Why technology can really fit the bills
Investing effort in technology can help you save money, and with smartphones in particular there’s no reason to waste cash, writes CIARA O'BRIENDITCH THE GYM
A typical gym membership costs about €40 to €50 per month, which over a year can add up. But technology has made gym membership all but redundant. These days you have GPS watches to track your runs, or if you’re not willing to spend even that, your smartphone will step in. Get going with a couch-to-5k app.
There are plenty of apps out there to keep track of your running achievements – MapMyRun and Adidas’s MiCoach are free, while Nike+ GPS costs only a couple of euro.
If you want something a bit more fun, try Zombie Run, which encourages you to run faster and farther by putting you in the middle of a pretend zombie apocalypse. Along your run, you pick up various supplies needed back at the survivors’ camp. Thanks to some audio trickery, you can even hear them breathing down your neck as you run. It’s the best motivator we’ve ever heard of. If running isn’t your thing, you could try Nike Training Club, which gives you 85 custom-built workouts covering everything from toning up to losing body fat. And it’s all for free, too.
REDUCE YOUR ENERGY BILLS
An energy monitor itself may not save you money, but how it changes your behaviour probably will. Hook one of these up to your meter and you’ll see just how much power you’re using each day, and quickly figure out how to cut back on wasted consumption.
You’ll be able to pinpoint the power-hungry appliances in your household, so it’ll probably scare you into choosing more energy-efficient appliances. If nothing else, it will encourage you to be more conscious of switching off things when they aren’t in use, saving you a few euro here and there.
Look around your home. See all those little red standby lights blinking at you? Every single one of them is costing you money. It varies from appliance to appliance, but in general, standby can use up to 30 per cent of the power an electronic product needs when it is switched on.
The cheapest way to solve this problem is, of course, to unplug it. But if that’s too awkward, you could always pick up some plugs that cut the power to the appliance. Some work by automatically sensing when the appliance has been turned off; others work via a remote control.
For a less high-tech solution, you can buy plugboards with individual switches, so you can turn off the items you don’t need and still have power for the ones you are using.
ONLINE VOUCHERS AND COUPONS
Online offers can sometimes be a bit of a false economy, encouraging you to buy things you wouldn’t usually use. And if – as frequently happens – you don’t use the vouchers within the specified time, that’s money down the drain.
But if you keep an eye out for everyday offers that will genuinely save you money – shoe repair, dry cleaning – you could save a tidy sum. The problem is that there are now multiple websites offering different deals. To keep your email inbox clutter-free, sign up for a daily email such as MyDealPage, which will send you most of the offers on the market in a single email every day.