5 Financial accounts I swear by
If you’re anything like me, you probably want to save money. While not always feasible depending on your circumstances (read: stretched thin paycheck), I’ve found apps that work with my lifestyle.
I’ve learned over the years that saving money is not a quick or easy feat. You need calculations and time and processes, plus many more variables. It can seem very daunting so, sometimes, you don’t even try. You throw it in the suck it bucket and move on with your life thinking that your after work to-go order won’t break the bank until you realize it’s your third time this week and you’ve already spent about $30 on fast food. Add to the fact when you have perfectly good food at home that’s already made and ready, you just don’t want to eat chicken again.
I know it can be hard and frustrating. I’m the last person to say it isn’t. I tend to impulse buy and emotionally eat whether I venture into a store to get my step count in or am running around doing errands and grab a bite because I think I’ll be too tired when I get home. I know it’s a problem.
And it sucks.
I’ve had a goal of debt free living for a long time. I have accomplished it with easy fixes before, just to return back to where I started because I didn’t fix the root of the problem.
I might have been fixing my debt problem, but I wasn’t fixing my spending problem.
I always went back to spending more than I had. I know some people don’t have the luxury to cut expenses when they are already barely making it. If you’re unaware of where your money is going every month, here are a few apps that I use to keep track or improve my financial situation.
Twine helps me by keeping an emergency fund. That’s all I tend to use it for. It’s maybe a $1 a month. You can use it as an emergency fund, savings fund for your next trip, or an investment account. You can also add goals, so if you reach your emergency fund goal, you can set up another for your dream home.
The app takes money directly out of your checking account on a regular basis, usually once a week, from your monthly goal. You can make contributions as low as $10 a month, but they will divide that up into weekly, not monthly, payments. You don’t have to do anything active except the 5 minutes it will take to set up your account.
While I haven’t started an investing portfolio with Twine, they do have that option available. It would be similar to their savings account, in the sense that it would invest a set amount each week directly from your checking account.
For those of you saving to start a business, this is a great way to start. Twine will be able to keep track of your goal amount without having to think much about it.
Twine’s interface is easy to use and easy to read. You can find all of your information easily and make any transactions at the click of a button. They will send you monthly emails regarding your balance and portfolio investments.
Twine even tells you a time frame for your goal. So if you want $3,000 in your emergency account, and you put a contribution of $100 a month, it will give you a month and year for when you should reach that goal.
Albert is probably one of the most versatile apps that I use. It will track your credit score, spending habits, let you prepare goals, and calculate your financial well being. My insurance policies, brokerage accounts, retirement, income, loans, and credit are all in one place to give me an overview of my well being.
Albert would be a great app to connect business accounts with. If your trying to see if you have the money to outsource or add a new hire to your business, Albert will be able to tell you how much money you have in the bank and how much you are spending on a month-to-month basis.
I enjoy looking at my finances through Albert because it offers a lot of different options. I can see how I can improve my credit score, how many times I’ve been to particular restaurants, and any extra spending I might have done that’s outside of my usual routine.
It might take a few days for things to update, so still keep an eye on your accounts, but it lets you have a pretty good estimate. As far as funds, it also predicts your recurring paychecks, especially if you have a somewhat consistent paycheck. If you have any outlying income sources, such as tax refunds, freelance projects, etc., you might have to independently update that source but the app should read the deposit as income on its own.
The same recurring function applies to bills as well. Albert notes recurring payments, rent, bills and more for you to check what amount of spending money you will have access to throughout the month. The income and bills feature is especially helpful when looking at your overview of your finances.
Albert also lets me receive notifications when I’ve overspent for the month. Sometimes overspending will happen, whether that’s fixing the car, an unexpected vet bill or even a recurring payment that slipped your mind. But Albert is there to make it as easy as possible to avoid those occurrences.
I started using Mint before I used Albert, so both programs are helpful. Mint, compared to Albert, is completely free but does not help you save money for particular goals that you might have like Albert does.
