Remember when you had to go to the bank and wait in line to deposit your checks and withdraw cash from the teller? And you couldn’t automatically save money; you had to intentionally deposit $50 into your savings each week and put pen to paper to draw up a budget. Remember all those nights when you sat down with a stack of bills on one side, and a checkbook on the other? Paper envelopes were carefully opened, and receipts were organized and filed. Finances were full-scale research projects back then (as was reading through the newspapers to keep track of how your stocks were performing) and sometimes it was difficult to know what was really going on. Not anymore.
In our modern times—when there is an app for everything—it’s way easier to track your money, track financial goals, and stay on budget. Automated payments mean you never have to miss a bill payment, and you can browse the internet and buy almost anything with your cell phone.
The problem is that there are too many options out there, which is why we put together this list of the best financial apps for you to consider.
Mint is a feature-packed personal-finance stalwart that has been the gold standard for budgeting apps for some time. It connects to all your bank accounts and credit cards and allows you to access everything using just your Mint app, although you can also use it on your desktop. Mint will track your bills, their due dates, and when your payment deadline is. These reminders are optional, yes—but they can help you avoid late fees if you tend to be absentminded.
The app automatically updates and categorizes transactions, creating a picture of your spending in real time. Users can even add their categories, set budgets that alert you when they start to top out and split ATM transactions into the purchases made with that cash and You can also keep up to date on your credit score without signing up on a separate website or paying for a report.
In 2009, Mint was acquired by Intuit, the makers of Quicken and TurboTax, who are leaders in the finance industry, so it’s worth trying to see if you like it.
Acorns is a savings-driven app which provides innovative ways to micro-invest in a series of simple ways. Round-Ups invest your spare change from everyday purchases on your debit card, rounding up to the nearest dollar, then taking the change and investing it into a portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.
Recurring Investments can be set up a daily, weekly or monthly automatic investment. Acorns Later is an easy way to save for retirement, Found Money lets you earn reward dollars when you shop with over 200 top brands, and Acorns Spend is a dedicated checking account that saves, invests, and earns interest for you.
ETFs are traded similarly to regular stock on an exchange, so their values fall and rise with purchases and sales. The Acorns app selects the ETF for you based off the amount of risk level you choose, and if you have some extra money left to invest, you can add it to the account and increase the amount you’re making. Be careful, though—high risk means high reward, but it can also spell disaster. Always make sure you’ve got all your bills covered before you put money into an investment.
3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
You Need a Budget is a multi-platform personal budgeting program based on the envelope method. It’s about being intentional about what you want your money to do before you spend it and encourages you to focus on your income and budget while paying off debt, thereby creating a balanced approach to living.
It goes out of its way to break your pay down by every expense ranging from vacations to clothes, random acts of charity, or home maintenance, among other things. It also creates a flexible system for when you’ve exceeded your budget for emergency purchases and allows for a smooth shift in numbers to compensate.
However, it requires a financial investment of $6.99 a month (of $83.99 a year) but enrolled students are eligible to receive 12 months for free.
“Age Your Money” is one of YNAB’s steps, which means working toward spending money today that you earned at least a month ago by sticking to your budget. This means eventually you won’t have to time your bills with paychecks because you’ll be living far away from the financial edge.
Clarity Money was featured on Google Play as “One of the Best of 2017,” on Apple as “One of 2017’s New Apps We Love,” and was nominated for a Webby Award for “Best Finance App.” With over 1 million users and counting, it’s quickly become one of the top finance apps.
Clarity Money helps you bring more transparency to your spending and divides itself into four categories: a home feed, an accounts page, a search tool, and your profile. The home feed is a colorful array of charts, illustrations, and spending trackers. From the moment you open the app, you’ll see your current cash on hand and credit debt. As you scroll down, you’ll see your recent transactions and the amount of money you have left to spend for the month, visually displaying your financial picture and warning you when you’re over budget and recommending cards and other services based on your spending habits.
The app is studded with useful cards telling you whether you’re using your credit responsibly or spending more than you should. It offers several useful tools inside its home feed that do the following:
A) Monitoring your subscriptions and offering to cancel the unwanted ones on your behalf.
B) Regularly checking your credit score.
C) The ability to transfer money between accounts.
D) Creating an automated savings account based on rules that you set up.
Ultimately, since Clarity can’t yet do everything that Mint can do, Mint is still the best choice for those who like to create budgets manually.
The idea behind Wally is that we tend to manage our finances haphazardly. Some people use Excel, others use personal accounting software, but many of us don’t know the best way to handle our cash, debit cards, credit cards, savings, or debt.
Wally is an app that helps you compare your income with your expenses, enabling you to see where your money is going and letting you set trackable financial goals (and even save pictures of your receipts!). This consistent financial transparency lets you become organized and master your finances. For now, the basic version of this app is free, but Wally plans on including affordable premium options in the near future.
Honeyfi is an app that helps couples simplify their finances and spend mindfully as a team, designed to help couples stay on track with either separate or joint finances. It focuses on household budgets and can connect to all of your accounts to help you stay on top of your spending, budget, goals, and savings.
It’s designed for collaboration towards bigger and better financial goals, whether that means getting married, moving in together, buying a house, or having a baby.
Honeyfi comes with a variety of privacy settings that let you choose what to share with your partner, thereby ensuring that your surprise anniversary gift isn’t sent automatically to your spouse. You can comment on transactions and tag them as yours, mine, or ours and share money insights with each other.
We’ve all forgotten to cancel a free trial to something that then auto-renews. Truebill is an app that wants to make you aware of all the seemingly low-cost subscriptions that add up to lots of money spent. It uses an algorithm to help you identify and cancel recurring payments made from your credit cards and bank accounts so that you can find ways to save.
