The following is presented for information purposes only.
These days there’s no shortage of tools to manage your money. And if you’re trying to stay on top of your finances, you’ll definitely want to use a money management app. In this roundup post, we’ll go over our top picks for the best free tools to tend to your moola, and what we love about them:
Reasons to Use a Money Management App
Money management apps go beyond simply serving as a ledger for your bank transactions. You can use a money management app to do the following:
- Keep track of your spending
- See a breakdown of your spending by category
- Save for goals
- Check your credit score
- See your net worth
- Glean insights on your spending habits and behaviors
- Read up on saving and investing tips
Founded in 2006, Intuit’s Mint is one of the earliest money management apps in existence. It’s a one-stop-shop where you can see your transactions from all your linked accounts, check how much you have sitting in your bank account, and review the state of your investments. You can also see what your cash flow was in an given month, and how much you spent based on categories. If you opt into to receive notifications, you’ll receive alerts on upcoming bills and unusual spending. Mint also features a free credit score, which are pulled from TransUnion.
One of the newest kids on the block, Clarity Money was founded in 2016 and recently acquired by Goldman Sachs. You can see how much income you’re raking in each month, how much cash and investments you have squirreled away, and the amount of debt on all your credit cards. And like Mint, you can check your credit score for free. (Note: Clarity receives credit information from Experian, so the credit score from another app, such as Mint, may be slightly different.)
Clarity has a nifty feature that shows you how much you’ve spent in the last few days. And for places you spend money at frequently, you can check how much you’ve spent at, say, Target in the past year, as well as a record of all your transactions. As Clarity Money is owned by Goldman Sachs, there’s also an option to set up a savings account and goals with Marcus by Goldman Sachs. It’s a $1 minimum to open an account, and the APY is 2.05%, which is higher than most banks.
Want to get granular about your budgeting? Then Wally has got you covered. The app enables you to compare your income against expenses, track your money, and set up and save for goals. You not only can break down your spending by categories, but also by broader categories (i.e., family, personal, work, social). Plus, you can store receipts for easy record-keeping.
One thing that’s a tad different from most money apps: Wally doesn’t sync up with financial institutions, so you’ll need to enter your bank info manually.
While Personal Capital is primarily known as a digital wealth management firm, it has a free money management tool. You can track spending and uncover hidden fees. Personal Capital is the granddaddy of investment-focused money management apps, so you can also manage your investment portfolios.
At-a-glance you’ll be able to see your net worth: assets, such as savings and investments minus your debt. There are a handful of nifty tools, such as the net worth tracker and retirement planner. What’s neat about Personal Capital is it’ll let you know if how much your portfolio has changed on a weekly basis.
A drawback is that once you sign up for its free financial software, you’ll typically receive marketing emails. So if you don’t want to be bombarded with such correspondence, create an account using a spam email account.
Okay, So There’s No Real Free Lunch
While you aren’t paying a subscription fee to use these apps, know that your aggregate data is being sold to third parties. That’s how many of these apps are making money. As they say, data is the new currency. And in this case, your personal information is one way many of these money management apps are able to provide you a service, free of charge.
That’s why you’ll see offers for credit cards and loans on your “Overview” page. If you’ve been working hard on paying off debt, you’ll want to ignore such promotions—lest you find yourself deeper in a debt hole.
Money management apps can help you see where your money is going, save for goals, and plan for your future. You most likely only need one as your go-to, so choose wisely. If you’d like help improving your financial situation, reach out to Money Management International (MMI). Our certified credit counselors are available around the clock.
Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based personal finance writer who is passionate about helping creatives with their finances. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Mental Floss, Business Insider, and GOOD. She blogs at heyfreelancer.com.