Americans everywhere are struggling to save money, with almost 70% reporting they have less than $1,000 in savings. Almost half of those (34%) don’t have any savings at all and are just one unexpected bill away from disaster.
Contactless payments, credit cards and payment platforms such as PayPal can remove the pain from spending, making it easier than ever to spend money and wind up in personal debt. Even our mobile phones aren’t safe – platforms such as Apple Pay mean we don’t even need our wallets to spend money anymore.
For most individuals, this lack of savings is not sustainable. We all need to save money for the future, whether it’s for retirement, buying our own house or just saving up for that dream holiday.
With the right app, your phone can also help you reach your savings goals. Mobile apps that encourage saving are effective because they’re always with you, which makes it easier to build up a regular savings habit.
We’ve selected five high-quality apps you might want to try.
Available on iPhone and Android, Monzo combines a mobile phone app with a prepaid MasterCard® to offer an alternative way to bank. Since the app is linked to the card, your balance is updated in real-time; there’s no more waiting for your bank account to show how much money you really have.
Additionally, because it uses a prepaid card, Monzo only lets you spend money you have. The limited spending and clear budgeting features make this an ideal app for anyone who wants to get their expenses under control.
Monzo is expanding fast, and future features likely include a free current account, direct debits, standing orders and overdrafts.
You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is an award-winning budgeting program that helps you take control of your money, reduce unnecessary spending and meet your savings targets. The YNAB app comes as a companion to the YNAB software, which costs $50 per year. Although this seems steep in comparison to other apps, YNAB boldly claims that the average budgeter will save $200 in their first month alone; it offers a no-questions-asked refund if you’re not satisfied.
When you’re forced to account for every payment you make, you’ll have full visibility into your finances – and it’s not always pretty! Ever wanted to know exactly how much you’re spending on takeout coffee per year? YNAB can tell you.
Qapital is a nifty app that lets you set goals and rules that automatically trigger payments into the account attached to the app. For example, you might want to set up a rule that ‘taxes’ you every time you buy one of your favorite drinks from your local coffee shop. After you buy the drink, your chosen rule automatically transfers a pre-defined amount into your savings account.
You can set spending caps for particular shops (and pay in money when you stay below budget); you can also set a rule that rounds up payments and saves the extra. Qapital reports that the average user saves $44 every month from rounding alone.
If you’re happy to get slightly more technical, just pair Qapital with IFTTT (If This Then That). This combination lets you save by tweeting with a specific hashtag, hitting your Fitbit goal and much more. The flexibility of Qapital means that almost anyone can find a savings method that suits them. Qapital is free with no fees – they make their money by collecting interest on the savings they hold, just like any other bank.
The Digit app aims to help you save money without having to think about it. Digit connects to your bank account, using an algorithm to analyze your spending habits and identify money you can afford to save. It then automatically withdraws that money to your Digit account.
Digit developers are confident in their system, so much so that if you become overdrawn due to payments, they’ll pay you the overdraft fee themselves. Additionally, your money is held in an easy-access bank account. Whenever you need access to your savings, you can text Digit to make a withdrawal.
Withdrawals are free and unlimited; the only cost to you is a $2.99/month fee for the service. Also, there’s a 100-day trial to get started. Once you’ve saved for three months, you’ll receive a 1% annualized savings bonus.
Acorns is a popular micro-investment app with more than one million users. You connect your accounts and cards to your Acorn account and then spend as normal. Acorn rounds up all your purchases to the nearest dollar, investing the extra in your portfolio.
Acorns will invest your money in a diversified portfolio containing more than 7,000 stocks and bonds. Investors can choose from five different portfolios ranging from conservative to aggressive, according to their attitude to risk. Acorns charges $1 per month (free for college students) plus a 0.25% fee on accounts above $5,000.
Do you use an app to help you save money? Which one do you prefer? Share with other readers below!
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