These days economic uncertainty is inspiring a lot of us to spend less and save more. Americans who were fortunate to keep a paycheck in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic saved a whopping 33% of their discretionary income in April 2020, compared to the 8% savings rate reported at the start of the year.
If your savings account could use a little more love, there are several apps—all of them free to download—that can help fine-tune your budget, automate your savings, and bulk up your emergency fund. Here are eight mobile apps, in no particular order, to consider adding to your home screen.
If you’re a spendthrift, Qapital can turn you into a super saver with its many features. The app connects to your bank account and automatically transfers money into the Qapital savings account using different rules.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the savings tactics:
- Round-up rule: This feature rounds up each of your purchases and saves the change, but it goes beyond what your bank may offer by jumping to the nearest dollar amount. For example, if you spend $50.60 at Whole Foods and choose to round up each purchase to $3, the transaction would be $53, and the app would save $2.40 for you.
- 52-week rule: You may have seen the 52-week savings challenge making the rounds on social media. It’s when you save a certain amount of money each week for an entire year. The first week you save $1, the second week you save $2, and so on until you’ve set aside $1,378 after 12 months. With Qapital’s 52-week rule, the app can do the savings challenge for you automatically.
- Freelance rule: If you’re an independent contractor who doesn’t get taxes withheld, this rule saves a percentage of each bank deposit so you can pay Uncle Sam.
Qapital accounts are insured by the FDIC, which means the federal government guarantees up to $250,000 of your balance.
2. Experian Credit Monitoring
A credit score in the “good” to “excellent” range can open doors to better interest rates. And paying less interest on your car loan or mortgage over its term keeps more money in your pocket.
To help you build credit, Experian offers a free app that sends alerts when there’s changes to your credit report as well as FICO Score updates so you can track credit score growth.
The account also comes with Experian Boost—a free service that lets you add on-time utility and phone payments to your credit report, which could improve your credit score.
Monitoring your credit report can also help you catch and report fraud before it gets out of control. If identity theft gets caught too late in the game, restoring your identity can be more costly and time-consuming.
Tally is a “robo-advisor” for your credit card debt. The app lets you manage multiple credit cards in one place, and uses an algorithm to pay outstanding balances in a way that will cost you the least amount of interest.
While the app is free to download, the company offers a credit line to consolidate high-interest debt from a dozen major issuers like American Express and Chase.
That will come at a price, with interest rates ranging from 7.90% to 25.90% APR (at the time of publishing), depending on your credit. But there is no annual fee, origination fee, or balance transfer fee.
The app does not consolidate debt that has a lower interest rate than the Tally credit line. Instead, it automatically sends the minimum payment (unless you turn off its Late Fee Protection feature), so you can say goodbye to late fees. If you’re juggling multiple credit cards, Tally can make repayment less of a hassle—you make one payment to Tally, and Tally distributes the money for you. Keep in mind: You need a minimum credit score of 660 to qualify.
PocketGuard is a money management and budgeting tool that helps control spending. It lets you see all of your financial accounts in one place, including your checking accounts, credit card accounts, and investment accounts.
The app reviews your deposits, bills, and savings goals to tell you how much “spendable” money you have. The app also has a pie chart so you can visualize where your money is going. PocketGuard comes with reports, and you can categorize spending for easier budgeting.
If you and your partner are trying to get your financial life together, the Honeydue app makes combining finances less of a hassle. Both of you connect financial accounts to the app so you can track your balances and transactions.
You can set spending limits and add bill due dates to a calendar to better manage your household expenses, such as rent, utilities, Netflix, and more.
And if you’re looking to merge finances, Honeydue offers a joint prepaid debit card that you could consider using for date nights and other joint purchases.
6. Personal Capital
Many mobile banking apps let you manage money on a micro-level. When it’s time to look at the big picture, Personal Capital is worth a download.
The wealth management app tracks your net worth, and comes with long-term planning tools that can tell you how your investments are performing and whether you’re on track for retirement.
A key money-saving feature is the fee analyzer tool, which shows you how much you’re paying for your different investment and retirement accounts. With this knowledge, you can make adjustments to lower the monthly fees that are eating away at your savings.
If you’re a little forgetful, Prism can stay on top of bills for you so you can avoid pesky late fees. The app tracks your bills’ due dates, and sends you payment reminders.
It does this by pulling dates from your statements and placing them on a calendar or list. This way, you don’t have to log in to review each of your bill accounts individually.
You can also pay bills through the app by adding a bank account, credit card, or debit card. Prism can pay more than 11,000 billers, including credit card, utility, phone, and internet companies.
Do you ever look at your bank account and wonder where your money goes? Truebill reviews your statements and identifies all of the recurring charges so you can decide which to keep and which to cancel to put some extra money back in your pocket. If you want to cancel something, the company will even show you the contact info and steps right there in the app.
Truebill offers a bill reduction negotiation service as well, but based on reviews, you’re better off trying to negotiate on your own to keep all of the savings.