These 7 Apps Will Help You Save Money — No Matter How Tight Your Budget

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Saving money is oftentimes filed under personal finance 101.

It’s easy, they say. You’ve just got to do it! Stay focused! Quell spending temptations!

Honestly, that’s just not the case.

In the United States, only 15% of us can come up with $2,000, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of Federal Reserve survey data.

If saving money were that easy, that percentage would be a lot higher.

But here’s the thing: There are plenty of money-saving tools out there that’ll make the task way easier. Some of them will even help you grow your stash with that sweet, sweet interest.

5 Companies That Send People Money When They’re Asked Nicely

When you log into your bank account, how do your savings look? Probably not as good as you’d like.

It always seems like an uphill battle to build (and keep) a decent amount in savings. But what if your car breaks down, or you have a sudden medical bill?

Ask one of these companies to help….

We Reviewed ’Em: The 7 Best Money-Saving Apps of 2023

There are so many personal finance apps, which is great, but it can quickly become overwhelming. To help you decide what’s best for you and your financial goals, we rounded up  our favorite savings apps (in no particular order).

1. Digit: A Mindless Way to Hit Your Savings Goals

If you have trouble determining just how much money you can afford to put away each month, turn to Digit, an innovative mobile app that’ll do the work for you.

First, download the Digit app, and connect your bank account. (This is where the app will pull money from to go into savings.)

Then set up your savings goals. For example, you can set a goal of $2,000 for a rainy day fund and then $500 for a weekend getaway.

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Now, Digit will use its smart algorithms to analyze your income and spending habits to determine just how much you can afford to save. It’ll automatically pull small amounts of money (it promises no overdrafts!) into its FDIC-insured Digit account.

It’ll even send you real-time daily notifications, so your balance is never a surprise. You can pause or tap into your savings at any time — it’ll take one business day for the funds to roll back into your checking account.

Best for those who have a hard time figuring out how much they can afford to save and want to lean on automatic savings.

Cost: Free for the first 30 days, then a monthly fee of $5

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up. Additionally, you’ll receive a 1% savings bonus on your average daily balance every three months.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Read how one Penny Hoarder mindlessly saved $4,300 in our Digit review.

2. Acorns: A Virtual Piggy Bank Turned Investment Account

the Acorns app displayed on a cell phone
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If you want to dip your big toe into investing while also stockpiling money, Acorns is a micro-investing mobile app that allows just that.

Download the app, then link up your checking accounts, credit cards and/or debit cards — go wild. (This is all protected, by the way, and your investment portfolio is insured for up to $500,000.)

Now, turn on its round-up feature, and Acorns will act like a virtual piggy bank, rounding up your transactions to the nearest dollar and depositing the spare change into your Acorns account. Then it does all the heavy lifting for you.

You can even earn cash back through Acorns. For example, if you’ve wanted to sign up for Blue Apron, it’ll give you $30 to invest. Or if you book your next Airbnb through the app, you’ll snag 1.8% cash back to go toward your investments.

Best for those who are interested in investing their savings and are willing to take a little risk.

Cost: $1 a month for account balances under $1 million

Bonus: Pocket $20 when you sign up.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Check out our Acorns review, and read how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year.

3. Qapital: A Fun (Almost Addicting) Way to Save Money

If you want to, you know, spice things up while saving, look into the Qapital app.

I initially tried Qapital out back in 2016, when I’d just secured my first full-time job and was having a hard time putting any money away. It helped me sneak away $700 in about five months.

When you download the Qapital app, you’ll link up your bank account and set savings goals. Under each goal, you’ll set rules. This is where it gets fun.

For example, if you’re really excited about saving for your trip to the Bahamas, set Qapital to transfer $5 into your Qapital account each time you hit your daily step goal. Or maybe you’re always stopping by Starbucks. Tell Qapital to funnel $1 into your savings each time you go.

(Since I used Qapital, it’s evolved to offer banking and investment services, too, but I’m still keen on its core: saving.)

Best for those who like a good challenge and want turn goal-setting into a game.

Cost: $3 a month for the basic version after a 30-day free trial.

Available via iOS and Android.

4. Twine: A Simple Way for Couples to Band Together to Hit Mutual Goals

If you’re looking for a way to save toward a joint goal with your better half, you’ll want to use the Twine app.

Say you and your honey want to save for a long weekend in the Bahamas. Or maybe you’re looking to buy a home in a few years and want to save for a down payment. Whatever it is, Twine allows you both to work toward that goal.

The app offers two options: You two can save your money in a free joint account with a 1.05% variable interest rate, or you two can invest your money and potentially earn some interest. (That option costs 25 cents per $500 invested.)

To get started, you and your partner will each create Twine accounts, and link your individual bank accounts — this is how you’ll fund your savings. Then, set your goal (vacation, down payment, emergency fund, you name it) and select your monthly deposit amount.

