Money-Saving Apps that Do the Penny Pinching for You
By Andrea Bereznak
You know you need to start saving. You want to save. It’s clear in your mind, but how can you do it?
A friend of mine recently bemoaned the rising home prices, wishing they had saved more the past few years so they could be enjoying their new house, rather than now pinching pennies as they watch prices tick higher each month.
So what to do?
I am a big fan of using automation to make keeping good habits easy. In fact, when set up, any tool you use should make it more difficult to NOT save. Below are some apps and tools you might consider if you want to boost your savings success. (Note: This is not an endorsement of any specific tool. Some apps and tools are free; others have a fee or monthly charge)
Your Bank’s Scheduled Transfer Feature
This is simple and effective. Once you determine how much you want to save each month or each pay-period, simply schedule a recurring transfer from the account your paycheck is deposited into to your bank savings account or another outside account like an investment account. You can set it and forget it.
Not an automatic savings app, but rather an account aggregator tool with a budgeting feature. Knowing where your money is, where it is coming from, and where it is going are critical to financial success. This app shows you, in real time, your exact Net Worth, debts, progress in your monthly budget. If you set savings goals, the app will show your progress based on the increases in your linked accounts.
bank and online app with an automatic savings program. The bank rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar and deposits that money into a savings account. Last I looked they also add a 10% reward to the money you set aside, but the savings account interest rate is currently pretty low compared to what most online banks offer.
An automatic saving app that allows you to save based on goals. You can decide what triggers a deposit, and Qapital will do the work of getting that money into a savings account. They also have a “round up” feature.
A hybrid savings and investing and savings app that rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. Unlike the other apps listed here, this app focuses on investing, not just saving. Acorns charges a $1 monthly fee if your balance is less than $5,000 or a .25% annual fee if your balance is more than $5,000.
A budgeting and account aggregation app that also has savings built in. They also launched banking in September of 2018, so you can and also connect your accounts, track your spending, and also save money on their platform. Empower is free at of the time of this writing.
BUT…You Still Have to do Your Part - Micro Saving Produces Micro Results
Some of these apps, particularly the “round up” features, are very popular - but they may be insufficient on their own.
As an example, last month my husband and I had 35 electronic payment transactions hit our bank account. If the average round-up amount is $0.50, that means we would have saved $17.50 over the course of the month. Multiply that by 12 months, and over a year we would have an extra $210 in our savings account. $210 is definitely better than $0, but “rounding up” along is probably never going to get you a new car or a down payment. Even someone with significantly more transactions, say 100, would be saving around $50 per month. To save the extra $32.50, think of how much more you would also be SPENDING to generate those 65 more transactions!
If you choose an app that invests that $0.50, even an incredible 25% return in a month (unlikely in normal circumstances, and likely only in very risky investments) will leave you with…62.5 cents. You may be better off saving diligently into a high interest savings account first, then opening an investment account once your short-term goals are covered and you have $5,000 to contribute to medium and long-term goals.
If you want to be hands off but make sure you pay yourself first each month, it can be helpful to use an app or schedule an automatic transfer to move money from your checking account into your savings account right after each time you get paid. Just make sure that you do the pre-work of determining what you can feasibly save each month, and that you are putting enough away to really reach your goals.
If you have your savings well established and are ready for the next step in your financial journey Rayhons Financial can help with financial coaching, advanced planning tools, and investment advice.
The content in this article was prepared by the article’s author. Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC does not endorse its content, and the views expressed may not necessarily reflect those held by Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC.