Financial apps make budgeting and saving easier than ever

Posted at 11:10 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 23:32:35-04

Managing your money has never been easier. There’s a whole host of apps available to help you get organized, set budgets and even invest.

“We came from a place of balancing checkbooks and tracking receipts, but now we don’t have to, because we have finance at our fingertips with all the apps that are on the market now to help you do everything,” says Robin Thompson, owner of BudgetWise Consulting.

“You know money is just a tool, but when you don’t have a handle on it, so many aspects of your financial life are going to suffer,” she says.

Robin gave us a list of some apps she likes, including Mint, Wally, Acorns, Dobot, & Credit Karma.

We had the Troska family of Royal Oak give them a try. They have three kids. Tracy works full time and has a steady paycheck.  Mitchell is a server in a high-end restaurant, so his paycheck can fluctuate. When it comes to managing money…

“I think we just kind of wing it for the most part,” Mitchell says.

By far, their favorite app was Mint. It allows you to see all your bills in one place, get reminders when they’re due and pay them from the app. It also lets you track your expenses and divide spending into categories, along with setting budgets.

“I found that one so easy to use,” Stacy says. “It took time to get everything in, that was probably the main thing.”

And that’s the case with many of the apps. They require work up front, before you begin benefiting from the convenience. With the app Wally,you can upload your receipts, and it breaks them down into spending categories, which Stacy says is very helpful.

“Because you can see where you’re spending money much more easily or what you don’t realize. We’re all guilty of going to Starbucks to get coffee.”

With Dobot, you put in a goal, what you’re saving for, how much you’ll need, and when you’ll need it. And then Dobot claims it’ll help you get there, by transferring money into your Dobot savings account.

“I couldn’t exactly wrap my head around when it takes it, how much it takes, supposedly you can move it back if you need to,” she says.

The app Acornstakes a different approach. It’s called micro-investing. You connect your accounts, make a purchase, and Acorns rounds them up to the nearest dollar and invests your spare change. You pick what type of investor you are, and your money is spread among funds that match your risk level.

“So who wouldn’t want at the end of the year to see an extra 5 hundred dollars or more through an automated transaction,” Robin says. “These are investments that you can have outside of a 401k that you could tap if needed in the future.”

Mitchell and Stacy have their reservations about putting all their personal information into an app, something Robin understands. That’s why she suggests looking for apps that have the Verisign symbol, and ones with extra levels of authentication. She also suggests checking reviews for any apps you’re interested in using.