One of the hallmarks of becoming a functional adult is understanding the value of money. Unfortunately, while most of us understand the importance of earning money, relatively fewer give due attention to managing it.
This is one reason so many high-earners are reaching a point of financial security much later if at all. Money management is important, and thanks to the advent of technology and a plethora of money management apps now available, it has become easier.
Not everyone has the same definition of a money management app. Some people consider budgeting apps the same as money management ones, while others prefer the more literal meaning, i.e., apps that actually let you manage your money: Banking, saving, and investing. For our choices below, we've considered the whole spectrum of money management apps.
Unifimoney is a money-management super-app that combines all the core money management elements, i.e., banking, savings, and investment, into one app. That prevents you from moving your money around in several banks. The app's fee-free banking, high-yield checking account, and a state-of-the-art robo-advisor that uses AI to read market patterns and make investment decisions accordingly. That includes liquidating part of your investment portfolio in case of an upcoming market crash.
Its auto-invest feature ensures that at least a small part of your income ($25 per month by default, $100/$200 recommended) is invested and growing. The website offers educational resources, but it doesn't have a budgeting feature or goal-based savings.
YNAB is easily the most revered paid budgeting app. It's a comprehensive budgeting system based on a time-tested "proven" budgeting method that helps you focus on your spending before you spend your money. With its goal-setting feature, it helps you manage your funds according to your immediate, short-term, and long-term saving and financial goals.
By syncing all your bank accounts, updating your budget in real-time, and comprehensive reports, the app can help you (a new budgeter) save $6,000 in your first year (on average). The app focuses a lot on financial education and has a strong customer support system.
Mint is a free budgeting app that helps you with more hands-on money management. With its bill tracking feature that includes reminders, low funds alerts and unusual spending alerts, it keeps you on your toes about what's necessary. You can create budgets, set goals and at the end of the day, see a comprehensive picture of your finances with its daily budget tracker. You can also track your investments are portfolio.
Personal capital is a wealth-building app with rudimentary budgeting as part of the package. It offers a fee-free checking account (Personal Capital Cash), an investment platform that offers socially responsible investment portfolios, net-worth tracking, fee analyzer (portfolio management fees), retirement and savings planner. The core app is free, but you have access to human financial-advisors when your portfolio reaches $100,000 at 0.89% AUM, which is low compared to the traditional advisory fee but costly compared to most robo-advisors.
Albert aims to be the premier financial wellness app and offers an adequate range of money management elements, i.e., saving, investing, and planning in one app. Most of the app's features are free, but you will need to subscribe to the Albert Genius to get access to curated portfolios. Albert Genius costs $4 to $6 a month. The app monitors your spending patterns and can put away extra dollars automatically (you will need Genius for goal-based savings). It also offers a $100 instant cash advance at a $4.99 cost ($3.99 for the Genius version).
A good budget is the digital version of the classic envelop-based budgeting. It allows you to manage your money by dividing it into different digital envelopes that fall under two categories: Regular and More. Regular envelopes are for expenses like food, bills, gas, subscriptions, etc. The more envelops can be for short-term and long-term savings goals or debt-management, etc. The free version lets you access ten regular, ten more envelopes, and run on two devices. The paid version ($5 per month) offers access to five devices, unlimited envelopes, and five-years of transaction history (the free version has one-year). It's a good budgeting tool, but nothing more than that.
Clarity money actually promises to help you manage your money and delivers on that promise to an extent, enough for a free app. It tracks your spending habits and helps you create and track your budget. It used to have a bill negotiation feature that is discontinued now, which helped you save a bit of money on your regular bills. Its powerful AI-based algorithm suggests adequate financial products that can help you consolidate and repay your debt (it's the same one as Marcus by Goldman Sachs). It also allows you to transfer funds across accounts and cancel subscriptions with one app.
Simplifi by Quicken is all about personalization. You can connect the app to all your accounts (it supports 14,000 financial institutions). It will consolidate all your finances for you in easy to read snapshots. As you start spending your money, it will categorize transactions, track your recurring bills, and monitor whether there is enough cash flow to cover your future expenses/bills as well, based on your previous spending patterns. You can create custom watchlists and limitations based on categories and payees. It simplifies budgeting and allows you to create and track savings goals.
Zeta is designed specifically for couples and has features that benefit people living and managing their finances together. It allows a couple to split their bills and expenses, creates shared and personal budgets (managing household and individual money), message each other about transactions, and a sharing control feature that allows you to control what the other can see. The app is free and has a number of expense tracking tools and budgeting features that can help a couple manage their money as both: one unit and as individuals. You can enter transactions manually and don't have to link to your bank accounts.
Stash is a great app for investment beginners and allows you to automatically save and invest your money into a wide range of stocks and ETFs. It does have basic budgeting features and allow you to set goals and separate your wants and needs. It also offers fee-free (apart from the monthly app subscription fee that starts at $1/month) banking with no overdraft fee but doesn't offer interest on your funds in the account. The automatic round-up on transactions, auto-invest, and stock-backed card that earns you shares instead of cashback or points are all geared towards the investment and wealth-building aspect of money management.
The best way to choose the money management app that suits you is to identify your money-management needs. Do you want a simple (or powerful) budgeting app, expense tracking, automatic saving and investment tools, or an app that offers a combined solution for your banking and investing needs? If you view the apps mentioned above through the lens of your money management needs and plans, you will be able to find the perfect match and a powerful financial planning ally.
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