Confession: I only look at my bank account once a month. I know, I know, I should be checking my balance daily, but I have to admit, I find managing my money extremely intimidating. Looking back at some of my recent money-related Google searches revealed just how much I had to tackle: What's a realistic percentage to save out of each paycheck? Should I be contributing to a 401k or an IRA? How much money do you need to start investing? Feeling motivated to finally answer these questions, I resolved to confront my financial fears in the interest of building a savings account. Because, as much as looking at my money scares me, the reality that it could run out one day is utterly terrifying.
As it turns out, I'm not the only one afraid of my bank account's balance. According to Clique Intelligence's Unapologetic Woman Study, "Not having enough money for the future is the #1 concern among both millennial and Gen Z women." Because simply tossing my spare change into a basket isn't going to cut it, I've been testing out pretty much every money-management app on the market to finally take control of my finances. Whether you're looking to trim unwanted subscriptions from your monthly budget or save up for a trip to Italy, apps are an affordable alternative to finding a financial adviser, which can be pretty pricey.
If you're feeling motivated to delve into your spending habits, you're going to want to keep scrolling. After some trial and error, I've discovered that these are the best money-saving apps, hands down.
The bottom line: Digit turns saving money into a mindless task. How it works is really simple: The app observes your spending habits and then automatically moves money from your checking account into you Digit account once it determines what you can afford. Deemed "the automated savings plan we've been waiting for" by Verge, it's a must-download for anyone daydreaming about lying on a beach in Hawaii right now.
iTunes store rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (with over 15K ratings)
Why users love it: "I have never been good at saving money until I found Digit! Now I am saving buckets of money and I never miss it! I don't know how they know when and how much to take out but it never takes our [sic] too much. I check my balance once in a while and I'm agog at how much I have!" — @seacone1
The fine print: After a free trial period, a monthly subscription will set you back $3.
The bottom line: Mint makes it easy to get a complete picture of your finances. The free money management app pulls in info from your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and investments, making it easy to know where you stand at all times. If just the idea of creating a budget seems intimidating, you need to download this money-saving app stat.
iTunes store rating: 4.7 stars out of 5 (with over 284K ratings)
Why users love it: "This is the only app I use for finances and it's all I need! This has helped me to be on top of budgets, account balances, bills, and my credit score. This app would be great for anyone, even if you are starting out with your first savings account." — @habloespanol
The bottom line: "Imagine if you could invest in your future without really noticing," reads the bold print on Acorns' website. The easy-to-use app helps you do exactly that by investing your spare change. If you think you don't have enough money to be investing, this is the money-making app for you.
iTunes store rating: 4.7 stars out of 5 (with over 201K ratings)
Why users love it: "I like Acorns because I can turn the investments on and off with the flip of a switch on the app. I can add more to my account anytime I want AND (the best part!) if/when I fall on hard times, I can draw whatever of my funds I need." — @MippyMooMoo
The fine print: Acorns offers tiered subscription pricing at $1, $2, or $3 a month, depending on which service you choose.
The bottom line: Like Mint, Clarity Money gives you a complete view of your finances, but in addition to helping you manage your expenses and track your spending, this app will help you do things like canceling that gym membership you haven't been using or find credit cards with rewards that are ideal for your spending habits. If you're serious about managing your spending, this app will be your go-to tool for taking control of your finances.
iTunes store rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (with over 17.6K ratings)
Why users love it: "I love this app. It provides such a good breakdown of your spending and where your money goes. There is not a whole lot you have to do; Clarity Money analyzes your spending for you and every transaction you make into different categories such as bills, travel, shopping, etc." — @cbarfield1789
The bottom line: Empower's mission is to help you understand your money better so you can keep track of where your money goes, pay off your debt, and grow your wealth. If your goal is achieving financial freedom, you need this money-saving app in your life.
iTunes store rating: 4.8 stars out of 5 (with over 2.12K ratings)
Why users love it: "I love being able to look at my savings and checking account at the same time. Everything you need is all on the main screen so there's no unnecessary scrolling through multiple pages." — @Mechbi
The fine print: Empower is free to use. If you want additional features, the app also has a premium offering for $3.99 a month.
Ed. note: Reviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Up next, is the "average retirement savings by age" approach outdated for millennials?