Top apps for managing finances

- Budgeting. Saving Money.  It's hard to do.  But, if there are ways to make it easier than let's do it.  Well, you know the saying, "There's an app for that."  It's true.  In this case, there are many apps for helping us to manage our finances.

Let's look at a few of them: Mint, LearnVest, PocketGuard and Wally.

These are separate apps that work very similarly. When connected to your accounts, like credit cards and checking, they help you to budget. They can track and pay your bills. You can get alerts that you've overspent on groceries. All of these break down your end-of-year spending.   These apps are free. Wally is app-only. The others have desktop access.

But, if you want lean and mean, try Fudget. No fancy graphics. You just input your budgeted figure then your expenses. This is how I would use this one. If I needed to tally expenses for a business trip I'd log them here, or just to keep track of how much I'm spending on vacation.

Also, here's another very simple, beginner budgeting app called Household Account Book. A big name for such a simple app.  Just plug in your monthly income. List one by one like an old-fashioned checking account register your expenses. Note what they are and keep track of your spending. The graphics are cute.

Home Budget Sync is also very similar to our first group, but its special feature is family sharing, so this is bigger and more robust. It syncs your budget and purchases for the whole family.  The simple version is free, but the more robust one is $4.99.

Here are three more that are altogether different:

1. Debitize. When you use your credit card it moves money from your checking, sets it aside then pays it to the credit card when payment is due. This is a big help in managing credit card charges. Basic service is free.

2. Acorns is an investment app. It rounds up your purchases on connected accounts then puts that change into an investment. There's more to it than this, but it's easy.  I started it in January just to see how this worked. I have almost $450 in there. It's not a windfall, but if I don't touch it until retirement, it gives me another $17,000. Money I made from spare change. But just like any investment, take it out early and you'll get dinged.

3. Unsplurge. It's very millennial. It helps you set a savings goal and join an online support community. Let's say you want to save for vacation. Put your savings goal in there. Here you can see others saving, too.  When you make a contribution, you'll see how close you are to meeting your goal. You can invite friends to join in.

There are so many great finance apps out there. I encourage you to try free ones first.  Then figure out what you need more or less of then hunt for that.

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