8 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.
Free Money Management Apps Penny Hoarders Love
Here are some money management apps we actually use:
1. Credit Sesame: Check Your Credit Report During the Commercial Break
One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.
To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.
Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?
Your credit report will give you this information.
You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
Once you know what’s in your credit history, Credit Sesame shares personalized resources and recommendations so you can figure out how to fix it.
2. Acorns: 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.”
3. Trim: 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.
4. Blooom: 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.
There’s a robo-advisor for that. 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. Debitize: Make Your Credit Card Payments on Time
Next time you’re at the checkout counter to make a purchase, you could use either a credit card or a debit card. Either choice has pros and cons.
Many credit cards offer perks, such as cash back or travel rewards, but they also make it easy to rack up debt. If you don’t pay off your balance every month, you’ll wind up paying a lot of interest. And if you miss a payment, there are late fees.
Debit cards don’t usually offer cool rewards, but they won’t get you mired in debt either. It’s pay-as-you-go spending. The debit card is linked to your checking account, and you can’t spend money you don’t have.
Wouldn’t it be great to combine the best of both worlds? Now you can.
A new app called Debitize basically turns your credit card into a debit card — for free. With it, you can connect any credit card to a checking account.
Whenever you swipe your credit card, Debitize pulls the same amount of cash from your bank account. It stores the cash for you until it’s time to pay your credit card bill. Then it pays that bill for you a week before the due date.
The best of both worlds: You can build credit and get those sweet credit card perks and also prevent yourself from running up unmanageable debt.
6. Stash: Start Investing Today
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 Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. (The first month is free.)
Stash 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 fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus to get started!
7. Digit: 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 its algorithms 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, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.
Digit is free to use for the first 100 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
8. Chime: Trick Yourself Into Saving Money
OK, this one isn’t just an app, but an online bank account 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 says.
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 debit card purchases to the next dollar and puts the difference into your savings account.