New Year, new you? How about New Year, new ways to save your money? Every start of the year gives us another chance to implement better money-saving habits or to improve upon the ones we’ve already adopted. It’s no surprise that the top resolutions for Americans often include financial-oriented goals.
At the start of 2017, digital marketing company, iQuanti, compiled a list of the most popular resolutions based on Google search terms the year prior. Rounding out the top five was the resolve to “spend less and save more.” In a recent PNC Financial survey of employed U.S. adults, when asked which financial-related resolutions they are most likely to make in 2018, 40% stated save more money each month, 31% said reduce spending each month, and 27% wanted to save more for retirement.
But as quickly as we make them, many of us are also more likely to break financial resolutions due to circumstances or plain lack of discipline. Each year, money-related resolutions make multiple lists of common New Year’s resolutions that people break. But not all hope is lost—there are some worthy financial apps sitting in your smartphone’s app store that can help make your financial resolutions stick or at the very least, provide you with a fresh, empowered way of thinking about your money.
Whether it’s the resolve to save an extra $100 a month, put money toward a travel or emergency fund, increase your credit score, or buy into that stock you’ve been eyeing, these money-saving apps can make your 2018 money-saving goals a bit more doable and motivate you to not ditch your financial resolution three months or three weeks in.
Featured by Forbes and Time Magazine as among the best apps in finance, Empower helps you build wealth by paying down debt, improving your credit score, canceling unwanted subscriptions, and keeping track of all your finances in one place. The app also tracks your spending patterns and makes customized suggestions catered to your lifestyle. For a more complete overview of your finances, Empower also allows you to sync any investment and borrower accounts.
This app is a force in the microsavings realm. Simply link your credit and debit card to the app so that it could track your purchases. It rounds those purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference for you into exchange-traded funds. Acorns designs an investment portfolio for you based on the information you provide upon signing up, but there are other portfolios to choose from. It costs $1 per month and .25% of the balance once your portfolio hits $5,000. It’s free for college students.
No list of best apps for saving/managing money is complete without Mint. It claims to take the hassle out of budgeting by creating a personalized budget and auto-categorizing your transactions after you sync your bank account. Just link your account to the app and it does the work for you. Mint also sends you alerts when bills are due and notifies you of any unusual charges. It can also tell you how you can reduce money on bills and monthly fees.
Is that Planet Fitness membership just languishing month after month while you automatically give away $10 that could be used for something else? Then Clarity Money will happily remind you of that. It is a financial ally that helps you cancel wasteful or forgotten subscriptions and alerts you if you are spending more than what you allotted for in your budget. The app also displays how much you’ve spent, keeps track of your monthly income, advises you how to use your credit card responsibly, and tells you the days until your next paycheck. It can also help you discover better credit card deals based on your spending habits and can generate your credit score for free.
For those who want to increase their credit score, the popular Credit Karma app is the best free app that allows consumers to see how high or low their score is without getting a hard credit check and causing damage to the current score. You can also monitor your reports and receive alerts when there are fluctuations. The app also allows you to challenge any errors and offers suggestions on how to increase your score.
Digit is great if you’re new to the budgeting game or if you’re not too good at sticking to a money-saving plan. After you sync your checking account, it automatically determines a feasible amount of money that you can afford to save and places that amount into your savings account. The best part is that it comes with a no-overdraft guarantee, so you can carry on without worrying that the app will take more out of your account than you can afford. Each morning you receive a text informing you of your current balance, and with a weekly status report on how much you’ve saved, you can soon be on your way to hitting your financial goals. It’s free for the first 100 days and $2.99 a month after.
You Need a Budget
Investopedia.com calls YNAB the best app for getting out of debt. It allows you to create a budget based on a few ground rules: give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, plan for infrequent expenses, roll with the punches if you end up overspending, and learn how to live on last month’s income. In other words, it works with what you have in order for you to attain more and gain control of your finances. If you overspend, it provides you with a snapshot of what you need to do differently to get back on track with the built-in “accountability partner.” After the free 34-day trial, it costs $50 a year and also offers online classes with live instructors to help you learn or brush up on the basics and best practices of budgeting.
This online banking app includes tools that allow you to budget and save, all with no fees. Once you set a goal, your Simple account automatically sets aside what you need to save. Goals also work as digital envelopes to store money for all your budget categories. Their Safe-to-Spend feature ensures that you don’t overspend by informing you of what’s left after your goals, scheduled bill payments, and pending transactions. The app does require you to sign up for a Simple Visa® Card and Banking Services are provided by Compass Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.
If you or someone you know has ever designated envelopes with cash for specific purposes, example: groceries or entertainment, think of Mvelopes as the digital equivalent of that method. It allows the user to categorize their savings and fosters discipline by not allowing you to borrow money from one envelope if another is empty. Mvelopes also sets up a monthly financial plan for you. The basic version costs $3.99 a month and a free one month trial ends Jan. 26, 2018. The plus version grants access to coaching sessions and the debt-reduction center.
If creating a monthly expense sheet in Excel is intimidating at all to you, Wally makes it easy and manageable by giving you a view of what goes out and what comes in. The creators of the app aim to “give you the tools to understand where your money goes, and empower you to set and achieve financial goals.” The app tracks your expenses by allowing you to take photos of your receipts—a much easier way than having to input every amount you spent.
If you want to make that business idea a reality, buy that new smartphone, or finally take a trip to your dream destination, Unsplurge can help by allowing you to save up for that specific splurge expense. It contains a social component where you can share your financial goals and progress to the app’s social community, including your friends or family. If you’re falling short of meeting that goal, they can give you a reminder or tips, motivating you once again to keep your eyes on the prize.
NerdWallet dubbed Qapital as best for goal-setting. Whether it’s a dream to head somewhere or simply become better at saving, this app moves your money automatically using various methods or rules that keep you accountable. Just input your goal and how much you need to reach it. After that, you can choose to place loose change from your credit card into an FDIC-insured savings account, set up daily, weekly or monthly automatic deposits toward your goal, save a percentage each time you get paid or opt for the 52 week rule where you save $1 in week one, $2 in week two and so on until you reach 52 weeks.