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Five iPhone apps that can save you money

I know, AT&T is putting you in the poorhouse. You can't get around those outrageous monthly fees, but you can save money on other things in life by leveraging these pennywise apps.

Keep BetterDeal on hand at the grocery store to figure out which size offers the best deal.

As I often tell people, it's not the price of the iPhone that bothers me--it's the monthly fees! (Grumble, grumble, AT&T, grumble.)

Alas, while there's no way to get around that $70/month minimum, at least I can use my iPhone to save money on other things: gas, groceries, books, DVDs, and even energy. Let's take a look at five killer apps that can help you pocket extra cash.

  • BetterDeal Next time you find yourself standing in a supermarket trying to figure out which size box of corn flakes provides the best bang for the buck, fire up BetterDeal. This 99-cent app lets you compare prices for up to four packages to see which is, well, the better deal.
  • Gas Buddy Saving a nickel or dime per gallon of gas may not seem like much, but it adds up over time. Gas Buddy ($2.99) shows you which nearby stations have the lowest prices (and provides maps if you don't know the area), so you can pocket that extra change every time you fill up. (Obviously this app works best for those who live in densely populated areas--and drive a lot.)
  • MeterRead You know the mantra: Save electricity, save money, save the planet. But does turning off lights when you leave a room really make an impact? MeterRead helps you find out by keeping tabs on meter readings (which you record periodically) and projecting your energy usage. It's strictly an informational tool (one with a mediocre interface), but if you're serious about saving energy, this 99-cent app should help.
  • pic2shop So you're at Target, about to plunk down your cash on Firefly: The Complete Series on DVD (good call), but then you wonder: Is this the best price? Find out fast with pic2shop, which scans product barcodes and quickly pulls up the prices from "thousands of online retailers" (according to the developer). The live (i.e. real-time) barcode scanning is seriously cool, and the app itself costs nothing. Win-win!
  • Yowza Mobile Coupons In an ideal world, your iPhone will serve up proximity-based coupons, like "get $1 off now!" when you drive by a Jamba Juice. For now, Yowza (free) is the closest thing. It finds deals in your area, though only from merchants that have partnered with the service. That may limit its viability for some users (get more partners, Yowza!), but I found about half a dozen coupons within 15 miles--including one for Finish Line, and I'm in the market for new running shoes. Score!

I know a lot of people are partial to AAA Discounts, which serves up deals near your location. Great app, but only if you're a triple-A member.

I'm also a fan of the suggestion over at Wise Bread to use Pandora instead of buying music, though why limit yourself to one music-streaming app? Grab and Slacker while you're at it.

OK, you've got my picks. Now tell me what apps you've used to save money--and how much you've saved!