Most of us dread calling a company and waiting on hold for what seems like an eternity, only to reach a representative who will resist your attempts to lower your rate until you threaten to take your business elsewhere. Truebill can automatically request refunds when your bank charges you an overdraft or late fee, negotiate your cell phone or cable bill to up to 20% lower with no hassle, and figure out ways to get rid of or reduce interest charges.
Saving money while having fun is the purpose of WinWin, especially if you love to play games and gamble. Americans spend approximately $44.7 billion on instant or scratch and win tickets. WinWin, which targets the 138+ million Americans struggling to survive financially, is an attempt to harness that bad behavior for good. You can link your bank to the app and set up automatic deposits of at least $5 per month.
Once you have invested in your WinWin account, you are eligible to play a daily game with a chance to win instant cash prizes. The more money you have saved, the higher the prizes you play for.
The money you auto-save is automatically transferred from your external bank account into your WinWin-branded savings account, which is held at Wells Fargo. Your money is FDIC-insured, and you can take it out at any time. However, if you tend to be compulsive when it comes to games and spend everything you intended to save, this might not be the right app for you.
COST: $1/month and up
The Investment app Stash aims to make the process of finding and selecting investments—specifically exchange-traded funds and individual stocks—easy and approachable through a curated list of investing themes that are well-known, approachable, and straightforward such as technology or Eco-friendly companies. They offer a no-fee Stash Visa Debit card and a feature called Stash Coach to help guide you as you invest. There are over 100 investments available on Stash so far, and a built-in chart lets you quickly compare them, using factors like Dividend Yield and Historical Performance.
Your first custodial account will cost $1 per month. Additional custodial accounts are half-off ($1 every two months). All custodial accounts with balances $5,000 and over will cost 0.25% per year of assets.
COST: FREE or PLUS at $6/month
Formerly known as Easy Envelope Budget Aid, the Goodbudget app is based on the tried-and-true envelope system your grandparents swore by. This is a digital version of designating dollar amounts to different expense categories so that you won’t be surprised by an unexpected expense. Its syncing abilities work well for couples that want to collaborate in their budgeting process together.
Goodbudget is ideal for those who want to manually keep track of their budget, instead of using an automated system like Mint. It also encourages a sense of community by featuring real-life stories on their money podcast.
Related: How to plan a vacation on a budget
Prism is a simple bill management app that lets you see and pay all your bills from a single app. It’s similar Mint or Personal Capital, except that it’s dedicated solely to managing your bills and does not have budget capabilities. First, you link all your bills. Next, you connect your payment accounts (checking account and credit cards) which you use to pay your bills.
Whenever a new bill is due, Prism sends a notification to your phone to let you know that you should schedule the payment. You can then go into the app and either pay the bill immediately or schedule a payment for a later date.
Since Prism doesn’t use a third-party payment platform, you can pay any bill right away without any delay. After you’ve paid a bill once, Prism remembers the method you use, making future payments that much faster.
You can input your paydays to track your income in comparison to your bills to ensure you put aside enough to cover them every month. Prism also notifies you if your bill is suddenly much higher than it was in the previous month and recommend that you double check for accuracy. Finally, Prism keeps a history of all your bills, so you can look back and see what you’ve paid each month, which is especially helpful if you’re a freelancer who can write-off certain expenses.
Qapital is an easy-to-use banking app that allows you to manage your spending and save automatically for specific goals in mind. Qapital offers checking accounts with debit cards and unlimited transactions so you can access your funds easily. Whenever you make a purchase, the card rounds up the change to the nearest dollar and applies it towards one of your savings goals.
The company mandate states: “When we make saving money more intentional, it becomes more fulfilling. Which makes it more motivating. Which means people save more.”
Unlike some apps that automatically invests your money in the stock markets, Qapital stores your savings in an account that doesn’t garner any interest. But it’s an advantage is that it makes saving easy, and it automatically stops transfers when your balance falls below $100, preventing overdraft fees. Thanks to the round-up rule, your purchases will force you to save even while you’re spending money. And the unorthodox savings rules make it approachable and fun.
You can save money every time you post to social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, when adding a song to a Spotify playlist or every time you achieve your Apple HealthKit or FitBit or fitness goals. Since it’s automatic, it’s virtually painless, and you’ll be surprised by how fast your savings will increase.
13. Personal Capital
COST: FREE + Management Fees of 0.49%-0.89% (Minimum of $100,000)
Personal Capital has been awarded CNBC’s Disruptor 50 twice and rated best personal finance app by Investor Junkie. Personal Capital targets high-balance clients by combining robo-advisor algorithms with human advisors and allows users to build portfolios that appeal to their environmental, social and governance values. They also offer guidance on 401K’s so that your fund allocations will complement the rest of your investment portfolio.
There are two tiers available on Personal Capital:
A) A managed accounts service with a team of dedicated financial advisors and high fees of up to 0.89% per year, though large account balances—$1 million or more—earn discounted rates.
B) Separate from its managed accounts service, Personal Capital offers some financial and investment planning tools that are completely free. Users can link their existing accounts and track spending, net worth, portfolio performance, retirement progress and fees.
Ultimately, living without a budget is like traveling without a map. Budgeting your money will have multiple benefits for you and your family, but it’s a practice of discipline and habit. If you keep track of your income and expenditures every month, you’ll be able to manage your money more efficiently and be able to live your best life. Although there is a wide range of excellent financial apps out there, with new ones launching every year, the perfect one will always be whatever works best for you.
Schedule a free consultation today for a risk-free debt assessment. The only thing you have to lose is your debt.