Save or spend? How apps can help you stay on track.

July 7, 2016 – Budgeting, or keeping track of how much money you’re spending and on what, can do wonders for your savings. Even without consciously deciding to spend less and save more, monitoring your finances can help you stay on track with your spending goals and stop you from over-the-top splurges.

Despite the benefits, many people don’t budget simply because it sounds like too much work. Fortunately, the device that many of us carry around in our pockets all day- the smart phone- offers a possible solution. There are various smartphone apps that are easy to use and can help you budget and save money. Here are a few examples of popular apps available:

(Please note, WISER is not providing an endorsement of these apps. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide the best process or tools to use when it comes to budgeting or saving.)

  1. Mint

Mint may be the best known of the budgeting apps. It offers no-frills, straightforward information about your spending habits. After you link the app up with all of your accounts- checking, savings, retirement, credit cards-the app will automatically record and categorize every transaction. You can set goals for each month- like how much you want to spend on groceries, or clothing for example- and the app will tell you when you’ve gone over budget. The main home screen gives you the most basic information you need, including how much you’ve made this month and how much you’ve spent, so you’ll know if you’re in the green or in the red. Mint is available for iOS and Android.

  1. BillTracker

If you struggle with paying your bills on time and pay the price with overdue fees and increasing interest, BillTracker may be for you.  The app allows you to keep track of all your bills and due dates and will notify you when it’s time to make a payment. A calendar feature keeps all the due dates of your bills in one place. Billtracker is available for iOS.

  1. You Need A Budget (YNAB)

YNAB says that it will help you “gain total control of your money,” including paying off debt, saving more money, and breaking the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. YNAB costs $5 a month, or $50 a year—but you can try a free 30-day trial (no credit card info required) before you commit. For that money, you get software for your computer and a supplemental app. Together, the two help can you to better manage money by following four rules: 1) Give every dollar a job. 2) Embrace your true expenses. 3) Roll with the punches. And 4) Age your money (meaning increase the time between receiving your money and spending it). YNAB is available for iOS and Android.

  1. Acorns

Acorns is an investing app that links with your bank accounts and credit cards. Acorn rounds up every purchase and invests the spare change into a diversified portfolio. If you are interested in beginning to invest your extra dollars but aren’t sure how, this could be a first step. Acorns is available for iOS and Android.

App stores are filled with a variety of saving and financial planning tools. The key is to figure out what works best for you. As an end note, always approach any service that asks you to enter banking and other account information with a healthy amount of skepticism. While all of the services listed here are verified, there’s always a chance of hacking or other security breaches. Do your own research before you provide any private information to a third party.

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