11 Free Apps We’ve Put to the Test 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’ve actually tried out. They might not all be perfect for you, but at least you know these have been put to the test.
Money Management Apps Penny Hoarders Love
Here are some money management apps we’ve tried — and love:
1. Get a Free Assistant to Negotiate Your Bills
On the phone with your cell phone or internet provider, trying to haggle a lower monthly bill?
Go ahead and hang up. (We know you’re probably listening to crappy music while sitting on hold, anyway.)
Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.
After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill negotiation and outage protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know an outage occurred.
On average, Truebill customers get $12 in credits off their cable bills each month.
The app will also remind you of all those sneaky subscriptions you’ve signed up for through the years, so you can cancel what you don’t use and reclaim your monthly budget.
Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.
2. Get Your Paycheck up to 2 Days Early
Want to get a jump on payday? Let Chime be your secret weapon.
Unlike most banks, this online bank won’t wait until your pay date to get your money. As soon as it receives notification of a direct deposit from your employer, it immediately posts those funds to your account — up to two days before payday!
3. Take the Stress out of Saving
Saving money is tough. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?
Digit makes that possible.
This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and it will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, Penny Hoarder Matt Wiley saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
4. Let This App 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 deciphering the information — or lack thereof — can be hard.
Now you can access a virtual guide for that online. Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm, will optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.
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.
After that, the tool is $10 a month to use to continue to monitor your retirement account. Let Blooom know your target retirement age, and it can help you get there by investing more or less aggressively.
5. Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
6. Invest Your Spare Change
It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.
Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.
But these apps are different.
If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.
You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account. Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
Acorns is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
The Stash app curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money — but it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it.
You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to give you an extra $5 after your first investment.
7. Play the Slots — and Bank $5 for Your Savings Account
Are you more of the “sit at home and play video games” type of person but you’re making yourself read this because you’re determined to get this adulting thing down?
The folks who created Long Game have you covered with a game that’s fun and helps you achieve your financial goals.
As you save and accomplish missions you’ll earn coins to play mini games for cash prizes! We’re talking the classics, like slot machines, scratch-offs and spin-to-win wheels.
Penny Hoarder Carson Kohler uses Long Game to save money. Every two weeks, it sneaks $5 out of her bank account and rewards her with coins.
In two months, she’s saved $35.70, just by playing games on her phone. Plus, her winnings amount to a gain of about 2% — way higher than interest on any other savings account she has.
Once you link your bank account, you’ll earn 300 coins, so you can start playing while you wait for payday.
8. Get a Cute Financial Assistant to Help You Save Money
A personal finance assistant would be nice… and a cute one would be even better, huh? *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*
Meet Charlie. He’s a money-saving penguin. Unfortunately, he’s not here to bring delight to your household with belly flops and fin hugs. Rather, he lives in your SMS text messages or Facebook Messenger (your choice, though Charlie is more fun and reliable on Messenger).
He’s not only cute. He’s also going to help you save money. Charlie offers help with a little bit of everything, including:
- Finding you free money by making sure you’re getting the best deals around (ahem, overpaying $24 a month on that cell phone bill?).
- Helping you avoid unnecessary extra charges by reminding you when you have a bill due.
- Tracking your spending, so you can see that, hey, maybe you need to hold back from eating out so much (but Charlie won’t judge either way!).
- Reminding you when it’s time to save and how much you can afford to put away.
Getting acquainted with Charlie is easy. When you click “get started” on its homepage, you can opt into chatting via text or Facebook Messenger, and follow his prompts. You’ll connect your bank account or credit card (or both) so he can get to work.
Oh, and he’s free! Thanks, little dude.
9. Protect Your Credit Score
Your credit score is important. The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.
Even if you’re not buying a house anytime soon, a lousy credit score means you’ll get hit with a high security deposit whenever you rent a car or move into a new apartment.
But did you know your credit score could be inaccurate? One out of five credit reports have an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.
To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it.
Because it simplifies everything, you should be able to spot any errors. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card that you know you paid, or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score.
10. Lower Your Interest Rates
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. If your credit score is at least 620, its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
11. See How Your Finances Stack up to Your Peers
We’ve been taught to focus on ourselves, and that’s great. But sometimes it helps to zoom out and see what’s happening around you, especially when it comes to personal finance.
Two data scientists are hoping to make that easier through a service called Status.
When you sign up for Status, you’ll be able to compare your financial choices with your peers’ (anonymously). You can compare everything — from your spending and income to your debts and investments. Even check out how your net worth and credit score compare.
By doing that, you’ll be able to see, for example, whether you’re paying an insane interest rate on a loan, earning way below average or spending a little too much.
In about three minutes, you’ll be able to start crunching numbers to see where you’re killin’ it — or where you need to take some time to improve.