8 Free Apps We Actually Use to Save, Invest and Manage Our Money Every Day

Updated December 5, 2016
by The Penny Hoarder
Contributor

http://t.thepennyhoarder.com/aff_c?offer_id=4256&aff_id=2A LOT of apps exist to help you manage your finances.

We know — we learn about new ones every day.

And we know you don’t really have time to sift through the App Store and compare them all to find just the right one.

So we decided to save you a little time and tell you which money management apps we actually use. They might not all be perfect for you, but at least you know these have been put to the test.

We reached out around The Penny Hoarder office to learn some of our staff members’ favorite apps and why they use them.

Here are eight money management apps we actually use:

1. Aspiration

Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account is an online-only bank account with no fees, no minimum balance, no minimum monthly deposit, and an interest rate that is 100 times what a normal bank will pay you.

Staff writer Dana Sitar travels the U.S. often and moves frequently. She needed a bank that could move with her, but wouldn’t cost a lot to maintain.

“I don’t need much from my bank,” she says. “I’m not applying for loans, traveling internationally or even writing checks, so I don’t want to pay extra for services I won’t use.”

She uses it as a second bank account to help build savings. With automatic deposits from her paycheck, Sitar saves $400 a month — enough for two round-trip flights home for the holidays!

Plus, the bank reimburses 100% of ATM fees, so she can withdraw money anywhere. No more outrageous fees or wandering around a new town in search of an in-network ATM. Aspiration’s Mastercard debit card and a mobile app make it easy to manage from anywhere, too.

“The modern interface [of the app] makes banking intuitive (can you imagine?!),” she explains. “And the company is not only good at what it does; it’s also fun and socially responsible.”

She adds, “On top of the benefits of the Summit account, I’m actually impressed with Aspiration as a company. This isn’t a traditional bank; it’s a California startup with a jovial personality that’s sorely lacking in the financial space.”

To get started, open your account here.

2. Stash

Stash is an app for Android and iOS that makes it easy to start investing, even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash.

Staff writer Jamie Cattanach says Stash even explains investing in terms you can understand “without re-enrolling in Economics 101.”

Cattanach set up the app to automatically pull $5 a week from her bank account to invest and build her emergency fund.

“I was thrilled to find a way to finally start investing, and then automate it so I didn’t have to think about it,” she says.

Instead of overwhelming you with industry jargon, she says Stash curates and categorizes funds to help you meet your needs. Plus, “It gives them understandable names that actually mean something to people like you and me.”

Stash charges $1 a month, but your first three months are free. You can start investing with as little as $5, and you’ll get another $5 just for signing up.

3. Clink

Clink is another investment app that lets you invest in the stock market with as little as $1 a day.

Senior writer Susan Shain says her money used to sit in a bank savings account, barely collecting interest and costing her a monthly fee.

“(I was) just hoping some investment fairy would come and show me the magical ways of stocks and index funds and compound interest,” she explains.

She found Clink and was happy with how easy the app was to use. “It didn’t require me to get my master’s in finance to understand the terms, or give up my firstborn to pay the fees.”

The smallest amount you can invest is $1 a day, which Clink automatically withdraws from your checking account. You can also choose to invest larger amounts on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis

Or, you can link your credit card, and have Clink invest a percentage of what you spend — so you can make sure you’re balancing your spending habits with smart savings!

Clink charges $1 a month, but also offers a $5 signup bonus — that’s like getting five months for free.

To get started, download the app here.

4. Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame gives you a free credit report card — including a credit score — and provides you with recommendations and financial education resources.

Sitar used the app to discover her credit score was a meager 528. She wasn’t surprised at the number, but how clearly Credit Sesame shared the information, she says, is “a pretty swift kick in the pants.”

The app showed her a quick view of her total debt, plus all the factors contributing to her low score: credit usage, age and inquiries, account mix and payment history.

Her favorite part about Credit Sesame is the personalization. It offers concrete steps, based on her situation, to focus on her credit score.

“Most of us with poor credit probably aren’t financial geniuses,” Sitar says. “It’s incredibly relieving to find a service that can actually help me break down this overwhelming information.”

You can sign up and download the app here.

5. Acorns

Acorns is a simple savings and investment app that rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change.

You can connect the app to your credit or debit card and let it automatically round up all your transactions, or manually round up only the transactions you choose.

Contributor CJ Reid does the latter, accepting round ups of less than $0.50, “like my $3.60 cup of coffee.”

“Rounding up 40 cents here and 25 cents there moves me swiftly enough to $5 so that I can begin investing without putting myself into the red,” she says.

Once your round ups reach $5, that amount will be transferred from your bank to your Acorns account, and invested into your chosen portfolio.

“Acorns makes it easy to invest by removing the responsibility of choosing individual investments or worrying about trades,” Reid explains. “You don’t need any previous investment knowledge or history.”

And once you get the process automated, Acorns investments make your digital change work for you.

“With a conservative portfolio,” Reid says, “I turned $15 into $19 within a few weeks.”

You can sign up and download the app here.

6. Digit

Digit is a smart savings app that reviews how much money you have in your checking account and automatically sets aside an amount you can afford to save.

Shain was looking for a solution to help her build an emergency fund, but it needed to meet some conditions:

“(It would need to) be automatic, otherwise I’d never do it, and live in a separate account, otherwise I’d probably blow it — in the best way possible — on traveling,” says our resident travel junkie.

In just under a year, she saved $1,774.88 using the app.

“I couldn’t be happier with my Digit experience so far,” Shain says. “I mean, how could I not be? I have nearly two grand in my account.”

Digit automatically adjusts how much it pulls from your account, depending on how much is available. If your income goes down, you won’t be committed to an automatic transfer that could overdraw your account.

Digit even covers overdraft fees caused by its withdrawals, so you’re safe if this ever happens (and you know the company works hard to prevent it from happening).

Get started with Digit here.

7. Squeeze

Squeeze is a seamless way to track and categorize finances, reduce bills and save money.

This newly-launched app analyzes your spending habits and provides comparison pricing on your recurring bills. So you’ll see whether you could be spending less on your cell phone, TV, internet and other bills.

We’re all new to the app, but we’re pretty excited to use it to boost our budgets!

Once you create an account, you can choose from actions: “squeeze,” “advice” or “my money.”

“Squeeze” allows you to quickly find the best deal on things like internet, cell phone and video streaming services.

Under My Money, you’ll add accounts, and the app will give you insight on your spending habits. Under Advice, you’ll find articles on everything from student loans to mortgages to budgeting.

Download the app for iOS here, or sign up here to be notified when it’s available for other platforms.

8. Mint

Mint is a money-management app that gets all your financial information in one place.

Shain uses Mint to manage her budget and says, “I love Mint because it automatically updates with current information from all my financial accounts: banks, retirement and credit cards.”

She can connect any accounts she wants to track, and Mint provides an easy-to-read overview. She can even see her spending broken down by category — a pie usually dominated by flights!

“It’s a one-stop shop where I can see everything from how much I’ve spent in a month to how my retirement investments are faring.

“My favorite part are the savings goals, where I can see how much progress I’ve made toward different goals like travel, a new computer, etc.,” she says. “It’s the easiest and most comprehensive way I’ve found to keep track of what’s coming in and what’s going out.”

Get started with Mint here.

Your Turn: What are your favorite budgeting and money-management apps?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

by The Penny Hoarder
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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