If saving money feels overwhelming, you have options to help you kick-start the chore.
There are growing number of apps that help people save money regardless of their starting point. These apps require only a checking account and a smartphone.
Each app has its own style, but at their core, they are designed to inspire you to get into the rhythm of saving without overthinking it, at a time when millions of Americans don’t have much savings, if any.
Here are five saving apps that help you easily set aside your digital spare change. These apps connect to your bank account to move small amounts of money into savings that add up over time. Think of them as do-good thieves.
Keep in mind, you will need to share your bank data with them, so review the terms and conditions. Also, make sure your checking account has a balance buffer greater than a few bucks; you don’t want to risk an accidental overdraft.
Some financial institutions, like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, and some challenger banks, like Chime and Varo Money, also offer customers novel ways to save spare change. But the following apps will work regardless of where you bank and are available for download on iOS or Android.
Launched in 2015, Digit is one of the most well-known automated savings apps around and for good reason: The service makes savings decisions simple. Digit analyzes what goes into and out of your checking account. Then, it periodically moves funds from checking to savings in amounts its algorithms believe are safe to save.
Digit says the average user saves $2,200 per year.
The app is not free, however. Since July, Digit has been charging new subscribers $5 a month. For that fee, you’ll get the auto-savings feature and the ability to use the app to pay down credit card debt and establish savings goals. You can earn a 1 percent annual savings bonus that Digit will pay every three months – a perk that can help offset some of the subscription cost.
If Digit determines you can’t spare any money, it won’t withdraw anything and backs it up with a “no overdraft guarantee.” Digit will refund up to two separate instances of your account overdraft that it caused. You can also opt in for overdraft prevention.
To move money back into your checking account, it will take one to three business days. If you need the funds right away, you can pay 99 cents to have the money sent back into your checking account within 30 minutes.
Your money is held at FDIC-insured banks, so you are protected up to $250,000.
Cost: Free for 30 days, then $5 per month.
Who should use this app: Those who identify as spenders, not savers, and like outsourcing decisions.
Dobot is another option that makes saving money regularly easier. After you link a checking account, Dobot will move small amounts from it into your savings account every few days.
One notable difference is Dobot’s owner, Fifth Third Bank. While you can use Dobot with a checking account from another bank, you will park your savings deposits at Fifth Third.
Standout features of the app include its price —free —and that it lets you assign photos to your goals. The visuals are designed to help you remember why you’re passing on instant gratification. The app will also send you messages on your progress and on savings tips.
If the service causes an overdraft, the app says it will cover the fees. You will not earn interest on your Dobot account, however.
Who should use this app: Anyone looking for a free way to start saving for things you care about most.
Qapital also aims to help you effortlessly save small amounts of money but with a twist: It lets users set up savings rules. For instance, you could set up a guilty pleasure rule so the app stashes money into your savings every time you buy takeout. Like some investment apps, Qapital can also round up your change on purchases and apply that money to your savings. If you use a debit card to buy a $3.50 latte, for example, the app withdraws 50 cents from your checking and moves it to your savings. You can also set a rule to make the roundups larger.
The app is often applauded for its visual goal-based approach. You can attach photos to your goals so that the portal serves as digital vision board for your money.
To use the app, you have a number of options: You can link an existing checking account or you can sign up for a Qapital debit card. You can also use Qapital to make investments in an ETF portfolio for your longer-term goals. What products you get depends on the plan you pay for.
Cost: Offers tiered-membership plans. The basic plan starts at $3 per month. You can get a 30-day free trial.
Why you want this app: Over-spenders who are motivated by visualizing their goals, but at the same time, enjoy establishing some ground rules.
4. Long Game
Long Game is trying to redirect some of the cash people spend on lottery tickets into savings. On the app, users who put money into savings get a chance to win extra money. It’s called prize-linked savings, and the more you save, the more chances you have to play games with a chance to win more cash. Don’t worry —the account is FDIC-insured, and you’re not playing with your principal.
You can also set up a rule on the app to save money on your payday.
Who should use this app: Those who like the thrill of a lottery and want savings to feel fun.
5. Tip Yourself
We’re already used to tipping the valet attendant and hair artists. Why not also recognize ourselves for a job well done?
The upbeat app encourages you to make small transfers from your checking account into savings, or tip jar, when you go to the gym or pass on an impulse buy or something else. All you need to do is push a button on the app to move the money. Then, your funds are parked at the startup’s bank partner, nbkc bank.
You can also raise the savings stakes by setting up a payday tip jar so that the app pulls money into your savings every time you get paid.
You will not earn interest. The app’s website encourages you to think of the use case as “a temporary stash of funds.”
Cost: Free or $9.99 per year for Tip Yourself Pro.
Who should use this app: Anyone who wants a simple way to save for short-term goals —bar chart and spreadsheet-oriented types need not download this app.
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