Mint helps you monitor your spending, credit score, loans and brokerage accounts. I like using it for readability and considering how user friendly it is. Its interface is not predictive so it will only keep track of what you have currently spent and earned throughout the month.
You can, however, put predictions for your spending habits. Let’s say I have an insurance bill that comes through every month and is relatively consistent in its price point. I can go into the app and budget that amount for my insurance every month. Mint basically does any budgeting from the back end of things rather than the front, like Albert.
I especially like Mint’s credit score tracker. The tracker goes through TransUnion, so it’s only one of your three credit score reports. Although, the thing I like here is that it’s easy to read and tells you multiple aspects concerning your credit. It tells you on the opening page of mint and lets you look further into the app to see what is affecting your score. It also helps with tips and suggestions about each area that could be a concern.
I do feel as though Mint relies heavily on list formatting but it’s still really great on helping you establish healthy and effective spending habits.
Credit Sesame is my favorite go-to app for credit monitoring. This shouldn’t be your only app that tracks your credit, but it does help solely monitor your TransUnion accounts.
Keep in mind, you have three credit scores to keep tabs on. TransUnion, FICO, and Experian are the credit score trackers. Each one will be different, but usually within a pretty close margin. It usually depends on which credit cards you have in your arsenal and how much debt you have on those cards.
The app takes a monthly inquiry into your credit accounts to establish a credit score. It will also track any credit checks against your name. This means that if you apply for a job or rent a new apartment, these checks will also be noted on your account, despite those inquiries not affecting your score.
Credit Sesame also gives you advice concerning your cards. It will dissect each card to show the percentage use, age, late payments, etc. to give you an overall reading. I like how it gives you a breakdown and grade for each line of credit you have open.
The app also looks into loans that you have taken out and what or which own might improve your credit score. Each loan can impact your score so the app goes through which ones might be helpful for you to look into if you have the ability to procure one. If you are looking for a personal loan to refinance your credit, you might look into some of their options and see if it’s right for you. The same goes for any business loans that you might be looking into.
Credit Sesame gives you so many tips, as well as suggestions on what cards you can procure. Most of the cards are through larger banks, such as Wells Fargo, Capital One or Discover, but the cards show how favorable the odds are of you could be approved and for how much. If you feel as though you are drowning in debt, I wouldn’t suggest getting a new card, but if you are looking at increasing your credit limit, it might positively affect your score. Try consulting a bank or someone you trust about acquiring a card to discuss any pros or cons concerning credit cards.
(If you use any of my links to Acorns, it gives you $5 to start out! Start your investment today!)
Compared to the other apps on this list, Acorns is an investment account. You can build a portfolio account to fit your needs and at your pace.
There are a few reasons I chose Acorns compared to other accounts. I knew I didn’t know much about investing so I wanted to start small, both concerning the amount that I invested and the amount that I put in it on a regular basis. You can put in as little as $5 a week.
Also, based on the account you link for deposits, you have the option of rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and investing cents on the dollar. Acorns will deposit your round-ups when you hit a threshold of $5 or more.
The app also pairs with everyday retailers and services, so, if you are a regular shopper or have a singular purchase, it will connect you with “found money,” meaning it will invest a set amount or percentage of your purchase into your Acorns account. I was able to invest almost $40 when I used the 1.5% investment from purchasing my Apple products through the app.
Acorns allows you to choose what and how you would like to invest, meaning no matter whether you invest at a high or low risk and how much you want to pay per month, you can determine how risky your investments become. Once you set up your profile, the app suggests portfolios that match with your goals and resources. It takes you through the steps of what you would like to do at the initial set up and then it automates most of the rest.
Personally, not having a lot of knowledge about stocks, I chose a medium risk portfolio and only turned on the round-up function on the app. Each option leads you closer to your goals that you set out in the app and what you want from your portfolio.
Whether you’re saving, investing, or just trying to figure out your expenses, these apps help with a lot of the heavy lifting and give you options based on your circumstances.
If you have any other apps that you are a fan of, let me know! I’d love to check them out and offer the most collaborative list for anyone looking to get their finances on track.