Since I was in college, every year for my birthday I make a series of life goals—things I want to achieve, certain markers for my own self-defined success for the next 12 months. Inevitably, some of those goals include money: paying off a credit card, saving for a big trip, building a nest egg, a safety net, or meeting my maximum IRA contributions.

Working in the gig economy and running my own independent business has its financial ups and downs. But as my birthday approaches (I’m a scorpio, hey), I’m already working on what next year’s goals are and if I met my goals last year (kind of, sort of).

5 Personal Finance Apps to Help You Save More Money


Acorns
acorns.com

A friend recommended the Acorns investing app to me last year. Mostly because every person you refer to the app gets you an immediate $5 bonus (and $5 for them). It’s a nifty little trick to get sign-ups, but the app goes further because each month it sets bonus goals for referrals. Things like: get 3 friends to sign up, and you’ll get a $150 bonus!

Those money savings with the Acorns app, though, don’t stop when you sign up. There are hundreds of “found money” offers in the app which provide additional bonuses when online shopping. Examples include: get $10 when you book with HotelTonight, get $20 invested when you book with Rosetta Stone, $10 invested with Hulu, etc.

All my favorite brands are available and it’s a quick & easy way to make some bonus cash—plus put money away in savings. Because the app also allows you to sync with your credit cards and checking accounts to invest your spare change through round-ups.

All the money made through your Acorns investment app savings, plus what you invest, goes into an investment account you can set up through your personal settings and the in-app recommendations. It’s a useful app for beginner investors and a quick & easy way to make some immediate savings.


Credit Karma
creditkarma.com

I signed up for Credit Karma when I moved to New York City because I needed a quick & easy credit report. But after downloading the personal finance app, I quickly got interested in all the in-app features. Besides having access to my credit reports from Equifax and Transunion, there’s a lot of really useful information.

The best savings tips I’ve gotten from the Credit Karma app are the credit card offer suggestions. The app uses your credit history to give you an estimate on your approval odds for different rewards credit cards, all while making it clear and easy to understand all the reward options.

I don’t know about you, but I love getting credit card rewards points, but I still struggle to find which credit card is best for me. There is always so much fine print and confusing terms, but the Credit Karma app simplifies it all and breaks down the bonuses and annual fees.

The app also provides personalized tips on how to manage your finances based on your credit history.


Robinhood
robinhood.com

Again, this personal finance app showed up on my radar on the recommendation of a friend. Because every person you refer to the app gets a free stock for trading—and big stocks like Apple, Tesla, or Microsoft are all possibilities! (And of course the referrer gets a free stock, too!)

For any young, beginner investor, Robinhood is a great app. Not only does it make investing in the stock market (and even cryptocurrencies) very easy, it provides a lot of in-app information and tools to better understand how to invest. Individual trades are free within the app and there’s a lot of easy-to-digest articles available.

Because it’s free to trade within the app, it’s great for beginners who aren’t afraid to play around with the stock market with a bit of cash—a quick & easy way to learn the ropes, make some mistakes, and maybe get lucky!


Mint
mint.com

There are a lot of budgeting apps out there and I’ve tried a bunch of them. Some are better for couples, others are best for detailed-oriented people, and some are just easy. Mint, for me, was the easiest to set up and use.

Owned by the same people as TurboTax (which I used for my taxes last year), Mint can easily incorporate all your assets and personal finance accounts into the budgeting system. It didn’t work for my international accounts from when I lived in Germany, but the internal list of U.S. banks and accounts makes it really straightforward to use for Americans.

Budgeting your personal finances is probably the #1 thing you can do to save money. You’ve got to be aware of how and where your cash goes before you can learn the best ways to save for the future. And Mint makes it really easy.


QuickBooks Self-Employed
intuit.com/self-employed

For those of us that are self-employed and/or working in the gig economy, this app makes life a little simpler. There are a lot of us working in the gig economy, whether it’s driving for Lyft & Uber, renting on Airbnb, or doing contract freelance work. One recent report from Forbes says 57 million Americans, or 37% of the workforce, work in the gig economy.

I don’t know about you, but my biggest challenge running my own small business has been managing my business income & expenses, dealing with my business taxes, and running the day-to-day finances. It’s not easy.

So last year when I filed my taxes, I did some research and discovered the QuickBooks Self Employed app. It can sync to your bank accounts and credit cards and automatically categorize your business expenses made to those cards. You can also individually go in to sort & label any of your business income and expenses. It’s been a huge lifesaver, saving my time in the sorting of all my business receipts.


Saving money isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. With our technology and app boom, there are a lot of great services and tools out there which have made saving and budgeting easier for all of us.

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