There’s a reason why people hire accountants: It’s not easy keeping your finances organized. Even for individuals, the patchwork of bills, expenses and income can make it difficult to keep tabs on your money coming in and going out. It’s enough to drive most people crazy, let alone the Type A personalities out there.
However, there’s an app — or several apps, actually — for people who feel like their finances persistently resist better organization. A variety of companies have waded into the world of digital finance to create apps that can automatically track and record your spending, set budgets and even help you pursue important financial goals, all while bringing order to the chaos. If you consider yourself Type A, take a closer look at some of the best financial apps.
One classic method of budgeting is “envelope budgeting,” wherein you set aside cash in envelopes for each budgeting category. Mvelopes takes this method and updates it for the digital age, linking your credit and debit cards and keeping your budgets and bank accounts at the tips of your fingers.
By shifting the process online, you’re maintaining budgets just like you would with an envelope budget, but the hassle of juggling dozens of different envelopes — each with specific amounts of money — is automated and easy. And, you don’t have to rely on cash to do so.
The acronym YNAB stands for “You Need a Budget,” and the app is geared toward helping those who require more guidance in the financial department. Even Type A people might have experienced stressful situations where rent or bill payments came down to the wire.
With YNAB, the goal is to assign a purpose to every dollar you earn and then ensure that the money gets routed there in advance so you don’t encounter any nasty surprises. You can carefully set and adjust your budgets so that taking care of expenses, saving for the future and paying down debt are all happening automatically.
Spendee touts itself as the app that will get your money “into shape” and offers a number of tools that can help you track and analyze your spending. The app will allow you to link accounts and set budgets to ensure you’re staying within your parameters.
You can also use Spendee’s visualization tools to find financial pain points or areas where you can be a little more frugal. And, when you don’t have time for a deep dive, there’s a simple overview function that gives you a snapshot of your money in a single screen.
In Qapital, users can tackle their finances by focusing on goals and rules. You can set goals in the app that will allow you to see what you’re saving for and set money aside over time to reach them. You can also set “rules,” such as making weekly payments for certain goals or even tying spending in a particular category to saving for a certain goal.
The app offers tools for managing and tracking your accounts, allows you to send e-checks from your phone and even gives you the option to get a Qapital debit card that’s connected to your account.
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Plenty of people want to invest, but more than 40 percent of Americans aren’t investing their money, according to a recent GOBankingRates survey. Apps like Acorns want to help make investing simple and automatic. The app allows you to open an account with as little as $5, and you can connect your credit or debit card so that every transaction is rounded up to the next dollar. The balance is directed into an investment account to start growing and collecting returns — a feature that Acorns calls “round-ups.”
In addition to helping you automate investing, the app has “Found Money,” where you can get money invested based on purchases you make with some of your favorite vendors and services.
Keeping all of your finances in one place is a big part of the appeal for Mint, which allows you to connect bank accounts, set budgets and get notifications when you go over your limit. When you connect your credit cards and debit cards, you can get a complete picture of your spending habits, including the option to create charts and graphs to better understand where your money is going.
In addition, Mint shares the same parent company as TurboTax and allows you to link the two accounts, making it easier to file your taxes and get your returns when tax season rolls around.
The Wally app is built to help the vast majority of people who aren’t accountants manage their financial lives in a simple, efficient way that they can understand. The app takes in information about your income and expenses and helps you set goals and build a budget that works for your life.
The basic version of the app is free, but there are some premium features — such as tools that allow a family to work off the same account or convert currency to the local legal tender for travelers — that cost as much as $4.99 a month. The app works in every national currency and allows you to save pictures of receipts.
One major component of any successful financial plan is likely to be investing. But getting started can be difficult — and expensive — when you factor in the various transaction costs. Enter Robinhood, an investing app that allows users to invest completely fee-free.
Simply download the app and fund your account through your bank, and you can start buying shares of stocks and ETFs without paying a penny in transaction costs, making it one of the best apps for first-time investors. Robinhood also allows you to trade options, open margin accounts and even trade cryptocurrencies.
Working as a freelancer can give you the freedom to pursue a wide variety of projects without being moored to the office or one boss. However, that comes with a variety of complications. You have to keep track of multiple jobs and different deadlines, all while carefully tracking what you owe in taxes to avoid a rude surprise come April. Fortunately, the app Tycoon offers a single platform from which you can organize your jobs, track deadlines and even put aside earnings for your taxes.
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