No matter what situation you find yourself in, managing your personal finances can be a challenge. It is becoming increasingly difficult for many as the banking world transitions into a digitally focused environment. Fortunately, you can now take advantage of thousands of budgeting and investing apps and tools on the market.
First, let’s take a look at some benefits of using a financial planning app:
- These applications can provide a comprehensive view of all your accounts in one location.
- You are provided categorization of each transaction you make – giving you a great understanding of where your money is being spent each month.
- Finance apps make it easy and understandable to manage finances as a couple or family.
- These apps provide credit monitoring tools. Learn how to track, build and maintain your credit.
Here at Deerwood, we’re frequently asked which free finance/budgeting apps we’d recommend. Here are my top three choices.
Mint is my go-to for all things personal finance planning. Mint’s capabilities stretch well beyond what many others offer regarding budgeting, bill tracking, and credit reporting.In one dashboard view, Mint gives me a high-level overview of my finances. It gives me a snapshot of my account activity, including personal accounts (checking accounts, savings accounts), loans, investment accounts and any real estate investments that I may have. Along with a review of accounts, Mint provides me with a list of upcoming bills as well as timely reminders of when each of them is due.The budgeting side of Mint is very smooth as well. You can set your budget for mortgage/rent, groceries, transportation (gas, ridesharing, insurance), eating out, and then watch as Mint analyzes your account transactions and updates your budget progress accordingly. Based on your notification preferences, Mint will even send alerts when you’re approaching or have hit the maximum budget for that category.
The Acorns app is a great way to start investing on a daily basis. The premise of Acorns is simple: round-up your transaction and invest the spare change. If you buy a candy bar at the store for $1.50, Acorns will automatically round-up to the next dollar and invest $.50 into your investment portfolio. The genius behind Acorns is that it never really feels like you are taking money out, Acorns does it for you!Acorns is a pretty hands-off app. They want you to start saving without even realizing that money is being invested for you. Acorns wants you to check in after a month and realize – “Hey, by rounding up my transactions and investing them, I was able to set aside hundreds of dollars!” It provides investment capabilities for people who don’t have investment experience and are not looking to get too risky with their savings.
- CLARITY MONEY
In a world full of digital subscriptions, it is tough to track where and how much you are spending on your memberships. Clarity brings just that, clarity, to your subscription management. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime… there are a million different subscription-based memberships on the market and my guess is that you are partaking in more than one of them. Did you cancel that free 30-day trial of Hulu? Did your kids use your card to sign-up for an Xbox membership without your approval? Clarity will give you real-time alerts and review of ALL your current subscriptions. Simplify your memberships with Clarity.
There are a TON of finance apps available. When you find the right mix for you, these apps will not only simplify your financial picture, but they will help you save and invest with minimal effort.
My advice – Pick one of these apps and run with it. Give it a three-month trial. Dive in and pay attention to how it affects you and your financial situation. If it is working for you, great. If you are finding that it is adding to the financial headache, ditch it and try a new app. Stay flexible, give the app the attention it needs and you will reap the benefits!
***Security Notification: Always be mindful of the confidential information that you are providing to web-based applications. Deerwood Bank is in no way tied to, or an endorser of, any financial budgeting/investing application.