According to Time, Americans cumulatively check their cell phones about 8 million times a day. Why not use a few of those unlocks to check in on your finances? Pick up a few of the best personal finance apps for your lifestyle and make managing your money easier than ever.
From improving your credit and setting up a budget to saving for emergencies and evaluating your spending, there’s an app for every aspect of money management—and a lot of them tackle several (if not all) of the tasks you could want! And they work for all sorts of financial situations—thanks to the seemingly endless customisations available in these apps, you can make them work whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or you’re already a millionaire (and if you are a millionaire, feel free to become a sponsor of An Ideal Life!).
Why go digital? Not only are we as a society always on our phones, but digital money management couldn’t be easier. I’m normally a paper and pen kind of girl, but I love these tools for their customisation options, personalised tips, and (mostly) seamless integration with my existing accounts.
These are some of the best personal finance apps I’ve found for managing my money (and yours):
For Budgeting & Tracking your funds:
I recently switched to YNAB for balancing my budget and really like it so far. But, in the past, I’ve used a wide variety of budgeting apps!
I’m always looking for new tools to try, so I’ve heard a lot about YNAB over the past several years. With limited funds, though, there was nothing that could get me away from free budgeting options. Recently, though, I was in the position to give YNAB a try…and I’m so glad I did. This program has just the balance of detail and simplicity I never realised I needed. I’m still making the YNAB process a habit, but it’s been so helpful so far!
A part of Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey+ offerings, EveryDollar encourages you to embrace a zero-based budget and guides you along the way. Incorporated with the Dave Ramsey baby steps, this app helps you manage your money with a budget right now and improve your personal finance systems over time. I don’t subscribe to all of his methods (as I’ve heard others say, he’s an “acquired taste”) but this is a solid option.
This app makes expense tracking fun, building a miniature city (complete with miniature citizens!) to your phone screen to help you track your spending and manage your money. From the makers of Plant Nanny, you’d expect nothing less!
Created by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, Mint will help you track your spending, set a budget, remember to pay your bills, AND check your credit score! That’s one mighty little app. You can make a free account with just a bit of information and get to managing your finances right away! I’ve pulled away from Mint a bit myself, but I still turn to it from time to time.
This app didn’t end up being a good fit for my needs, but is definitely a good candidate for some folks in need of a budgeting app.
Depending on the expert you’re consulting, the recommendations for saving a certain amount or percentage in a certain period of time will vary. But one tip shows up in nearly every compilation of tips: automating your savings will make that 20% or $1,000 per month you’re targeting a lot easier to reach.
A while back, my savings account with my primary bank was shut down after a period of going unused—when you’re barely meeting the basic necessities and student loan payments are increasing, there’s not a lot of room, or funds, to set money aside, unfortunately. Of course, this happened right around the same time I finally had a little extra money to save! I was frustrated but took to researching online savings accounts or banking services. The best one I discovered, by far, was Ally.
It’s worth noting that the interest rate has decreased quite a few times in the time I’ve had an account with Ally. But, even still, it’s a better rate than most standard savings account as of this writing. I’m hoping that it eases back up over time, or continues at about this rate.
There’s a very good possibility that your go-to bank or other financial provider already offers a savings account that can help you. You might even have one already! Consider whether your mobile banking app can already help you save, and look into the possibility of setting up automatic deposits in the process. Right now, this is my Capital One 360 Performance Savings account, another new addition to my personal finance plan (joining my Platinum card, Spark business account, and other Capital One products.
I used Qapital for quite a while, until they added fees for basic features. But, if you’re open to making that investment, it was a really helpful service for boosting savings!
I’m new to investing but am enjoying the process so far. I started off using Stash and recently joined Ally Invest, but am looking into diversifying not just my portfolio, but my platforms, too, over time.
In my experience, Stash makes for a fantastic introduction to investing. With a simple cost of $5 a month (plus a $1 fee), you can begin crafting an investment portfolio from the ground up. The app will even guide you in creating a stronger, more diverse portfolio over time!
