Money Masters: Four Apps for Money Management

If you’re trying to get out of debt or just better manage your finances, there are a slew of apps aimed at saving, budgeting and investing. Here’s a look at some of the most popular ones along with their signature features.

Important to consider before signing up for any money management app: The standard security precautions about handling personal information online apply, and be sure you’re clear about any fees or charges your bank may apply for connecting these kinds of apps.

You Need a Budget is aimed at helping users create and stick to a budget and provides flexibility for unexpected expenses. Its features include an “accountability partner” to help you stay on track, and its method is designed to “give every dollar a job.” Budget categories include the usual line items such as rent and groceries, as well as one for “stuff I forgot to budget for.” The app requires access to your accounts, and after a 34-day trial costs $6.99 a month, billed at an annual rate of $83.99. That’s a chunk of change if you’re struggling with your finances, but the creators claim new budgeters save an average of $600 in their first two months, and that its method will allow users to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Probably the best-known money management app (and one of the oldest), Mint is sort of an all-in-one app that helps track spending and manage your budget. It keeps track of bills, sends payment reminders and has a free credit score update feature. Mint’s interface has a bit of a reputation for being somewhat passive-aggressive (read: judgy) because of the wording on some of its over-budget or big purchase notifications, as well as its mild social media snark, but it continues to be one of the most popular and widely used money management apps. Since it’s automated to keep track of your spending and your budget, you need to grant Mint access to your accounts for it to function properly. Mint is free.

If you’re not sure where to begin with investing, Acorns could be the app that eases you into the process. It rounds up the purchases on a card you connect to the app and invests the extra amount into a basic portfolio designed per user instruction (aggressive, conservative, etc.). So if you spend $10.55 on an Uber trip, Acorns rounds up to $11 and takes that $0.45 and invests it. There’s a service fee if your account has less than $5,000 in it, and any electronic transfer fees are deducted from your dividend. If the account you connect to the Acorns app is in danger of being overdrawn, it will suspend activity until you make a deposit. Acorns is free.

Like most other money-management apps, PocketGuard requires you to connect the accounts you want to manage, and it helps you control your budget and expenses. What’s nice about this app is the “in your pocket” feature that lets you know exactly how much walking around money you have, by factoring any recurring payments or pending charges you may not yet see reflected in your bank balance. PocketGuard is free. 

Categories: Education