Best Money Saving Apps That Keep Money in Your Wallet

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Money-saving apps are technology’s answer to a common American problem: setting aside enough cash. Although many financial advisors recommend that savers put away 10% to 20% of their paychecks, the truth is, that’s a lofty target for many Americans. Money-saving apps can help people save more in a variety of ways, from psychological motivation to automatic investing to better budgeting. When the time comes to look for new methods to help you save, these 9 apps might nudge you in the right direction.

What Are Money-Saving Apps?

Money-saving apps use the power of your smartphone to make it easier for you to save money. How much power you want to hand over to your money-saving app is up to you. These apps range from helping you invest for retirement to putting funds aside on a tight budget to saving for a specific short- or long-term goal. Overall, their purpose is to help you organize and/or improve your financial situation.

Best Money-Saving Apps for Retirement

If you enjoy technology, a money-saving app can be one of the easiest ways to save for retirement.

Make Your Money Work for You

1. Acorns

Acorns is a savings and investment app that automates the entire process for users. Although Acorns now offers three levels of accounts, the most basic “Invest” level rounds up purchases made from a linked account, debit or credit card to the nearest dollar and invests that extra amount. The other two levels of accounts are Acorns Later, which is an IRA account, and Acorns Spend, a checking account with a debit card.

Cost

  • $1 for Invest
  • $2 for Invest + Later
  • $3 for Invest + Later + Spend

Pros:

  • Rounded-up purchases make investing painless
  • IRA and checking accounts available
  • Robo-advised portfolio

Cons

  • Can be an expensive option if you have small balances invested
  • Can’t select your own investments

Best For

Acorns is best for those new to saving who want an automated savings account managed by a robo-adviser.

Where To Download the App:

2. Personal Capital

Personal Capital is one of the most comprehensive financial apps available. Users can link their bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts to see their complete financial picture in one location. The app will help analyze your investment performance, your cash flow, net worth and other financial metrics. You can hire the experts at Personal Capital to manage your portfolio for you for a fee.

Cost

  • App is free
  • Personal investment management rates run from 0.49% to 0.89% of assets

Pros

  • A comprehensive look at your complete financial picture
  • Free basic version

Cons

  • Comparatively high management fees
  • Might have to manually input some of your accounts

Best For

The free version of the Personal Capital app is a good choice for investors looking to monitor their personal financial accounts or analyze their net worth, cash flow and investment fees.

Where To Download the App:

3. Stash

The Stash app aims to unite banking, saving, investing and learning into a single experience. With as little as $5, you can start investing in a curated selection of individual stocks and ETFs, including fractional shares. The app also offers a fee-free bank account and debit card that reward you with stock when you spend. Growth and Stash+ subscription levels offer stepped-up features such as access to a retirement account, a metal debit card and two times stock rewards.

Make Your Money Work for You

Cost

  • Beginner: $1 per month
  • Growth: $3 per month
  • Stash+: $9 per month

Pros

  • Can purchase fractional shares
  • User-friendly, all-in-one interface
  • Lots of educational content

Cons

  • Costs can be high

Best For

Stash can be a good choice for beginning investors who need a slick, all-in-one app that streamlines the investment process and allows purchases of fractional shares.

Where To Download the App:

Best Money-Saving Apps for a Tight Budget

If you have a tight budget, it may seem like it’s impossible to save money, but a savings app is one of many proven ways to save.

4. Digit

Digit analyzes your actual income and expenses and determines how much you should be able to save every day. Based on your current balance, upcoming income, expenses and your recent spending, Digit will automatically move a safe amount to an FDIC insured, interest-bearing savings account, which will help you stay within your budget.

Cost

Free for 30 days, then $5 per month

Pros

Cons

  • Low 0.10% annual percentage yield, paid quarterly at 0.025%
  • No free version

Best For:

Digit is best for customers who want a comfortable amount of automated savings coming directly out of their checking accounts.

