Saving and Investment Apps That Help You Save Money

FT Contributor  | 

Saving and investing can sound very intimidating, especially for people who are looking to save money on a tight budget. However, there are many apps made specifically to provide users with an array of financial planning and saving options. Whether you’re looking for the best savings app, some guidance in the world of financial planning, or both, there are a number of apps out there that can help.

Here, you’ll learn more about some of the best money-saving apps that can help you increase your savings, as well as the best investment apps that simplify planning for your financial future.

Acorns

This money app is a micro-savings and micro-investing app that rounds up money you spend for use in Exchange Traded Funds. You can choose to have your money moved to one of three accounts: Acorns Core (investing), Acorns Later (retirement) or Acorns Spend (checking). Using a linked debit or credit card, change left from your purchases will be used to make investments and converted into Found Money. Acorns also provides helpful information from financial experts so that you can make smart money-saving decisions.  

Pros

There are many advantages to using investment apps like Acorns. The more you spend, the more you save (or invest). If you don’t have a checking account, opening an Acorns Spend account adds a checking account into your experience, allowing you the ability to effortlessly save and invest. If you are a college student, Acorns is free to use, which means you can start building your savings and investment portfolio while you’re still in school.

Cons

While there aren’t many, using Acorns does present a few cons. There are high fees on small accounts (a fee of $12 a year is charged on accounts with a balance as low as $100). Another con of the Acorns money app is that their customer service is limited to email. There is no phone number to contact, so if you need assistance, you have to wait for an email reply.

Chime

Chime is one of the most popular money saving apps that offers a low-fee, 100% digital banking experience. The app was developed based on the idea that people rarely carry physical cash anymore. Instead, they’re using credit and debit cards to pay for purchases. This mobile banking app offers an option to automatically transfer 10% of your paychecks into a savings account.

Pros

In addition to ease of use, Chime comes with a bundle of other pros. If you still need (or prefer) the use of paper checks, Chime Checkbook allows you to create and mail physical checks directly through the app. The in-app savings features help you save extra money quickly and easily.

Cons

One of the downsides to using Chime is that you can’t open a joint account, which can make financing difficult for couples. Additionally, Chime’s saving rate isn’t all that impressive. While you’re encouraged to spend more so that you can “save more, ” Chime’s current offering is only 0.01% APY on savings accounts. Finally, while you do have the ability to produce physical checks from this “neobank,” you’re limited to checks $5,000 or less.

Digit

Digit is a money app that assesses your budget, determines how much you are capable of saving, and puts the money aside for you. Digit makes saving money an autonomous process.

Pros

Digit offers a number of pros. Saving is as easy as sending a text message. Digit makes setting and reaching your savings goals simple, allowing you to take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your finances. Plus, if you encourage your friends and family to sign up for Digit, you’ll get $5 for each referral.

Cons

The downside of using Digit is that it comes with a fee of $2 a month. In addition, you cannot make deposits or withdraws online, and the money you put into savings earns very little in interest, making it difficult to save money for larger purchases. In addition, there isn’t a good explanation as to how the app determines the amount of money transferred into your account, which can make it difficult for you to maintain control of your finances.

Mint

Mint is an app that is free to download and use. This money app provides bill payment notifications and budgeting services, consolidating all of your financial information into one place that’s easily digestible.

Pros

Mint is free to use and offers a free breakdown of your credit score. You also get bill alerts so that you can keep track of your finances and avoid late fees. All of your financial information is easily viewable on their interface and doesn’t require multiple logins.

Cons

The most common issue people have with Mint is that all of your banking and billing information is required to use the app, which some people aren’t comfortable sharing. Mint users have occasionally experienced synchronization issues, which can take a long time to resolve. Additionally, because the app is free to use, subscribers will occasionally see ads, which aren’t always targeted accurately.

Qapital 

Unlike investment apps like Acorns, Qapital is one of the apps that help you to save money as opposed to investing it. This app allows users to make their savings goals a game. After linking your checking account, you can set goals (things you’re trying to save for) and determine rules that will trigger when certain transactions are made.

Pros

Pros of using the Qapital app include that it makes saving an automatic process, whether you set a rule that says to save every time you tweet or every time you check into the gym. Additionally, there’s no fee associated with transferring money into your checking account, so you get every penny of the money you earn. You can link a number of cards to your account, creating more opportunities for you to save, and users love the failsafe mechanism that helps you avoid overdrafts.

Cons

Cons of the Qapital app include that it can take as long as 10 days to start seeing your savings because the app has to work with third parties to ensure money is coming from the appropriate channels. Similarly, you can only earn interest on spending accounts — savings accounts are interest-free. Like Digit, you can only access Qapital on a smartphone.

Robinhood

Robinhood provides a platform for people to engage in low-risk stock trading. Users can trade stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrency without paying commissions or fees.

Pros

The pros to using Robinhood include that there are no commissions on stock tracks and no account minimums. The streamlined interface makes the app easy to use from anywhere.

Cons

Unfortunately, Robinhood doesn’t offer retirement accounts, mutual funds, or bonds. Like Acorns, Robinhood’s customer support is extremely limited as well.

Tip Yourself

Tip Yourself is essentially the opposite of the Bad Habits Jar Challenge — you give yourself monetary rewards as positive reinforcement for good habits. The app offers a free way to develop positive habits and save money at the same time.

Pros

The pros to using Tip Yourself is that it’s free and it focuses on motivating you with positive rewards. It makes saving money like a game.

Cons

One of the drawbacks of Tip Yourself is that you can’t earn interest on the money that you save, so your funds might be better off in a traditional institution. Also, it can take up to three days to transfer those funds into your personal bank account.


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