Then, watch your savings grow together.

Best for those who want to make saving money a joint affair.

Cost: Free for saving.

Bonus: Pocket $5 when you sign up.

Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android.

5. Varo: A Savings Account That Pays More Than 20x The Average

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Julieanne Birch/Getty Images

If you’re saving some money for your future, that’s great! But if your savings are in a typical bank account, chances are your money isn’t growing as quickly as it could be.

But there’s a legitimate way to grow it a lot faster than the average person — more than 20 times faster.

It’s with a mobile banking app called Varo. The FDIC reports that the average savings account pays a paltry .24% APY*, but when you open an online checking and savings account with Varo and meet certain requirements, it will pay you 5.00% APY on a balance of up to $5,000 – more than 20 times the average savings account.** Amounts over $5,000 will still earn 3.00% APY.

Oh, and there are no monthly fees.

We know opening a new bank account isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but Varo makes it easy. You can open an account with no minimum balance, and millions of people have already signed up.

Best for those who need a separate, hands-off account to stow their money and to take advantage of compound interest.

Cost: Free

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

6. Stash: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Investing App

A phone displays Stash, a money saving app.
Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

If you’re interested in investing your savings, all you need is your phone, an app called Stash and $1 to start.

This app offers all the tools you need to turn investing into a totally passive activity.

You can opt to round-up your purchases and invest the spare change, set Stash to withdraw money on a set schedule or rely on its Smart-Stash feature, which will analyze your income and expenses to determine how much you can afford to invest.

Stash your money into more than 150 ETFs and individual stocks. Because these are micro-investments, you don’t have to invest a ton of money to get started.

Best for those who want to automate their savings stash — then invest it.

Cost: $3 to $9 per month

Bonus: The Penny Hoarder has teamed up with Stash to give you a $5 sign-up bonus after you make your first investment.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Get more information in our comprehensive Stash app review.

*Clients may incur ancillary fees, charged by Stash, its custodian or both, that are not included in the monthly Wrap-Fee.

7. Chime: An Account That’ll Do All The Hard Work For You

If you’re looking to combine a number of options on this list into one easy-to-use app, turn to Chime®.

When you sign up for Chime, you’ll gain access to an online checking and savings account.* Because they’re connected, it’s easy to transfer money back and forth.

But more than that: Whenever you make a transaction with your Chime debit card, it’ll round up your purchase automatically and dump the change into your savings. You can schedule automatic transfers into your savings account, too.

It takes all of about five minutes to open your Chime account.

Best for those who are sick of downloading new apps and simply want their fintech company to take care of the whole saving thing for them.

Cost: Free

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

We wrote even more about Chime’s saving options in our review.

Need More Help? Find Your Perfect Budgeting App

If you’re still struggling to save money, you might need to go back to the basics with a budgeting app. By setting up a budget and tracking your expenses, you’ll be able to find exactly where you’re overdoing it and how you can better achieve your financial goals.

One we suggest starting with is Clarity Money*, a free app that helps you see, organize and take control of your finances.

The way it works is simple. You just download the app, connect your existing accounts, and get ready to learn more about where your money’s disappearing to… and how to keep more of it.

Clarity Money analyzes and uses your spending history to provide budgetary insights. It’ll show you exactly how much you spend in different categories, like bars and restaurants, as a percentage of your total expenses.

But it’s not just a recap of your weekend spending with pretty graphics.

It also gives you the tools and information you need to start making better financial choices. And they’re all super-easy to use, and accessible right inside the app.

If you want more money-management tools, check out eight of the best budgeting apps, which includes everything from Mint to You Need a Budget (YNAB).

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s all for automated savings.

*Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

**Varo disclosure: APY is accurate as of Dec. 1, 2022. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open an account or obtain the stated rates. All Varo Savings Accounts begin earning the Standard Rate of 3.00% APY (Annual Percentage Yield). In order to qualify for the Elevated Savings Rate (5.00% APY on your first $5,000 of savings and 3.00% APY on the rest), you must meet these 2 requirements by the end of the last business day of the month:  (1) Receive direct deposit(s) totaling $1,000 or more; and (2) End the month with a positive balance in both your Varo Bank Account and Savings Account.  If you qualify this month, you will earn the 5.00% APY for next month. You’ll continue to earn 3.00% APY on any additional balance above $5,000.00.  If you don’t meet the requirements, you’ll still earn 3.00% APY on your entire Savings Account balance.

Deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000 through Varo Bank, N.A.; Member FDIC.

Disclosure: Clarity Money compensates us when you download the app using the links we provide.

5 Companies That Send People Money When They’re Asked Nicely

When you log into your bank account, how do your savings look? Probably not as good as you’d like. It always seems like an uphill battle to build (and keep) a decent amount in savings.

But what if your car breaks down, or you have a sudden medical bill?

Ask one of these companies to help….