5 best financial smartphone apps
It’s almost a cliché, but at this point in human history, if there’s anything you want to do, there is definitely an app for that. If you want to lose weight, there are a million great calorie trackers and exercise guides. If you want to find your way around a new city, there are awesome travel guides and transit maps. And if you want to manage your finances like a pro, there are a LOT of great apps that will help you do just that.
Your Bank’s App – probably free!
I know, this seems lazy, but seriously. Your bank and credit card company both undoubtedly have awesome apps, and you should use them. Most bank/credit card apps allow you to make payments, monitor your balances, and even deposit checks using your smartphone camera. Many of them also offer you free credit score monitoring. If you haven’t downloaded your bank’s app, do it now.
Mint – free!
This is the granddaddy of finance apps, and it’s still going strong. Mint is a comprehensive financial tracker. You link your bank accounts, credit cards and whatnot to Mint, and it lets you see at a glance how much money you have, how much you owe, what you’re spending, and even how you compare to other Americans (this feature isn’t particularly well developed, but maybe it will improve over time and the idea is cool).
You can pay your bills through Mint, and it will alert you when bills are due.
As a fun bonus, Mint also gives you free access to your credit score.
You Need A Budget - $50 a year
OK, so you have to pay actual money for this. And it’s not really an app. I mean, there’s an app, but you need to run the actual software on a big girl computer. And the name is clunky and too long, and the acronym YNAB is annoying. BUT! This is a pretty damn comprehensive tool that does a lot of great stuff.
Basically, the software asks you to set up a detailed budget that assigns a job to every dollar (that’s literally the name of one of their four rules – adorable!). It helps you set saving goals, develop a plan to pay down your debt, and track penny you spend. If you’re feeling really serious about the financial life, it’s worth checking out. They offer a free 34 day trial (I don’t know why it’s not 30 days. I just don’t).
Key Ring – free!
This is one that I have conflicting thoughts on. It’s an app that lets you enter all your loyalty store cards, so you can free up your key ring (geddit?). It also lets you know about any sales that are coming up, and upload a shopping list. That’s cool – it can help you find sale prices on stuff you need, and store loyalty cards are a good way to save extra on your purchases.
But, and this is a big but, I also worry that having constant updates on nearby sales may encourage you to spend. And, of course, by using this app you are creating a huge, glowing data trail of your spending habits that marketers will use to target you with offers designed to make you want to buy. So it’s possible that this app may actually harm your finances. You know yourself – if this is likely to make you spend, skip it. If you’ll use it for convenience, and finding great prices on stuff you really need, then go for it.
BetterHaves – free!
This is a cool little app. Basically, it’s a budgeting tool for couples, that lets you create and monitor a shared budget. Unlike OnBudget, it isn’t linked to a pre-paid card, but it has many adorable features, such as alerting you when it thinks there’s a money fight coming, and letting you track how you feel about your spending. Fun, and also a solid budgeting tool.