6 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 six money management apps we actually use:
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.
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 month is free. You can start investing with as little as $5, and you’ll get another $5 just for clicking this link and signing up.
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.
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.
Clink is another investment app that lets you invest in the stock market with as little as $1 a day.
Penny Hoarder contributor 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.
Need to trick yourself into saving some money? 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.
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, and it rewards you with a 10% bonus on round-ups each week, up to $500 per year.