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My Top 5 Smartphone Apps

I’ve had my smartphone for a little over a year now, and I have to say, I really do love it.

$21/month smartphone plan through Ting Wireless

Because of my Ting wireless plan, I feel like I have all the upsides of a smartphone and none of the downsides:

I have a low bill (usually $12/month) and no contract with Ting, and because of the way the Ting plan operates (You pay for what you use), I am not prone to using my phone when out and about.

Since I’m trying to be mindful of my smartphone habits, I don’t use a whole lot of apps.

The few I do use, though, I love passionately.

1. Instagram

Instagram is my favorite social media platform in the (short) history of social media platforms.   If I gave up my smartphone, I do believe Instagram is what I would miss most.

Kristen (@thefrugalgirl) • Instagram photos and videos - Mozilla Firefox 3232015 74026 AM

Why do I love it so?

It’s pictures, pictures, pictures (obviously I adore that), the privacy settings are simple (either it’s all public or all private, unlike Facebook), and it’s a much more interesting and cheerful place than Facebook.

Since you have to post a picture with each status update, you get a lot less of things like political rantings, complaints about people/work/family/customer service, and so on.

Plus, there’s no Facebook-ish clutter in the feed (“So and so liked this article.   So and so became friends with Random Person You Have No Interest In Hearing About.”)

Can you tell that Facebook doesn’t really blow my hair back??

Anyway, reading the Instagram feed of all the people I follow is just pretty much a wonderful experience.

Kristen (@thefrugalgirl) • Instagram photos and videos - Mozilla Firefox 3232015 75944 AM

Instagram is also a great deal of fun on the posting end of things.   I love to take pictures, as you well know, and it’s marvelous to have a quick and easy way to share small stuff that might not make it onto the blog.

(I am thefrugalgirl on Instagram, in case you want to see what all I post over there.)

2. iMessage

Before I got my smartphone, I’d only sent maybe 3 texts in my whole life.

(I had a flip phone, ok?? with nothing but a numeric keyboard.   Texting was way too much work.)

But with my iPhone, texting is super easy, and texting with other iPhones over wifi using iMessage is totally free.


(There are ways to text for free over wifi with Androids as well.)

Fortunately, most of the people in my life have iPhones, which means I pay nearly nothing for texting.

Because I am of a slightly older internet generation, I still do adore email.   But a lot of people younger than me don’t really check their email, so texting is a great way to communicate with them.

Texting has been such a convenient method for checking in on people I care about, asking about how things are going in their lives, and asking how I can pray for or help them.

And my small group from church and I have a fairly constant group text thing going on, where we can ask for prayer and encouragement, organize gatherings, share funny stuff, and just generally build our relationships.

So, I’m a big fan of texting because it is a tool that helps me to connect with people, especially with people I would not normally call.

3. Weather

I love my Weather Channel app.   It’s free and makes it so easy to anticipate what’s coming my way.



Plus I use it faithfully at this time of year to track the extra minutes of daylight we get. (“Ooh, the sunrise time is nearly 7:30!   Woo!”)

4. My Bank App

I have a pretty conveniently located bank, so I used to deposit my checks thru the ATM all the time.

But they “upgraded” to a more automated system that scans the checks, and 9 times out of 10, it had trouble reading the check and you had to put it in multiple times and multiple directions before it would take it.

And even then I had to park and go into the bank sometimes because the machine just would not take a check.

Now, though, I can deposit checks right from my phone using my bank’s app and it is FREAKING FANTASTIC.

So easy and I never, ever have to deal with that stupid automatic machine again.


5. The 7-Minute Workout

This is the only paid app I have (it’s $0.99).   It’s basically a high intensity interval training kind of workout, where you do 30 seconds of a certain exercise at maximum speed, rest for 10 seconds, do another 30 seconds of an exercise, and so on.


I’m sure it’s not as effective as a longer workout, but on days where you think, “Oh, gosh, I do NOT have time to work out.” this is perfect.

Because I mean, really, who doesn’t have 7 minutes?   I probably waste at least 7 minutes before 7:00 each day.

Also, there are other workouts you can download for $0.99 once the first set isn’t challenging (I’ve only gotten to the second set myself.)


Those of you that have smartphones, what are your most-used apps?


P.S. Mr. FG and I both have refurbished iPhone 4S‘s, which we bought on Amazon, and our cell service is through Ting Wireless, where we generally pay less than $24/month for BOTH of our phones.   You can read all about how we use Ting right here.

And you can click here to visit Ting and sign up (try their savings calculator…almost everyone will save by switching to Ting, even with early termination fees.)

Signing up through any links on my blog will save you $25!

This post contains affiliate links.   Thanks for helping to keep the lights on around here!


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Sunday 29th of March 2015

I've been trying to get my family and friends to use Google Hangouts rather than SMS or iMessage. It's free, has all the same features as iMessage, but is open to everyone not just iPhone/iPad users. Also you can text people from any internet connected "thing" you might be in front of (computer, iPhone, Android, whatever). I've also found that it seems to have less problems than iMessage with messages getting lost or arriving out of order. No matter what device you're on your whole chat history is there so you can pickup a conversation right where you left off.


Sunday 29th of March 2015

I'll keep this in mind in case I snag some friends who aren't iphone users! So far, I've been lucky in that almost all the people special to me have iphones.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

How is security with some of these apps? A lot of the apps I considered using stated that they needed access to my contact list, my files, etc. Is this safe? Thanks!


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Well, I'm not super schooled on this, but I would venture to guess that if the app is from a respected source, it's probably fine.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Ting coverage didn't work for us here in the South even though the coverage map indicates it would. Just like with T-mobile, we couldn't use our cell phones in our home because of the spotty coverage. My husband did some research and found out about Page Plus which is a similar plan on the Verizon network. It's been a great fit for us with a base plan for a smartphone around $12.95/mo. The only catch is that when we purchased a used iPhone 5, it requires a plan that is a step up because of the 4G. Still, we pay less now for the two smartphones than we paid for two basic phones when we had a plan with Verizon.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

I just got a smartphone two weeks ago and love it even more than I expected to! My favorite apps are eMeals (because $5/month is worth the food waste I save and the guilt/time I no longer spend procrastinating meal planning), Kindara (a beautiful fertility tracking app) and YNAB (the app is so easy to use for logging transactions compared to the pc version). The convenience of having apps on my phone vs needing to go on a computer has been mind-blowing. Oh, Evernote has been a useful app for me as well - with my old phone if I wanted to remember something I'd type it into a text message and save it as a draft.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

I have an android (but us apple apps for my ipad) I have a monthly plan with spring - I fall in the gap of wanting use of the phone where wifi isn't always available and not getting my money's worth for what I'm paying. since I have unlimited data, etc with my plan I like to use Pandora for streaming music. I also started using map my walk which estimates calories and shows where I've walked- it links to myfitnesspal (another app I like having handy for keeping track of calories and exercise). I occasionally use Biblegateway on my phone but usually I use it on my computer since that screen is a lot bigger! I also hve the weather app

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