Because I’ve had a good experience with Ally for savings, it was a natural transition to trying their investment features. NerdWallet calls Ally Invest “a strong option for all traders,” which makes it an even more compelling option! I haven’t done much with this account just yet, but I’m excited to dive in further.
I tend towards socially responsible investment strategies already, so the gender-based ideas behind Ellevest are particularly enticing. By women, for women, Ellevest aims to help close gendered financial gaps and give women (and others) the power and knowledge they need to succeed. The next time I have some unallocated funds to work with, I plan on giving this female-focused app a try!
For Sending & Receiving:
Say you’re out with your friends and you’re suddenly starving. But you forgot your wallet. With any one of these apps, you can have your friend spot you for a slice of pizza and you can pay her back painlessly.
PayPal is my go-to app for saving and receiving money. I do most of my business invoicing and transfers through the platform and take advantage of it for personal transfers as well. It’s accepted as payment in many places online as an additional bonus!
I’ve only used Cash App once or twice for transfers, but I’m happy to have the option. Better yet, I have no complaints from the times I’ve used it!
These days, a lot fewer people make their way through life without keeping a detailed check register or paper copy of their monthly statement. But you can’t get by without some sort of checking account, credit card, or another financial service.
Checking & Credit:
This is one of the categories in which your efforts will be personalized. Whatever bank or institution you use for your checking, credit, and services likely has a mobile app. Make sure you’ve downloaded the appropriate application to have your financials at your fingertips!
If you’re in the market for a new bank account, do some research and see what online or brick-and-mortar provider could be a good fit. I recently signed up for Capital One 360 Checking and am impressed with it so far!
For improving your credit:
If you’re combatting your debt, keeping track of your payments, and monitoring your finances well overall, you’re likely improving your credit score in the process. But, for a more in-depth look, guide, and look into your credit report and how you’ll improve your scores, convenient apps like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma can help.
Credit Sesame is one of my favourite personal finance apps, focusing on helping users improve their credit score, credit approval odds, and other factors of their financial lives. You can take advantage of your TransUnion credit score and credit report in addition to credit monitoring and other tools.
Like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma lets users monitor their credit, check credit scores and reports from TransUnion and Equifax, and utilize other financial services. I’m rather partial to Credit Sesame’s UX over this one’s, but Credit Karma is undeniably effective, too.
For Paying off debt:
From credit cards to loans, debts aren’t fun. And, without a solid plan to do so, you won’t know how to ensure you and your money can have a better future, one payment at a time.
Nerd Wallet has been one of my favourite websites for a long time, but I only recently discovered and started using their app to help manage my credit and money in general. I especially like that the app suggests what debt should be your priority among other suggestions.
For Bill Reminders:
From improving your credit to making sure your electricity stays on, bills are unavoidable. And, if you aren’t careful, far too easy to forget on a busy day. Some of the apps above offer bill reminders as one of their services but, for an extra tool, I tend to turn to my go-to reminder and to-do list services.
TrueBill is a relatively new addition to my personal finance app arsenal but I’m really enjoying it so far! The bill reminders, in particular, are super helpful. I still have a lot of features to really dive into, too!
Only recently did I dive into Todoist, making the small, but impactful investment in their premium plan. I’ve managed to set up projects and task lists for each major to-do in my life, from writing and publishing a book to, you guessed it, paying a bill! I especially like that I can use the shorthand option of typing “every [insert date here]” when I enter a new bill or another task, rather than entering the date separately for each. It’s only a few clicks’ difference, but it’s a welcome one all the same! I’ve used Amazing Marvin and Trello, a few of my other favourite to-do apps, as well.
Before I invested in Todoist, I spent quite a while relying on the built-in (Apple/iCloud) Reminders app to track my projects and tasks, including bills. While it has fewer features than a more intense productivity app like Todoist, Reminders is a fantastic, budget-friendly option that will remind you about your bills, colour-code your to-do list, and generally help you keep your life, be it personal, professional, or financial, in order.
Have you tried any of these Personal finance apps to manage your money? Do you have another one that you absolutely love? Let us know in the comments!