12 Free Apps to Help Your Budget

Smart phones are increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives. In 2016 people downloaded 17.2 billion apps worldwide. That’s about 47 million apps a day! With all these apps that help us communicate, share, create, and play there should be apps that help us save. Fortunately there are many apps designed to help people save, invest, and become more savvy shoppers. Here are 12 free apps to help you with your budget:

Savings and Investments:

  1. Acorns – Ever heard “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”? That is the concept behind Acorns. This app helps you build an investment portfolio by starting small. Like most investment apps, you are welcome to set up recurring deposits, but the art of Acorns comes from small investments. The program takes every purchase you make and rounds up to the nearest dollar. That round up is then invested. It is just a couple of cents out of each transaction – money you probably do not even think about – and puts it to work. You can set it up to automatically withdraw those cents from your account. You are able to diversify your investments based your level of risk comfort. Acorn is free with a student (.edu) email address, or $1 a month for non-student users with an account balance of under $5,000.
  2. Mint – This little app helps keep track of all your accounts (checking, savings, retirement, etc.) Each transaction you make is recorded and categorized then the app creates a budget based on your spending habits. It also comes with password protection and a site that will allow you to deactivate access if your phone is lost or compromised.
  3. Qapital – This savings app gives you full, rule-setting control. You tell the app how and when you want to set aside money (daily, weekly, monthly, or by the round up rule – which is similar to Acorns’). Qapital has even more fun ways to save. Putting that phrase “if I had a quarter for every time…” into reality, you can save every time you tweet, or for every rainy-day that shows up in your weather app. When you are ready to cash out for your goals, the money is directly deposited back into your account for your use.
  4. Tip Yourself – This app combines social media, savings, and building good habits. Whenever you want you transfer small amounts of money (think $1-5) to your secured “Tip Jar.” The app encourages you to add a reason for the tip, and lets you connect with your friends and fellow “tippers.” This can help you stay motivated to start good habits – like paying yourself $2 every time you work out or anything else you need to do. This app allows you to slowly save and creates positive reinforcement for do the things you might not want to do, but need to.

Shopping:

  1. Ibotta – This app helps you earn real money for shopping. Ibotta has galleries of offers from 50 retail partners. After completing a “task” (for example watching a video) and buying the item, money is transferred to your PayPal account or turned into gift cards. This is by no means a source of income, but it is a good way to get some money back for shopping on things you already need – like toiletries, food, and more.
  2. RetailMeNot – Another app (and a website) to help you save when shopping. They offer thousands of coupons to thousands of stores, including big name companies like Amazon, Kohls, Bath and Body Works. Shopping deals are very easy to access, just type in where you are shopping and explore the deals. The app also offers a saving map with all the local deals listed. You can even set up alerts.
  3. SnipSnap – Just like RetailMeNot, SnipSnap is a coupon app. However, this app allows you to take physical coupons and make them mobile ready. Just snap a picture of the coupon and you’re ready to go. Also this app includes a social aspect that allows you to use coupons your friends “snipped.”
  4. Target Cartwheel – If you shop at Target this is an app for you. Target Cartwheel allows you to scan the bar code of every item you want to buy. It searches for in-store discounts and gives you a code for the cashier to scan when you are at the checkout. Voila savings! You can use this app for manufacturer and Target coupons.

Groceries:

  1. Checkout 51 – Checkout 51 is the Ibotta of grocery apps. Simply pick the offers you want to use and shop like usual. After you have made your purchases, send a picture of your receipt and get money pack. The good thing is if you have discounts on both Checkout 51 and Ibotta for the same/ similar items you claim both rewards.
  2. CouponSherpa – This app is a way to store all your store and restaurant coupons. These are coupons that can be used in the store, not just a code for online shopping. You no longer have to sign up for newsletters or worry about leaving coupons at home. Like RetailMeNot, you can search the store you are shopping to find more coupons.
  3. KeyRing – I really enjoy this app but I have way too many loyalty cards! I can never remember which stores I “belong” to if I do not carry them around, or they clutter my keys and wallet. This app helps you keep track of all your store cards, and gift cards. Simply enter the details of your loyalty cards – or scan the barcode, and it will enter the information for you. The cashier can scan it from your phone. The app also asks you to take pictures of your cards just to make sure there will be no issues at the store.
  4. Savings Star – This is a digital coupon app for grocery, drug, and hardware stores. Savings Star is linked to your loyalty cards – and yes, you need to have one for each store you want to get rewards for – and then you chose the coupon you want to use. Once you reach $5 in savings you get cash rewards. The really cool feature for this app is you can donate some/all of your cash rewards to the American Forest Charity.

Apps are becoming a great resource to help make life easier. These apps are just a few of the apps out there to help manage your money and find savings on essential items. They help drive home the message that you use your daily habits to help you save and that stores are always competing for your business, you just need to take advantage of the savings they offer you. Now everything can be at the touch of a button. Happy saving!

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