We hear and read and see so much about how to maximize your savings and optimize your budget. There are probably hundreds of savings/spending/tracking apps out there and new ones are coming out every day. There are so many tools out now to help you curb your spending, save more, and pay down debt.
So why is it still so hard?
One of the first things I have you do before you meet with me is take the Money Personality Quiz to figure out what your Money Personality is. Every money tool in the book won’t help you if you don’t understand your relationship with money. In fact, depending on your money personality, using certain money tools might turn you off from budgeting completely.
If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, take it now. Then come back and see how your money personality feels about budgeting and some apps you should check out based on your money personality:
AVOIDER on a Budget: What budget? You just know how much you have in your bank account – you keep track in your head. Except for that one time you overdrafted because you forgot a check was being cashed. Or that other time when you forgot you bought that one thing right before buying the thing you were actually planning to buy. Or maybe you just never know and cross your fingers. Either way, you’re often in the dark about where your money is and was, and you’re totally okay with that. Except maybe for this nagging sense of anxiety in the back of your head that you are maybe missing something…
MONEY MONK on a Budget: Isn’t a budget just spend what you have when you have it? When times are good, you spend more, when times are tough, you spend less. You have no problem cutting back or doing without sometimes and your spending habits just change with the amount of money in your bank account. It only bothers you a little that you don’t really have a savings cushion because things always feel like they work out one way or another anyhow. And when it doesn’t work out, you still somehow find a way to carry on.
WORRIER on a Budget: Whether you’re tracking or not tracking your finances, you’re worried about them. Are you saving enough, should you have spent money on this or that? You’re constantly thinking about it and wondering if you have enough. It’s so stressful, but you can’t get your mind off of it. If you’re on something like mint.com, you’re not just on mint.com, you’re ALL OVER mint.com. No matter what you use to do it, you are tracking your money as closely as you possibly can, and it still doesn’t give you much peace of mind.
AMASSER on a Budget: Usually, your solution for budgeting is to make enough money so you don’t have to worry about budgeting. Of course, in all practicality, you know that while you’re making money, you also better know what’s going out. You don’t count pennies like the Saver and you’re not a big Spender, but you pay attention to what your money is doing and what it’s doing for you. If you are tracking your spending, it’s done in large strokes and you like to see the big picture. You don’t worry too much about buying a latte every day, but you always have a solid awareness of where your money is at all times.
So now what? Here are a list of recommended apps with the recommended money personality. Feel free to check them all out, but don’t feel compelled to use them all. Pick the one that best suits you personality!
Mint.com – for the Worrier: You’re probably already on it, let’s be honest. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s definitely a Worrier’s nerd dream. You love how you can link all your bank accounts and credit cards and every transaction can be categorized, labeled, and charted. Nothing slips through the cracks as long as you look at it on a regular basis.
Digit.co – for the Avoider or Money Monk: Need to sneak some savings into your life? This is an awesome app for you. You link a checking account to a Digit.co savings account (one is created for you when you sign up). Then, Digit analyzes your current spending patterns, bills that need to be paid, and income going in, and quietly takes out small chunks of money (usually I’ve seen between $5 and $40) and deposits them into a Digit savings account. They will also send you daily text alerts on your current account balance and when big deposits have cleared.
Qapital – for the Amasser: Wish you could save $5 every time you bought something? How about rounding up $1 or $2 for every purchase? Or challenging yourself to spend under a certain amount each week and having the rest get swept into a savings account? With Qapital, you can set all of these triggers up automatically. A tool like Qapital allows you to save based on your everyday habits. You can even tell your bank account to save every time the weather calls for rain or when you check something off on your to-do list.
Acorns – for the Investor in all of us: If you have always thought about investing, but always felt like it was too expensive or didn’t feel like you had enough money to do it, Acorns has a solution for you. Similar to Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program I keep hearing about from my clients who bank with BofA, Acorns rounds up on all your purchases (i.e. $1.18 purchase means Acorns rounds up to $2 and keeps $0.82), but instead of just holding it in a savings account earning almost nothing, Acorns invests it in the market! Your investment portfolio is set based on how risky you want it to be (you answer a series of questions to help you decide) and the fees to invest are extremely low.