Where To Download the App:

5. Goodbudget

Being able to successfully save takes a budget. Goodbudget is one of the best available budgeting apps, but it takes budgeting a step further by transforming the traditional envelope system of budgeting into a digital version. The app works by allowing you to create digital envelopes for all of your expenses, including your savings goal, and put the designated amount of funds in each envelope up front, instead of just pulling from your collective bank balance. The budget syncs between mobile and web devices, which can be helpful for joint users. Overspending in one category results in a $0 balance in that area until it resets the following month. The upgraded Plus account allows for unlimited envelopes, five devices and seven years of history.

Cost

  • Free version
  • Plus version: $7 monthly or $60 annually

Pros

  • Easy way to budget without using physical envelopes
  • Free basic version

Cons:

  • Can’t link to financial institution to automatically track spending

Best For

Goodbudget is best for those who prefer tracking their expenses by category but prefer digital record-keeping over traditional.

Where To Download the App:

6. Empower

The Empower app has an automatic savings feature that keeps tabs on the money flowing in and out of your checking account with the goal of putting any excess cash into savings when you can afford it. Signing up for Empower also gives you access to an Empower debit card, which will allow you to receive cash advances of up to $250, which are fee-free, interest-free and have no impact on your credit.  The app pays the cash advance back upon your next direct deposit. Plus, you’ll be able to earn up to 10% cash back on purchases made with your Empower card and a 0.05% APY on the money you have on deposit.

Cost

  • $8 monthly

Pros

  • Intelligent automated savings
  • Early payday and cash advance features

Cons

  • No free version available

Best For:

People who want to be able to save automatically without worrying about going over budget and who also may need a cash advance now and then.

Where To Download the App:

Best Money-Saving Apps for Setting Specific Savings Goals

If you’re mostly interested in setting specific goals to motivate you to save, these are the apps that can help you get there.

7. Qapital

Qapital is a customizable app that lets you create savings goals and rules for how and when money is automatically transferred to your savings account. Save for goals like a rainy day fund, your next vacation or a down payment on a home. The app works by rounding up purchases and depositing the additional amount into your savings account. Qapital also has three tiers of membership. With Qapital, you can invest in pre-built portfolios, access a debit card, divvy up significant deposits and take on financial challenges known as Money Missions to help learn how to use your money more efficiently.

Cost

  • Qapital Basic, $3 per month
  • Qapital Complete, $6 per month
  • Qapital Master, $12 per month

Pros

  • Easily customizable savings parameters
  • 30-day free trial

Cons

  • Fees

Best For:

Users who want a variety of options for meeting their savings goals in a fun, easy way and don’t mind paying at least $3 per month.

Where To Download the App:

8. Peak

Peak has been named one of the best money apps by multiple sources for the features it offers, such as the ability to set up “peaks,” which are your savings goals by selecting a name, amount and due date. After you set up your peaks, you’ll be able to choose whether you want to save by using scheduled savings amounts or round-ups. You’ll also be able to easily track your progress and make adjustments on the fly.

Cost

  • Free version
  • Premium version: $5 monthly or $50 annually

Pros

  • Free option
  • Automated savings

Cons

  • Low 0.5% annual return

Best For

People who want to save without thinking about it.

Where To Download the App:

9. SmartyPig

SmartyPig is one of the best applications for setting up and saving for specific goals because that’s all the app does. Think of it as your online piggy bank. All you have to do is decide how much and how often you want to contribute toward your savings goals and SmartyPig will take care of the rest with its automation feature. Plus, you can earn up to 0.70% APY on your balance.

Cost

  • No fees

Pros

  • No fees to join, save or withdraw
  • More competitive savings rate offered than with other apps

Cons

  • Strictly for saving; no retirement or investment goals offered

Best For

People who want a simple, free solution to help them reach their savings goals.

Where To Download the App:

Best Apps That Help You Save Money

The nine apps listed above all offer effective ways to help you save and/or invest your money, and each have both strengths and weaknesses. The best app for you is the one that you will use consistently. Test drive all of the apps to see which one is the most user-friendly, intuitive and helpful for your own personal financial needs. That will be the app that will help you save the most money.

John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article.

About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, Aol, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

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