by the time you arrive in the shop. And you get rewards for ordering on the app. Actually, I’m not sure I can live without this one!

So there you have it… there are so many apps out there, it’s difficult to state which will make our lives easier – it’s really down to personal choice.

Some people like pen and paper, some want to make notes on their smartphone. Some scan their bank statement online, others want to see fancy graphs showing their spending habits.

My best advice – if you see an app which looks promising and is free, download it and try it out. You’ll soon discover if it revolutionises your life or if it’s more faff than fab!

About the Author

My name is Natalie Blackburn and I’m a busy 36 year-old mum of two under five. I am from, and still live, in the vibrant city of Manchester. Since entering into my thirties and becoming a parent, I developed an interest in good financial planning, and coupled with my passion for writing, I have lovingly created the blog that you read on Sophisticated Savers.

Other interests of mine include reading (autobiographies are a particular favourite) and running (but only if I am pushed to, so I wouldn’t really call it an interest, but just wanted to sound as though I was quite fit!) and yoga (that is a real interest!). Wine and chocolate are also my real interests, and the occasional travel when I have the time.