It’s always entertaining to find a new list of things. Yesterday we ran across a list of the best books of each decade since the 1950s. We had not seen this list before and have kept it for future reference. We were pleased to discover that we had actually read some of the books on the list. Of course, virtually all of these lists, including this one, are highly subjective. If you queried several other experts as to the best books of the 1950s and 1960s they’d probably come up with different lists than those we found yesterday.
The second list we found recently was a list of the five apps you can use to keep your finances under control. This list, too, was probably a bit subjective but it’s hard to argue with the apps it selected. For example, one of them was the app Mint. We analyzed it very thoroughly several weeks ago on the site NationalDebtRelief.com (see posts for 6/13 and 6/17) and learned it’s a sort of the Swiss Army knife of financial apps. While there are literally dozens of apps available to help you manage your money, here is what one publication felt were the five best by category.
Top app for tracking your spending
One of the most important things you can do is learn to live below your means. To do this you must understand your spending or where your money goes. The app Wally will not only track your spending it will encourage you to think about the “why” a purchase was worth its cost. You use Wally to scan your receipts and it lets you add notes explaining them. Wally will then give you a comprehensive picture of you’re spending including those days when you got out your wallet more frequently than other days and those categories where you spent the most money. In comparison with several other personal financial apps this one doesn’t require you to link to your bank account, which provides an additional amount of security. Wally is free for both Android and iOS users.
Top budgeting app
Number one in the category for budgeting was, no surprise here, Mint. If you read our analysis of this app, you’ll find it’s a bit difficult to get started with as you will need to link it to your bank accounts, after which Mint will give you a complete picture of your finances including the amount of money you have in each of your accounts as well as the amount of your debts. Mint will create a budget for you based on what you have been spending by category such as food, clothing and entertainment, and will then send you an alert if you exceed the budged amount in any of them. As a nice little bonus, Mint will also show you your credit score inside the app for free. Like Wally, Mint is free for both Android and iOS users.
Top app for using your credit cards
If you link the app Wallaby to your accounts, it will keep track of your credit card spending and then let you know if you’re spending too much or if there has been dubious activity on your account. However, the real power of this app is that it will let you know which card is best for you to use in a given store based on the rewards you could earn or the possibility of minimizing your interest charges. If you would prefer to not link this app to your accounts, you don’t have to. All you would need to do instead is identify the types of cards you’re using and Wallaby will tell you which one to use. This app, too, is free to users of both iOS and Android.
Top app for saving money
It would be hard to argue that Mint isn’t the best app for budgeting and it would be equally difficult to argue that Digit is not the top app for saving money. The way this app works is that it helps you save without requiring you to think about it. You connect Digit to your bank account and it will then analyze your spending habits. Every few days, Digit will take a small amount of money out of your checking account based on how much it thinks you can afford and then put it into a Digit savings account. Whenever you want to withdraw money from your Digit savings account you can take as much money as you wish. While Digit is free for iOS users it is not yet available for people on Android. However, if you’re an Android user you can put your name on a waitlist and will be automatically notified when that version is released.
Top investment app
If you think you need to have a lot of money to be an investor, think again. The app Acorns is great for inexperienced investors who don’t a lot of money to invest. You create an account in Acorns and link it to your bank account. Acorns will then select for you the best investment portfolio based on the health of your finances. You can get started by investing as little as five dollars and then continue to invest either manually or let the app invest your spare change for you. As an example of how this works, let’s suppose you spent $4.25 on a cup of coffee. Acorns will then invest $.75.
It costs nothing to download Acorns for either iOS or Android users but it does charge fees though they are dramatically lower than what you would pay a traditional broker. If you have a portfolio less than $5000, it will cost you one dollar a month. If your portfolio is larger than $5000, Acorns’ fee is 0.25% of it per year.