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5 Best money-saving apps
How to automate your savings and build up an emergency fund
Saving money isn’t always as simple as it sounds. If you don’t have much discretionary income, it can take a lot of mental math to figure out what you have left over after paying rent, bills, and expenses. Fortunately, a number of companies have tackled this problem for you. From digital envelope budgeting to rounding up spending, the best money saving apps will help you consistently build savings over time.
Our favorite automated saving apps
|Get paid 2 days early with direct depositRound up the transfer of your purchase to savingsTransfer % of your paycheck to savings||No fees|
|Have your debit transactions automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar and put that difference into savings.Offers checking with high-yield savings subaccounts.||No fees|
|Round up your purchases to set aside spare change. Earn bonus investments with 350+ money partnersSteers your money to investment accounts like exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and has an IRA retirement account option too||Basic: $1 per month|
Plus: $2 per month
Premium: $3 per month
|Rounds up change to the nearest dollar and moves it into savings.Payday Divvy featureMoney and goal missions||$3, $6 or $12 per month depending on the level of resources you want|
|Calculates what you can afford to save, sets it aside.Includes a 1% savings bonus every three months||Free trial $5 per month|
Best for quickly saving up an emergency fund: Chime Banking
App Store: 4.8/5, Google Play: 4.6/5
Building up an emergency fund is one of the most essential stepping stones to building long term financial stability. With Chime, available for both iOS and Android devices, their Save When You Get Paid program automatically transfers 10% of your paycheck into a savings account. If you make a purchase using the Chime debit card, they’ll also round up your purchase amount to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into your savings account.
Pros: A clear and simple approach to building an emergency fund. Automatic transfers from your paycheck and purchase round ups help you build savings quickly without thinking about it.
Cons: The automatic transfer of 10% into savings can feel like a big chunk out of your paycheck at first. Fortunately, you can adjust the amount.
Best for banking and budgeting: Simple
App Store: 3.3/5, Google Play: 4.0/5
Simple, available for both iOS and Android devices, blends banking and budgeting into a single app. Their app is basically a free checking account with digital budgeting envelopes called “goals”, and their Safe-to-Spend feature lets you know what amount you can safely spend after bills and expenses. Simple also rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar amount and sets it aside in a high-yield savings account.
Pros: No monthly fees, no overdraft fees, lets you know how much you can safely spend, rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and puts that amount in a high-yield savings account.
Cons: Simple doesn’t offer bill-pay feature, so you’ll still need to manually pay your bills monthly. It also has lower app store ratings than some of our other recommended apps.
Best for passively investing for the future: Acorns
App Store: 4.7/5, Google Play: 4.5/5
Acorns operates a little like Chime— but for long term investments. Your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is transferred from your checking account to a linked Acorns account. Acorns places your money in an investment portfolio of your choosing, and you can adjust how aggressive or conservative you want to be with your portfolio.
Pros: A really manageable way to start investing in small increments for a pretty low cost. It’s just $1 a month of their basic investment account.
Cons: As with any investment account, there’s risk and reward. Your money could grow rapidly over time or you could lose it all. It all depends on the stock market. Withdrawing money from an investment account is also a slower process than a normal savings account. It usually takes about 3 days.
Best for customizing your savings plan: Qapital
App Store: 4.8/5, Google Play: 4.1/5
Qapital allows you to create your own methods of automated savings, and then it performs those actions for you. You can contribute a lump sum of money to your savings account every week or set up a rounding up approach similar to other apps. You can also connect up with family in friends within Qapital to give yourself some gentle encouragement — or competition — to save.
Pros: The widest variety of options to help you save. They also have a spending account with a free debit card.
Cons: Membership cost $3, $6, or $12 a month depending on the levels of customization and additional features. You savings also only earn around 0.1% interest, far less than some of the other options out there.
Best for automatic savings detection: Digit
App Store: 4.7/5, Google Play: 4.4/5
Digit is another savings app that automates the savings process. Their technology automatically detects your spending patterns, calculates how much you can safely put aside for savings, and then transfers that amount into a savings account a few times each week.
This automatic adjustment capability makes Digit unique as well as super simple, as they do all the work for you. For this convenience, there is a $5 monthly charge (after a 30-day free trial), so keep that in mind when choosing your app!
Pros: Digit automatically adjust your savings rate based on income and spending patters and gives you 1% savings bonus every three months.
Cons: After the free trial, Digit charges $5 a month and because it takes it from an externally linked checking account, you can incur overdraft charges.
Saving now to prepare for an emergency
Saving money can seem a little daunting but it’s one of the best things you can do to protect yourself. Using one of the best money saving apps will help you get rolling without having to consciously think about it every week. Whether your goal is longer term investment or a short-term safety net, you’ll start making progress faster than you think.
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