7 Free Apps We Actually Use to Save, Invest and Manage Our Money Every Day
A 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 some money management apps we actually use:
1. Quit Your Bank
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. Take a Commercial Break and Check Your Credit Score
If you haven’t yet cut the cord, you’re dealing with those pesky commercial breaks.
But rather than aimlessly thumbing through glam social media posts and comments, do something good for your finances and check your credit score.
Did you know you could have an error hiding in your credit report? It happens often, and it could negatively affect your credit score. Or, with all those big breaches occurring, it’s possible someone could be trying to open an account with your info.
Go ahead and take the time to check your credit score on a free app like CreditWise® from Capital One®. With CreditWise, you’ll also be able to view a free TransUnion credit report, and get personalized recommendations to help improve your score.
And, hey, you’ll be able to do all this before your favorite show comes back on.
3. Invest Your Digital Change
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.”
4. Trick Yourself Into Saving Money
OK, this one isn’t just an app, but an online bank that can help you trick yourself into saving some money. So listen up.
One way to do this is to push 10% of your paycheck into a separate, hands-off account with an online bank like Chime, which helps you automatically save every time you get paid.
That’s what Penny Hoarder media buyer Kelsey Buxton does.
“It automatically deposits 10% of my paycheck into my savings, so I make a point not to touch that, but you can transfer back and forth between accounts super easily,” she explains.
The FDIC-insured account comes with more than 24,000 fee-free ATMs, has zero overdraft fees and doesn’t require a minimum or monthly payment.
Plus, when a portion of your paycheck is automatically shuffled away to your secret stash, well… what you don’t see, you won’t miss, right?
Chime also has a feature that helps you save when you spend. It rounds up your purchases to the next dollar and puts the difference into your savings account.
5. Negotiate Your Monthly Bills
No matter what, your bills are going to keep coming. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep paying the same amount.
That’s why Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler likes Trim. It’s a little bot that lives in Facebook Messenger or your text messages, and it’ll negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other providers.
You can sign up simply with Facebook. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work.
If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you, too.
Trim takes 25% of the savings tab.
6. Optimize Your 401(k)
Got a 401(k)? You’re on the right track.
Now, you just need to make sure it’s doing what you need it to. However, tapping into that account and translating the information — or lack thereof — oftentimes proves difficult.
There’s a robo-advisor for that. It’s called Blooom, and it’s an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.
A few of us Penny Hoarders use the service. It gives you an initial 401(k) checkup for free, and you’ll get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many hidden fees, have the appropriate amount invested in stocks versus bonds, that kind of fun stuff.
Set your retirement age a little earlier, to your end goal, and Blooom can help you get there by investing more aggressively.
7. Make Saving Kind Of, Sort Of Fun
Saving and fun don’t typically mesh, but Qapital is an automated savings app that makes the process, well, fun.
First, you’ll determine what you’re saving for. It could be vacation, Christmas presents, next month’s rent, a new phone… whatever your heart desires. Then set some rules. When they’re triggered, money will transfer into your Qapital account.
For example, set your purchases to round up to the nearest dollar. Or set it so if you meet your daily step goal, you’ll bank $2.
Advertiser Disclosure: Capital One compensates us when you enroll in CreditWise using the links we provided above.