Staying Organized: The Best Apps for Money Management
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When all you have is a debit card, checking how much you’re spending and how much money you have left is easy. Your bank account balance almost immediately reflects your transactions in one place. But when you add credit cards into the mix — as you should, as soon as you’re able to use them responsibly — things get a little more complicated. Your bank account balance might read $1,000, but if your credit cards have balances of $600 on them, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have more money than you actually do. Throw in balances in apps like Venmo, Apple Pay Cash or even savings in Robinhood or Acorns, and things get even more convoluted.
But fear not! There are several good ways of helping keep track of your assets and liabilities, or your net worth. Here are a few to help keep your spending in order.
Mint is one of the most popular spending apps. Everything is laid out neatly both in the app and the desktop version. Like most other money-organizing apps, Mint keeps track of your account balances by linking all your credit cards, your bank accounts and/or Venmo, loans, investments and even property. At any given time, you can check Mint and see exactly how much money you have across all your accounts
Mint allows you to personally categorize your transactions across all your accounts to better paint a picture of your spending habits, whereas your credit card statement might only sort transactions into a handful of less-specific categories. This feature also helps when sorting Venmo transactions, as you can differentiate between the $50 you earned helping your friend move and the $50 you were reimbursed after paying for lunch.
From a credit score perspective, Mint helps you stay on top of everything from the factors affecting your score to your outstanding bills, their due dates and your total available credit. The service also advertises cards that fit your credit profile and spending habits.
One of Mint’s most useful features is the budgeting tool. You can use the same categories that filter transactions to create a specific monthly budget. Mint will send you notifications if you go over your budget in certain categories, and it’s easy to log in and see your progress. There’s also a goals feature, which allows you to set specific savings goals and track the progress you’ve made.
PocketGuard is very similar to Mint, offering both an app and a desktop service to help you keep on top of your spending, net worth, budget and goals. While PocketGuard isn’t as well laid-out as Mint, you still can categorize your transactions any way you’d like, and the app will help you stay within your budget by sending notifications and providing visuals to show you how much you’re spending overall and within each category.
On the downside, PocketGuard doesn’t show your credit score and lacks some basic functionality. While it’s still a good option for finding your net worth and keeping track of your spending, there’s nothing that PocketGuard offers that you can’t get using Mint.
Cost: Free (a PocketGuard Plus version with additional features like pocket cash tracking is available for $3.99 a month or $34.99 a year).
Unlike Mint and PocketGuard, Albert is an app with no desktop version. Albert acts somewhat as a personal financial assistant, sending you texts and notifications about your spending habits, budget and bills.
Like with PocketGuard and Mint, you can sort your transactions into customizable categories to help you better budget and track spending. You can easily find your net worth, and the app creates an “Albert Score” to show you how well you’re meeting your budgeting goals.
Albert places a particular emphasis on saving, encouraging you to put aside money in a rainy day fund by automatically depositing set amounts of cash into a savings account on a regular basis.
Cost: Free (Genius membership, which gets you access to personalized advice from a team of financial experts, is available for a small monthly fee that you decide upon sign-up).
Like Albert, Prism is just an app, with no desktop version. It also focuses on keeping you up to date with you bills, making sure you know what you’ve paid and when you have to pay. Prism links your credit card accounts and/or loan accounts, as well as your checking account so that you can pay directly through the app. Prism also lets you add your payday, to better help you figure out how much money you have left to spend. Unfortunately, you can’t link your Venmo account to Prism, so you’ll have to factor that in separately.
Prism certainly won’t wow you in terms of across-the-board functionality, but for those who value simplicity and a way to simply stay on top of their bills, it goes a long way and can be extremely helpful.
If using an app seems like too much of a bother, or if you’d rather track your expenses by yourself, it’s easy to create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets that keeps track of your net worth.
Creating a spreadsheet is relatively simple. All you have to do is make columns for all of your assets and liabilities, and then create a simple algorithm that calculates the difference. You’ll have to update the information yourself, and it doesn’t have a built-in budgeting feature, but it’s a simple way of making sure you know your net worth.
There are several options out there for helping you manage your money, whether you’re a college kid with a tight budget or a professional with a yearly salary. While some of these apps have paid add-ons, they can all be used without spending a dime.
Having a credit card can often be daunting, as keeping track of your expenses is no long as easy as just checking your bank account app. Don’t get bogged down or intimidated, and don’t succumb to accidentally spending more than you can pay back. Using any one of these apps to organize and track your spending will undoubtedly help you stay on top the game.
Featured photo by Raw Pixel/Unsplash
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