4 Must Haves: Personal Finance Apps (Guest Post)

There’s a first time for almost everything.  And that even includes guests posts on this blog!  Recently Money Done Right reached out and pitched a few ideas for a guest post to Freedom 33.  Because we all know how much I believe in the power of tracking (I decided I need to gain a better water-drinking habit and started tracking daily intake, which led to me drinking an average of almost 4.5L over the last week!), we eventually settled on the topic of personal finance apps.

Not only do I understand the power of tracking our progress – I’ve gotten a handle on my diet, finances, water consumption, driving habits and once upon a time quit smoking this way – but I am always on the lookout for ways to improve the process.  I have used Mint for a long time to track my finances, but ultimately still turn to my own spreadsheet as it serves me exactly how I want to be served, and I still haven’t managed to fully bend Mint to my will.  

Nevertheless, I am excited to hear about other options that may save me some time and allow me to finally move away from my clunky (but effective) Google Sheets spreadsheet method of tracking my finances.

It can be confusing and overwhelming to start monitoring your money more closely, but there are more tools than ever to help you understand and manage your finances. You can find effective mobile apps to cover a variety of elements of personal finance.

This article will identify four of the most powerful personal finance apps currently available. These are great places to start for anyone new to budgeting. Mobile apps make personal finance more convenient and help you stick to your financial goals.

Mint

Mint is one of the most well-known budgeting apps, and it’s easy to see why so many people use it. Mint was developed by the business that created TurboTax and QuickBooks, and it streamlined nearly every aspect of budgeting. It’s currently available for both iOS and Android devices, and it’s entirely free to use.

Once you download Mint and connect your accounts, the app will automatically import new transactions and categorize them based on your parameters. This gives you real-time information about your spending and saving habits and makes it easy to adjust your financial strategies. You can even manually input cash transactions to include them in your digital budget.

If you have trouble managing your bills and keeping track of different accounts, Mint lets you view them in one place. You’ll receive a reminder for upcoming bills so that you don’t forget to make payments. The app will also let you know when you’re in danger of not having enough money to pay bills.

Mint covers a number of critical functions, making it one of the top free personal finance applications. It’s relatively easy to use on most devices, and it generally streamlines the process of tracking your spending and managing your money. Mint should be your first download if you’re new to personal finance apps.

Albert

While Mint simply gives you information to aid your decisions, Albert plays an active role in shaping your financial goals and strategies. It also offers several unique features that aren’t available with most other free applications. It’s the perfect option for anyone looking to seriously upgrade their approach to personal finance.

People struggling to build up savings can use Albert to automatically contribute extra money. It’s much easier to change your financial habits when you’re guided through the process. The app offers cash bonuses on the money you save, so you’ll earn a higher return than some other savings accounts offer.

Furthermore, Albert offers bill negotiation services through Billshark. Most people assume their bill prices are set, but providers are often willing to lower rates. Billshark takes only a percentage of the money you save, so there’s no risk in signing up. You could get a lower price on anything from phone and internet to security and cable.

In addition to the features available to all users, Albert also provides a premium subscription called Albert Genius. This service connects members to real financial experts for more personal advice. The app allows you to pay what you wish after a 30-day free trial (with a minimum of $4 per month), and it’s available for both iOS and Android.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital provides some of the same features as both Mint and Albert, but users also have access to a number of helpful investment tools. As with Mint and Albert, Personal Capital’s core features are completely free, and the app is available via the App Store and Google Play.

Once you sign up for Personal Capital, you can connect accounts including savings, checking, loans, and retirement accounts to get an even wider picture of your financial life. The app monitors activity on these accounts and helps you avoid hidden investment fees which could be impacting your returns.

You can upgrade to a premium Personal Capital account for investment and wealth management advice. Pricing is based on the size of your portfolio and is divided into three tiers:

  • Investment Service ($100,000-$200,000)
  • Wealth Management ($200,000-$1,000,000)
  • Private Client (more than $1,000,000)

Members with larger portfolios can take advantage of even more advisory services. Whether or not personalized investment advice is right for you depends on your confidence and financial goals. You can always stop paying for additional services if you grow more comfortable with your finances.

Acorns

It’s often difficult to find room in your budget for savings, and Acorns — one of the most popular investment apps — makes this process effortless by automatically rounding up purchases and contributing the change to your investment account. You won’t notice the difference until you realize how much you saved at the end of the month.

You’ll find it much easier to include savings in your budget once you’ve grown accustomed to a slightly smaller budget. The Invest plan currently costs $1 per month and includes an investment account along with automatic round-ups and access to articles by financial experts.

Acorns also offers a feature called Found Money that gives your investing account an extra bonus when you make a purchase from its list of partners. The list includes popular stores such as Walmart and Airbnb.

You can upgrade to the Invest + Later plan for just $2 per month if you’re interested in investing for retirement. Retirement accounts offer a variety of tax advantages that aren’t available with conventional investment accounts. Standard 401(k)s and IRAs, for example, allow you to deduct contributions from your taxable income. Contributions to Roth accounts, on the other hand, are taxed upfront but grow tax-free and aren’t subject to taxes when you withdraw them during retirement.

$3 per month gets you all of Acorns’ features, including a checking account and debit card that integrate with the app’s tools. There are no minimum balance or overdraft fees, and you’ll receive unlimited reimbursement for ATM fees in the United States. This allows you to manage virtually every aspect of your personal finances for just a few dollars each month.
It’s often difficult to gain momentum when you’re new to personal finance, and a mobile app can help you make progress more quickly—both in your bank account and your financial mindset. These are just a few of the most effective apps for budgeting, saving, investing, and more.

Logan (Money Done Right) is a CPA, personal finance expert, and founder of the finance blog Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money.

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