5 Personal Finance Apps to Keep Your Finances in CheckMay 5, 2017
In today’s tech-savvy environment, it doesn’t take much to find that there’s an app for everything. If you want to edit a photo to post on Instagram, read a book, or track your food or workouts, there’s likely an app for it. It is as simple as making a few taps on your smartphone. With 95% of Americans owning some kind of cellphone according to PEW Research Center, it doesn’t seem surprising that apps are becoming so easy to use. Apps help make everyday life a little bit easier. The same simplicity can apply to personal finance apps.
If you are an avid smartphone user, you may have noticed that your experience is getting significantly easier. Instead of driving to your nearest bank to deposit a check, you can now do so from your smartphone in a matter of minutes. Checking your balance and transferring funds are simpler than ever. Did you know, there are apps that help you stick to your budget, remind you to pay bills, and invest money? Read on for five personal finance apps that could help make your life easier:
Cost: Free app install, $1 per month for the service
Best for: Wanting to make an extra buck
The idea behind Acorns™ is using your spare change to earn additional money. Essentially, this app is meant for investing, especially small amounts. You can start off by putting in just $5 and Acorns™ economists will invest your money into stocks and bonds for you. One major benefit to this app is it is mostly hands-off. There are three options for depositing money, which can all be done automatically:
- Investments from your bank account (recurring or one-time)
- Round up to the nearest dollar whenever you make a purchase on a debit or credit card (you will not see any money leave your credit or debit card until the round-ups reach $5)
- “Earn Found Money” is where you receive money from purchases made with specific brands
Acorns™ will then invest your money into over 7,000 stocks in bonds, and when you earn dividends the app will reinvest those without you even needing to tell it to. The service does come at a cost: $1 per month. You can pay $2 per month to add on Acorns Later™, which is an IRA that saves for retirement. There is also the option to withdraw your money whenever you would like. Investing your spare change in Acorns™ will likely give you a higher return than just letting it sit in your wallet.
Best for: Keeping track of finances
Mint™ is one of the most popular finance apps, and it is totally free. The purpose of the app is to manage your money, plain and simple. Whether that includes investments, credit cards, bills, or budgeting, you can take a look at all of your finances all in one place. You can also keep track of your credit score and the app will give you tips as to how to make it better. Mint™ will notify you when you need to pay your bills and tell you what you owe so you won’t miss any payments. The app tracks your purchases to make sure you are not going over your set budget and will let you know if you are close to doing so. Mint™ comes from Intuit™, which also owns TurboTax™, so there is a strong level of safety involved. Get this app if you are looking for convenience and simplicity in managing your finances for no cost.
Best for: Couples
This is an app that is made for couples. If you are in a relationship or married and have a hard time keeping up with finances with your partner, this is the app for you. It is designed to be collaborative, so both you and your partner are aware of bills and spending and can keep track of expenses. Custom categories can be created and then you set a monthly budget for each one. You can set bill reminders for just one person – that way you know for sure who is responsible for that bill. It doesn’t matter if you have a combined account or if your finances are completely separate because you can customize how much you share with each other. This app is sure to cut down on disagreements about finances between couples.
Category: Investing/Money Management
Best for: Working on your net worth
Personal Capital™ is for investment and money management and tracking your net worth. The app pulls together all of your investments, loans, credit cards, and bank accounts and determines what your net worth is and whether you are investing in the right places and gives advice as to how to improve your portfolio. This is a free app and is run by financial advisors both human and automated. There are tools for budgeting as well, but the real strength in this app is in discovering and improving your net worth. You can also use the technology and advisors to plan for retirement.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) ™
Category: Investing/Money Management
Cost: Free app install, $6.99 per month after free trial for service
Best for: Getting out of debt
YNAB™ has been growing in popularity over the last few years and has the goal to get you out of debt. It is primarily a budgeting app, but it also gives you the tools to learn how to get out and stay out of debt. You Need a Budget lives by four rules:
- Give every dollar a job: make sure you have budgeted for every dollar you get in income monthly
- Embrace your true expenses: always include expenses that occur less frequently within your monthly budget
- Roll with the punches: be aware that your budget will probably have to change – and be willing to make those changes
- Age your money: this is just saying that you should be using last month’s paycheck to pay this month’s bills
YNAB™ is an effective app that many users swear by, but it does cost money. You will be charged $6.99 each month after a 34-day free trial. Use that free trial period to determine whether the guidance is worth the price.
Add Personal Finance Apps to Your List
According to PEW Research Center, 77% of Americans go online on a daily basis. Of those 77% of Americans, 43% of them go online multiple times a day. If you frequently use apps to make your life easier, why not add a few personal finance apps to your phone? The more you keep up with your finances, the more aware of them you will be. There are apps for sticking to your budget, tracking credit score, investing, fraud protection, and more, and these are just a few of the many personal finance apps out there.
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