Four websites that will save you money

The internet can be a powerful money-saving tool. Whether you are looking to manage your personal finances, book a cheap flight, or shop for the cheapest groceries, there is a website that can help you. Here, Ruth Jackson picks four of the best, plus five of the best iPhone apps.

The internet can be a powerful money saving tool. Whether you are looking to manage your personal finances, book a cheap flight or shop around for the cheapest banana there is a website out there that can help you. Here are four of the best.

1. MoneyDashboard

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Internet banking can make it difficult to keep an exact handle on how much money you have. You may have to log in to one account to check your current account balance, another for your credit card balance, another for your savings, and yet another to check on your mortgage balance. This also means remembering a wealth of passwords and id numbers or sitting in front of a computer cursing modern technology if, like me, you forget them.

Now though, you can view all your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and savings on one screen with live, up-to-date balances. Best of all, you only need to remember one set of security details. FirstDirect has offered this service for a number of years now. It is free of charge and you don't have to be a customer to sign up. The problem is that their program won't run on Apple Macs and the service is fairly limited.

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But now there is MoneyDashboard. Not only can you view all your different accounts on one screen on this site, you can also set up a budget and monitor what you are spending your money on. And you can program alerts so you will receive an email or text message if you go into the red.

2. MySupermarket

Most of us shop around before we buy big-ticket items such as a fridge or a television. But when it comes to supermarket shopping one of our biggest monthly expenses we often shop at the nearest store and tend to just grab the brands we know.

Whether you shop online or instore MySupermarketcan help you save money. You pick a supermarket (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's or Ocado) and pick out the items that you want to buy. As you shop you'll see a running total of what your basket costs alongside what it would cost if you bought the same goods at the other three supermarkets. And as you go along you can use the 'Swap and Save' facility to take advantage of deals or switch brands to get the best price.

Once you've finished shopping you can check to see which supermarket would be the cheapest one for you to buy your goods from. You can then opt to click and buy your items online you'll be redirected to the supermarket's website along with your basket. Or you can print out your shopping list and head down to the supermarket yourself.

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I typically knock about 5% off my shopping bill with this website. Not bad considering it doesn't take me any longer than doing my shop through a supermarket's own website. And I find MySupermarket easier to navigate.

3. Skyscanner

Ifyou are planning a trip abroad don't book your flights until you have consulted Skyscanner. You put in where you want to go and when. It then searches all the major and most of the minor airlines and the big travel agent websites to find the cheapest deals.

And if you know where you want to go, but haven't settled on specific dates, you can search for the lowest fares available over an entire month, or even a year. Be careful though if one month is substantially cheaper than the others you might want to check why. You may not want a cheap deal in hurricane season or during a public holiday when everything closes.

4. MyVoucherCodes

Before you buy anything online check MyVoucherCodes. This website has discount codes for hundreds of retailers. For example, they currently have codes giving you 20% off at The Body Shop, 10% off at Waterstones and 25% off at Debenhams. Those could save you a fortune when it comes to your Christmas shopping. Just tap in the name of the shop you want to spend your cash at and it will bring up any valid codes.

The best money-saving apps

If you have an iPhone you can use your internet money savings skills on the move. Here are five great apps that will help you with your finances:

1. Vouchercloud

Voucherclouduses GPS to provide a list of discounts and special offers available where you are. It also tells you about discounts available at local restaurants.

2. ATM hunter

Avoid paying fees at cash dispensers with ATM Hunter. It will tell you where the nearest fee-free ATM is. This app is also available for Blackberry users.

3. Petrol Prices

Petrol Priceswill check over 11,000 petrol stations to find the cheapest one in your town or postcode area.

4. Red Laser

By turning your phone's camera into a barcode scanner, Red Laser letsyou can scan items and find out whether you can buy them cheaper elsewhere.

5. AA Parking

The AA Parkingapp may cost £1.79 but it will save you far more than that. Tap in where you are and it will tell you where all the nearby car parks are and how much they charge so you can find the cheapest one.

And finally, don't forget to check for more money-saving articles as well as tips on how to invest all the extra cash you've saved.

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Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.