It’s that time of the year again where budgets get thrown out the door, and we start spending money like it’s our job. And, while you would think that an article like this would be better suited for January, I thought I’d take a different approach.
Instead of giving you useful financial tips and apps after you’ve done all of your Christmas spending, I want to give you some tips prior to seeing if any of them might stick. While it’s probably just a shot in the dark, I like to think of it as my gift to you this holiday season – sorry, it’s all I have in the budget.
I won’t be covering the big financial apps most people have heard of before (think Mint), but rather some lesser known apps that have been proven to make your financial life a little easier and more efficient – and might even save you a few bucks with your holiday shopping.
Qapital likes to pride itself as “Banking designed with your goals in mind.” It makes total sense to me as a financial planner, and I love the idea. I see it all the time, as most people don’t save a whole lot because they don’t have any set goals. Nothing specific to save for = no savings.
Once you download the app, it’s then a matter of setting up your savings goals. They have plenty to choose from, or you can create your own. Once you have those created, then it’s a matter of setting up your savings “rules.”
You can set up a “Round-Up Rule.” This means every purchase you have on the linked card with roundup with that savings going towards one of your goals. They also have the “Set and Forget Rule” that will automatically save an amount of money on a certain day of the week.
There are plenty of other creative rules you can set up as well. It’s almost like gamification for your savings. I can definitely see this being a big hit with some folks.
As for where the money goes, it will go to the Qapital FDIC savings account for that specific goal. Simple as that. Easy to set up and it actually makes saving kind of fun.
I know the dreaded “b” word. But hey, it’s my job. However, the You Need a Budget App is actually really nice and very easy to use. While there is a cost to this one, it’s relatively inexpensive, and you get the first 34 days free. The cost is more than worth the value the app provides.
So how does it all work? It’s best to start immediately after your paycheck has been deposited to your checking account. You can always start earlier, but it will be more meaningful once money is in the account.
Once you’ve connected your accounts, it’s now time to start assigning budget amounts to your “Jobs.” Jobs are basically just budget line items. They’ve got plenty to choose from, but you can create your own as well. Once you have budgeted the amounts for all your jobs, you now know what you can spend for each category.
You can also budget for “Goals" that are larger expenses down the road, i.e., Christmas, new car, etc. The app will automatically determine how much you need to save every month for each goal.
Your budget isn’t locked in, and you can always make changes as well. Plus, what’s really cool is you can “Age Your Money.” Meaning, your goal is to start spending money today that you’ve earned at least a month ago. In other words, no more living paycheck to paycheck.
Acorns is certainly one that has been around for a while, and you may have heard of, but it’s just so cool that it had to make the list. Briefly, it allows you to automatically invest your spare change.
Similar to Qapital above, Acorns actually allows you to invest your spare change and not just put it in a savings account. You can’t go wrong with either. It really just depends on how much risk you’re willing to take with this money and what your time horizon is for the goal.
If you’re willing to take a little risk and your goal is a few years down the road, then Acorns makes saving truly a breeze. All you have to do is connect your card (s), make purchases, and invest the change.
After signing up, you’ll have a lot of options, allowing you to save more than just rounding up. You can set up a multiplier on your roundups, set a specific dollar amount a month to save, and a couple of other options to get the ball rolling. With the number of transactions we see with gift purchases this time of the year, there’s no better time to get signed up for Acorns.
We’re going to switch it up here a little bit with this financial app. We’re now going to show you how to save money on things you’re going to be purchasing. Whether you use Retail Me Not on your phone or your computer, it’s pretty darn awesome.
I love it because it’s always working for me behind the scenes. I don’t always have to remember to search for coupons when I’m at a store and making a purchase because it will do it for me automatically. Since it’s the time of year for giving, why not try out Retail Me Not to see if you can save a few bucks on your great gifts.
These three financial apps (and even others) allow you to send money back and forth between other people’s accounts with absolutely no charge. I have all three because I never know which one my friend or colleague uses, but each one is very easy to set up and to use.
Now, you never have to forget about paying someone back when you go to that group dinner or, more importantly, when you’re going to get paid back from someone else. These financial apps make carrying cash almost a thing of the past (although I still recommend it).
Regardless, life is much easier when you know you can pay someone immediately or get paid immediately. Check out one or all three and be the envy of your friends next time you go out for dinner.