Automatic Money Saving Apps to Save with Less Stress
The problem with saving money is that spending it is so tempting. There is always an urgent need or want for which you could use that money. It’s so hard to leave it alone in your checking account. So, what can you do? Fortunately, we have access to a number of automatic money saving apps. They’re all designed to help you put money aside during the month so you can meet savings goals stress-free. We’ve identified the top 5 money saving apps that you should download and include in your financial strategy.
Best App for Investing: Acorn
Cost: $1 per month (Acorns Core); $2 per month (Acorns Later); $3 per month (Acorns Spend).
Looking for an app that makes investing easy? Consider linking your checking account to the Acorn app. It works by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar. The change is deposited to an Acorns account where it is invested. Your investment portfolio is determined by your income and goals.
This automatic saving app is divided into three tiers: Acorns Core, Acorns Later, and Acorns Spend.
- Acorns Core works by linking each of your spending accounts (like credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, and PayPal). Each transaction’s amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar and deposited to the Acorn account. When the account reaches $5, it is placed in an investment portfolio.
Acorn allows you to access “Found Money”. It’s a program where over 200 partner brands “invest” money into your Acorn account when you shop with them. You can have up to 10% of your purchase deposited into your account by your favorite retailer.
The app allows you the option to withdraw the money accumulated in the investment account whenever you want. The funds will arrive between 5 and 7 days, and there is no withdrawal maximum.
- Acorns Later provides you with all the benefits of Acorn Core, and a hassle-free path to retirement savings. For your investments, the app recommends a portfolio and an IRA. It makes it even easier to invest by setting up automatic recurring contributions. (This feature is not available at the Core level.) It also helps you with setting up rollovers and can automatically rebalance the account the closer you get to retirement.
- Acorns Spend takes Acorn Later further, by adding a checking account and debit card. All purchases made on these accounts are always rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the change is invested. There is no overdraft fee and no minimum balance fees with the account. The card offers unlimited free or reimbursed fee access to ATMs across the country.
- Acorn is a painless way to save and invest money.
- It makes investing less intimidating and confusing.
- Acord has the lowest cost threshold for investing.
- The app has excellent customer service.
- The user must keep track of their own finances. This is necessary to avoid overdrafts, transaction limitations for savings accounts, or other credit or debit card problems.
Best App for New Savers: Digit
Cost: $5 per month (free 1-month trial).
Digit makes saving money almost effortless. It syncs your bank accounts and analyzes your cash flow. Every 2-3 days, it will tell you how much money you may transfer to a Digit account that is FDIC-insured. (The amount will be between $5 and $50.)
If any transfers leave you overdrawn, Digit will reimburse overdraft fees for up to two transactions. Should you need to move money from your Digit account, you may receive it in 1 business day.
Technically, Digit is not a money saving app; in fact, it is not a true app at all. However, because you may use your cell phone to access Digit online and receive daily text messages, we consider it an app for purposes needed. You must sign up online to use Digit. Digit will send you daily messages to update you on your current bank balance. You may opt-in for more detailed check-ins by text. These will show recent debits to your account, and a daily snapshot of your finances.
- Saving is automatic and painless.
- Accessing money is easy.
- You will earn a 1% annual bonus on your savings, paid every 3 months.
- There is a $5 monthly fee.
- Digit may cause overdrafts in your external checking accounts. You may set up limits to how much should be saved.
Best App for Setting Goals: Qapital
Cost: $3 per month (Qapital Basic); $6 per month (Qapital Complete); $12 per month (Qapital Master).
If you have a goal that you’re saving towards, take a look at Qapital. It provides motivation by having you work towards a goal. You link a checking account to your Qapital account (an FDIC-insured account from Wells Fargo) and choose your goal. Then you select from one of the eight savings rules from Qapital to follow:
- Set & Forget. You automate the app to move a pre-determined amount on a regular basis (daily, weekly, or monthly).
- Roundup. This is similar to round-up options in other apps, except you can round up in increments from $1 to $5.
- Spend Less. Set a target budget amount. If you spend less than that amount, the difference will be transferred to savings. If you budget $20 per week at Starbucks, but only spend $10, the other $10 will be transferred.
- Guilty Pleasure. Use your bad habits for good. Every time you indulge in a certain type of purchase, a deposit is made into your savings account automatically. For example, each time you purchase fast food instead of eating at home, you make a deposit.
