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One of the biggest requests I’ve received so far on this blog is reviewing the best personal finance apps. First of all, thank you for your feedback. Secondly, I hear you. And I’m still blown away that people want my opinion on these things. One thing I know for sure: I’m a huge fan of technology. Clearly, I’m also a fan of personal finance (duh! it’s a personal finance blog!). Reviewing the best personal finance apps is going to be the best of both worlds for me.
If you haven’t heard already, mobile apps are taking over our lives. Currently, the Android app store has over 2.8 million apps. Apple boasts a little over 2.2 million. As you can imagine, this doesn’t make it easy for anyone to find quality finance apps. There are huge blogs out there with teams of writers dedicated to keeping up with the constant flood of new apps released each day. I can barely keep up with eating breakfast every morning.
All this to say: I’ll only be able to review a few apps at a time (targeting one app review a month…we’ll see how that goes). I want to be very careful with my selection. And I want to be able to spend time with the app. It’s one thing to use an app, but it’s another thing to live with it. I’m hoping to give my personal, honest opinion of the app each time, not just an in-depth overview of the app’s features. Regardless, the goal is to give you guys firsthand and detailed feedback. There will be good apps. There will be bad ones. Popular apps. Hidden gems. You name it! It’s going to be fun exploring what’s out there.
What do People Use?
I asked a random group of people what personal finance apps they used on a daily basis. Yes, my stats teacher would’ve killed me for such a small sample size. But I like the uniqueness of the answers that were given. I posed a couple simple questions. “Do you personally use any personal finance applications? If so, which ones do you use? If not, why?” Here are some of the responses I got:
“Nope, I just Excel everything. I just never really got into it (personal finance apps), I suppose.”
“Yes, I love my personal finance apps! I really like my Bank of America app. I can deposit checks just by taking a picture of it. I’ve also set up automatic bill pay so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay anything.”
“I used to use Mint. But it became tedious. I didn’t want to keep checking it. But, I still use my Suntrust and Chase apps. I use those to check my statements.”
“Yes I do. I took a personal finance class that recommended EveryDollar. Its helped out my spouse and I. Really simple to use and we’re saving more than ever.”
“Nope. Good old pen and pad. I never found one (finance app) that made me say ‘this is easier than just writing it down on paper.’ Though now that you mention it, it might be helpful to save it on my computer.”
“No I don’t. I’m out of storage on my phone.”
I was actually fairly surprised with the results, even with this small sample size. I assumed that everyone in the 21st century with a smartphone would be using a personal finance app. But it makes sense. Some of the responses hinted at how tedious apps can get. Others just prefer good old pen and paper. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Heck, some of my work colleagues prefer scheduling appointments on a paper notebook rather than on Microsoft Outlook.
Yes, there’s a learning curve with some of these applications. And not everyone will be for you, and you may end up liking Excel better. But there are so many personal finance apps out there that I believe there’s one for everyone. It might take time to find one that best fits your needs and one that truly deserves a spot on your phone. But it’s out there somewhere!
There’s An App For That?
Yes. There are enough apps to cover every category of personal finance out there. If I can write about something personal finance-related, there’s probably already an app for it. If not, someone’s already working on it. Like I’ve mentioned before, there are thousands of apps out there that want to get your attention. Makes it difficult to find the best personal finance apps for you.
Obviously, not every app can fit into one perfect category. There are some that might just do everything. Below is a list of some of these categories. I’ve also included some of the most popular/best personal finance apps in each category.
- Budgeting: These are the apps that pretty much do it all. If you’re looking to retire from pen and paper, this is the way to go. Overall, they have the same goal: to help you budget (Thanks, Kong). But their features will differ. And sometimes it can be really daunting learn it all. Unfortunately, there are tons of budgeting apps out there, so finding the best one for you can be tough. Examples include: Wally, Mint, YNAB, EveryDollar
- Savings: Some of the budgeting apps above will definitely help you save. However, these apps tend to be focused on savings (That was helpful, Kong). Some may force you to save a certain amount each day. Others may automatically deposit any change you get into savings. There’s a lot of these apps as well. Some gimmicky. Others quite clever. Examples include: Unsplurge, Acorn, Digit
- Banking/Credit Cards: You’re pretty much stuck with these if you are tied to a certain bank/credit card. But a lot of them come with really cool features. Some will give you free FICO credit score snapshots. Others will provide automatic bill pay. If you have a lot of credit cards (click here for best suggestions), then you can take advantage of multiple banking apps. Examples include: Discover, Chase, Citi, American Express
- Advising: Need someone to just give you financial advice? Well, there are apps for that. By syncing all your information and your spending habits, these apps can provide you best suggestions. Examples include: Credit Karma, Albert
- Payment: Forgot your wallet? Likely story… But hey! Now there’s no excuse you can’t pay back your friend for covering your lunch. We can send money over to people in a touch of a button. There’s almost no need for you to bring your wallet, ever. Examples include: Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo
- Investing: It doesn’t matter if you’re investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or cryptocurrency. Heck, you can even play around with fake currency in the stock market if you want. There are apps out there for all these things. Examples include: Stock Market Simulator, Vanguard, TD Ameritrade, Coinbase
Why Should I Use These?
It’s 2017! Save the trees! Just kidding (well not kidding about either of those, but those aren’t the main reasons to use these apps). Here are some of the obvious benefits I can think of in using personal finance apps:
- Convenience: You’re always using your phone. And you know it. Well, now you have another reason to stay on it (hmm…maybe this is a bad thing).
- Automation: Until AI takes over the world, automation is a good thing. Automating can make saving money easy. It can also help you pay your bills (for you forgetful people).
- Selection: As you can see from above, there are so many apps to choose from. You can find an app to satisfy almost any personal finance need.
- Evolution: Apps get updated. They also adapt to change (as long as the developer continues to support it). New features get added. Bad features get removed. Pen and paper. Well, it’s just going to be a pen…and a paper.
I admit…I definitely forced that last word in there. Just to spell out the acronym CASE. Hey, it kinda makes sense. There’s a CASE for using apps, in CASE you didn’t know. (No wonder my subscriber list is dropping).
What I’ve Been Using
Admittedly, I use many of the standard, mainstream personal finance apps (not a personal finance hipster just yet). I have my default banking/credit card apps. I have Mint as my main budgeting app for now. Although, I am also using a couple other budgeting apps on the side. I’m testing out Acorn for savings and use Coinbase, Ameritrade, and Vanguard for investing. I’ve used Chase Pay and Apple Pay a few times, but not enough to justify having them downloaded. Another app I use is Birch, which helps to track my credit card rewards (if you’re interested, click here to sign up/download). And I use Venmo all the time because I’m always forgetting my wallet! (Yes, I’m that guy.)
Well, this is really just the beginning. Like I’ve said before, I’m excited to dive into deeper reviews of these apps I’m currently using. There are plenty of other apps I want to try to, so if you have suggestions, please let me know!
So, what are you using? Do you like personal finance apps? Do you use them daily? Or are you more of an Excel type of person? Are there some other cool personal finance apps that aren’t well known that you may be using? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and reading your comments!