Getting your finances in order isn’t a one-time task — it’s an ongoing process. Whether it’s budgeting, planning your debt payoff, or monitoring your credit, your financial life needs regular, reliable attention. The right set of tools can help.
We’ve rounded up some of the best money apps and services to help you get on track and stay there, whether you’ve never created a budget or you’re a seasoned investor. Unless otherwise noted, all of these apps are free. Keep in mind, most of these tools require you to provide and link your bank or credit information. While they use strict security measures to protect your data, you should always read the terms and conditions on any app before you use it so that you know what you’re getting into.
Budgeting and keeping track of bills
Mint: Mint is one of the most popular online budgeting tools, and for good reason. Their web app makes it easy to set budgets for your spending, track how much money you have coming in every month, and stay on top of your expenses. Once you link your spending accounts to the service, your purchases are automatically categorized as restaurants, groceries, bills — you can even set your own categories and rules for purchases.
Who this is for: Anyone who wants to track their financial life — including bills, credit score and budgets — in one place.
You Need a Budget: You Need a Budget is another popular option among beginner budgeters and personal finance experts alike. This tool isn’t free. YNAB will cost you $6.99 a month, but for that fee, you’ll get access to financial literacy workshops and a community where you can meet and chat with other users about your financial progress. Like Mint, you can use YNAB via its online web app or download the app to your phone.
Paying off debt
Mint Goals: Even if you had already heard about Mint, you might not have heard of Mint’s Goals feature, which helps you create a financial goal and then tracks your progress toward that goal.
Who this is for: This tool is especially useful for paying off multiple credit card debts. Mint will give you a plan to pay each debt off, then track your progress for you.
SoFi: SoFi is a financial services company popular among borrowers who refinance their student loans. Refinancing, or rolling your loans into a new loan with a lower interest rate, isn’t always the ideal financial move (you could potentially lose federal loan benefits and relief options), but SoFi seems to stay true to their commitment to help users get out of debt, offering money workshops and tools to help you along the way. (Disclosure: I did a Q. and A. with SoFi while promoting my book, “Get Money.”)
Who this is for: Borrowers with abnormally high interest rates. SoFi annual percentage rates are relatively low, with variable rates ranging from about 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent for automatic payments.
Unbury.me: Unbury.me lets you keep track of your debts without linking them to any of your online accounts or even creating a login. You simply type your loan(s) by hand into their calculator, and unbury.me will organize them and provide you with a payoff plan.
Who this is for: Anyone who’s looking for a simple solution for managing debt, with a basic, no-frills payoff plan.
Qapital + IFTTT: Qapital is a mobile app that makes saving money fun (well, as fun as saving can be). Once you link your bank accounts and credit cards to the app, you can transfer money into your Qapital account automatically using any of their rules.
For example, its “Guilty Pleasure” rule automatically saves a set amount in your Qapital account any time you spend at a specified store. Its “Freelancer Rule” saves a percentage of any deposit over $100 into your account.
Who this is for: Those who want to gamify their finances. You can link Qapital to an online tool called If This, Then That. IFTTT connects the apps and features you use on your phone or computer so you can use them together. For example, there’s an IFTTT recipe that saves in your Qapital account if your Fitbit step goals aren’t met. Another recipe will automatically pay yourself every time you go to the gym. Yet another recipe will save every time you complete a task on your to-do list. You can find even more recipes here.
Tip Yourself: While it has fewer frills than Qapital, Tip Yourself is another good app for saving pocket cash every now and then. The app encourages you to “tip yourself” every time you go to the gym, skip an impulse buy or stick to your budget, but it’s up to you to decide when and how much to pay yourself. It’s not automatic, but the app does allow you to set certain goals for your saving. As you approach your goal, you’ll see your virtual tip jar fill up.
Who this is for: Anyone who wants a simple, hands-on way to save some extra cash.