- Apple Health. It pays to work out – literally. Set fitness goals with your iPhone. Each time you meet one, Qapital will transfer money into your savings.
- IFTTT (If This Then That). You can use IFTTT to set up events that will trigger savings. For example, you can create a gas fueling event that will save $10 each time you fill your gas tank.
- Freelancer. Every time you get paid, money will be put aside for taxes.
- 52 Week Rule. Start by saving $1 the first week; then $2 the second week; and $52 on the 52nd week.
Qapital has built-in protection from overdrafts. Any transfers that will result in you having less than $100 in the funding account will be halted. The same applies to rules that may be triggered. When your account has enough buffer to accommodate Qapital transactions without falling under $100, they will be restarted.
The app has three membership tiers and corresponding prices.
- Basic plan provides access to the goal-setting program and automated rules that can be modified. You can set an unlimited set of goals with the Basic plan.
- Complete plan gives you access to all of Qapital’s tools for saving, budgeting, spending and investing. You also get access to the Qapital spending account and Visa debit card. With these tools, you can send e-checks and earn 0.1% interest.
- Master plan offers everything from the previous plans, and access to webinars and other in-app challenges to save money.
- Qapital uses your behavior to motivate you to increase your savings.
- Purchases and transfers on the debit card are free of charge.
- You can create joint goals with other people.
- To fund the Qapital account, you need a checking account. A savings account cannot be used because savings accounts are limited to six transactions per month. Qapital uses at least eight transactions over the same time period.
- Qapital doesn’t have physical banks or live customer service representatives you can speak to in person.
- There may be fees associated with using ATMs. (These fees are charged by the ATM owner or bank, not by Qapital.)
- Qapital has a daily $1000 limit for ATM withdrawals.
- You only earn 0.1% interest on your savings account, which is a small amount.
Best for Users Who Prefer to Automate Their Banking: Chime
Cost: Free (ATM fees and over-the-counter cash withdrawal fees from third parties may apply).
Chime is a complete online bank that provides an automated saving app. There are two ways to save with Chime:
- Save When You Spend. This is their version of rounding up to the nearest dollar. Each Chime account has a Chime Visa debit card. When you make a purchase with this card, it gets rounded up. The change is deposited from your checking account into the Chime Savings Account. For further motivation, Chime pays out a 10% bonus each Friday on the rounded-up savings, up to $500 per year.
- Save When You Get Paid. You may automate your savings to occur every time you get a paycheck. With this, you may deposit 10% of your salary into your Chime Savings account.
- There are no fees or minimum deposits.
- You may receive rewards from using the Chime Visa card in the form of cash back or points.
- The Chime Savings account interest is very low (currently set to 0.01% APY). Most online savings accounts are 100 times larger than that.
Best for Customers of Bank of America: Keep the Change
Availability: iPhone, Android.
If you have a Bank of America account this money saving app may work for you. Before you activate the app, you must have a checking account, a savings account and a debit card from Bank of America. Upon signing up, the bank will automatically begin rounding up purchases made on your debit card to the nearest dollar. The rounded-up money is deposited into the savings account.
For example, let’s say you purchase $27.17 worth of groceries on your Bank of America card. Keep the Change will round up the purchases to $28.00, depositing $0.83 into savings. While this may seem small, it can add up if your Bank of America debit card is your primary card. Frequently using the card will cause the round-ups to add up. Since each deposit is under $1, you don’t feel the pain of the withdrawal. The app has built-in overdraft protection. If the transaction will cause an overdraft, the bank will cancel the transfer rather than have your account go negative.
Keep the Change does not penalize you for returning items or canceling a purchase. The money deposited in your savings account is not reversed. Even better, you can access the savings account at any time.
Bank of America does not have a separate app for Keep the Change. The program can be monitored using the bank’s full app.
- Keep the Change is easy to use. Simply purchase items with your debit card and the rest is done for you.
- The Keep the Change transactions that would overdraw your checking account are canceled.
- The program is only accessible to Bank of America customers.
- The interest rate is very low for the savings account. You may need to move money to higher interest accounts every so often.
If you are having trouble starting or maintaining a savings balance, money saving apps can help. It may be just the foundation you need to get started and keep going. Setting regular deposits, and watching your balance grow and compound can be another step in the path to financial independence. It may also help you manage your cash flow for income and expenses. When saving becomes automated, it will be easier to maintain a regular savings account.