There may be no quick fix to digging out of debt or saving for that next big purchase, but there can be an overwhelming number of tech options that claim to help you meet your goal. So how do you pick the right one?
Operation Homefront Caseworker Tonya Cooper, an accredited financial counselor, agrees that apps can be a big help. There are just a couple words of caution, however.
First, users must determine for themselves if they are O.K. with the kind of information apps gather and request. For example, store apps like target Cartwheel can give great discounts and coupons at the store but it also logs all that information.
Second, keep to your list when it comes to coupon apps, or even the old-fashioned paper version. “When it comes to coupons, I never advocate buying something just because it has a coupon unless you were going to buy it anyway because you can actually end up spending more money,” she said.
And finally, do some research. Read reviews. Look at trusted sources that regularly put out “best of” lists relating to finances, like Forbes.com and Consumer Reports.
To help get you started, here are some finance-related apps that repeatedly make it to the top of the list. Keep in mind, Operation Homefront is not endorsing any particular app, we are just giving some examples. Some other places to look include Forbes, NerdWallet, and Cnet.
Mint is one of the most well-known budget apps available. After linking to your bank accounts, credit cards and loans, Mint helps create budgets, track your money, and includes your credit score. The app also suggests budgets and shows what the user can save in various categories like “food and entertainment.”
You Need A Budget(YNAB)
One of the drawbacks of YNAB is it’s only free for a 34-day trial. After that, it costs $84 a year. But that price gets you software that works on all devices, not just your phone. It’s also one of the most robust budgeting apps. The app tells you to give every dollar a job, know your expenses, pick a goal, adjust to stay within budget (just in case you overspend in a category), and “age your money,” which means you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.
A rebate app, ibotta will give you money back for things you buy. A user can even scan a receipt and see if the app gives anything back on the items listed. The rebates are in the form of a credit in the app. This is one of those apps that Tonya advises needs to be used with caution. Only buy items you planned to buy anyway.
Store Loyalty Programs
Many stores—department stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.—have long tried to lure customers by rewarding loyalty. If you know you regularly go to one store, check out whether the store has a loyalty program.