Everyone could benefit from improving their spending habits, but doing so is far easier said than done. Life is expensive, and even people with consistent incomes can struggle to manage their finances.
Thankfully, we live in a tech world where banking and finance management apps are growing in popularity. In minutes, you can link your credit card, debit card, and bank accounts to a bit of software and have your own personal financial expert at your fingertips.
According to a 2020 study from Inuit, 65% of Americans don’t know how much money they spend in a given month. Does that percentage shock you? Most people don’t pay close attention to their finances; not because they don’t want to, but because they’re not exactly sure how to start. If you’re part of that 65%, consider starting with these 6 apps:
Mint is an interactive budgeting app that’s easy to use and free to set up. It’s designed to provide a clear picture of your household finances. Once you link your credit and debit cards to the account, Mint automatically pulls your transactions and puts them into categories. This ensures you know exactly how much money you have, and where exactly that money goes.
With Mint, you can create budgets, set spending goals, and track your progress. Mint also highlights your spending habits, so you can understand what behaviors are keeping you from achieving your financial goals.
PocketGuard does exactly what the name suggests – it guards your pocket! This personal finance management service helps you create a budget and track your finances to ensure you’re not overspending.
With PocketGuard, you can easily link your credit cards, loan accounts, and bank accounts. The app then tracks how much you’re earning and follows what you spend on everyday expenses and recurring bills. After you’ve paid all your expenses, PocketGuard shows how much money is left over after, which you can then contribute to your savings.
PocketGuard also provides financial services that can help you lower your bills, pay off loans, and improve your credit score. For example, if you’re paying a $100 phone bill monthly that would cost $50 with another provider, PocketGuard will tell you. This app makes it easy to ensure you’re making smart financial decisions and living within your means.
You Need A Budget, better known as YNAB, is one of the most popular finance apps for building a better budget. The software is easy to understand and requires little technological or financial expertise to operate.
While some apps like Mint connect to your accounts, YNAB requires you manually enter your transactions into a series of spreadsheets. This might sound daunting, but it’s a good way to make sure you’re really paying attention to your finances.
After you set up your accounts, YNAB requires you to give every dollar “a job.” For example, some of your money will go to rent or your mortgage. Some will go into your savings or maybe your gym membership. With that information, YNAB will calculate your monthly budget so you know where you have wiggle room.
Albert is the ideal app for anyone who wants to take the guesswork out of budgeting. Once you connect your financial accounts to this app, Albert looks over all your information. It analyzes your income, spending habits, and budget. Using algorithms, the app decides how much you can save each month and then transfers that amount to Albert Savings, which is a part of the app.
If you don’t like the idea of your funds being automatically transferred, you can have Albert set aside an amount of your choosing. The good news is that you can withdraw the funds in Albert Savings whenever you want and with no fee.
Goodbudget is a budgeting service that helps you manage your finances. With this app, users can categorize their money into digital “envelopes” based on their specific goals. You can put $1,000 a month into an envelope for rent or $100 a month into an envelope for your groceries.
Once you’ve assigned a monthly amount to each envelope, you enter your transactions in real-time to see how they impact your budgets. For example, if you go to the grocery store and spend $25, you add that transaction to your grocery envelope. You’ll immediately see the remaining balance of $75 in that envelope and know you have that much left to spend on groceries that month.
Goodbudget even color coordinates your activity. The green bar under your envelopes means you have money left. The red bar means you’ve gone over your budget, letting you know exactly when it’s time to put on the breaks.
6. Personal Capital
Personal Capital is great if you’re trying to build up your net worth; this money management app helps track your budget. You can even link your retirement and investment accounts to Personal Capital. Doing so gives you an accurate view of your asset allocation and helps you evaluate your portfolio.
Personal Capital also offers a budgeting tool that automatically tracks your income and expenses. From there, it separates your costs into categories and uses graphical tools to show you where your money is going.
Personal Capital’s free app will collect your data and make recommendations to improve your spending habits. For a fee, you can use Personal Capital as an asset management service, great for those looking to manage both savings and investments in the same app.
It’s no secret that finance apps have seen huge growth in the last few years, prompting a complete transformation in how people manage their money. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this trend as consumers choose virtual banking over walking into a physical branch. Not only are finance apps convenient, but they’re helpful and cost-effective. These apps can save you from the onerous bank and financial advisor fees, leaving you more to spend and invest on your own terms.