Budgeting, investing and all those different kinds of IRAs, oh my! Have I scared you off yet? Wait, wait, wait—come back.
Money. We all need it, most of us want more of it. It’s due time to shake off any intimidation about the topic and whip your finances into good health. Turns out no one is going to save for your retirement except you.
We’re here to help though, and so are these money-centric apps that’ll help you save the lazy way—with a few clicks and swipes on that little robot that rarely leaves our hand. Here, we’ve highlighted five apps, but there are countless options, and many of them have similar features and goals. So, which app is the best? Whichever one you’ll actually use.
Ready, set, go. Download, sync, save.
Yes, you do need a budget. Instead of looking back at your spending and guilt-tripping you about those Madewell jeans yes you did need, thank you very much, YNAB focuses on the money in your hands—the dollars you can still make good decisions with. Before you spend, YNAB encourages you to think through your priorities and goals, whether that’s immediate (rent is due) to short-term (Anna’s wedding in Cabo) to long-term (retirement, baby!).
“You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right,” they boast. YNAB focuses on prioritizing and planning, not restricting. YNAB syncs with your banks and can be used across devices, so you can buddy-buddy up alongside a partner to budget as a team. Graphs, charts, and hundreds of free online workshops even make money matters, dare we say…fun?
Upside: YNAB encourages you to reframe how to think about spending.
Downside: After a free 34-day trial, the app costs $6.99 a month, so it can be counterproductive if you’re not actively using it.
Tip Yourself is the proverbial pat on the back for the money-minded. Made coffee at home instead of buying another $6 latte? Tip yourself. Kept a cool, calm attitude during that annoying meeting? Tip yourself. Hit a personal record on your Peloton? You know what to do.
Simply link Tip Yourself with your checking account and watch your Tip Jar grow every time you cultivate two positive habits: being kind to yourself and saving money. Though the app is free, keep in mind that the money in your Tip Jar doesn’t earn interest.
Upside: It encourages good habits, both personally and money-wise.
Downside: Money collected via Tip Yourself doesn’t earn interest, and would work harder if allocated in a different account.
Set it and forget it. That’s how Digit and also that Ron Popeil infomercial rotisserie works.
After Digit is linked to your checking account, the app will analyze your spending and income, then transfer a few dollars into an FDIC-insured savings account every day. You’re in control whether you want to save more or less—simply text the app—and it’s easy to withdraw money whenever you need.
Free for 100 days, then $3 a month.
Upside: Digit is almost dastardly easy.
Downside: While there’s a no overdraft guarantee, you’ll want to keep an eye on your account when it’s bill paying time and be aware that Digit is periodically taking money out.
We all need an Albert in our lives. You know, someone part robot, part human guidance who analyzes your bills to help flag when you’re overpaying and alerts us when a free trial is coming to an end. (Coming from someone who accidentally paid for Audible for two years in her early 20s…)
Albert is like a personal finance assistant, creating a fit-to-your-needs budget based on your income, spending habits and bills. It helps you set aside money in a savings account and gives you personalized information about your current financial situation and how you can improve it.
The basic app is free, but if you upgrade to the premium account you have access to human experts who you can text to receive help and advice on all aspects of your financial life. Albert Genius answers your spending, saving and budgeting questions nearly instantly. Want to know the cheapest car insurance policy in Nashville? Text Albert.
Upside: It’s like having a financial advisor in your purse.
Downside: Is there one?
Every penny counts. That’s why Acorns—an app that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and allocates the spare change to investments—is so popular. When you set up an account, Acorns will suggest various exchange-traded funds based on your preferences and tolerance for risk. Once you reach a minimum of $5 in round-up savings, Acorns will automatically invest the micro-amounts into your chosen investment portfolio.
You can also use Acorns to set up recurring withdrawals from your bank accounts or use their retirement savings feature, Acorns Later, to invest in your choice of IRA: Roth, traditional or SEP. The Acorns app is free, but services cost between $1 and $3 a month, depending on the plan you choose.
Upside: Acorns is a good introduction to investing if you’re weary about risk.
Downside: If you have more than $5,000 invested in Acorns, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of .25% of the account balance.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er who muses about life, design and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. Her life rules include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tip in cash and contribute to your IRA. Be a pal and subscribe to her newsletter Night Vision.
BY Megan McCarty - July 6, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.