As the new year approaches, it’s a good idea to evaluate your financial health and set some achievable goals for the future. One of the things that always seems to be at the top of everyone’s list is creating a budget they can actually stick to throughout the year (and not just the month of January). Luckily, there are a number of great financial services on the market that can help you create a manageable budget, set goals, save, invest those savings and lower your bills. We’ve rounded up 5 of the best:
Mint is generally regarded as one of the best apps for budgeting and tracking spending. It lets you link all of your accounts and bills, so everything is in one place, at-a-glance. The app categorizes your expenses and helps you easily create a budget you can stick to. It will notify you when bills are due, what you owe and what you can afford based on your balance. It also offers financial advice for maximizing your money each day and provides credit score updates in real time. Cost: free.
2. YNAB (You Need a Budget)
This app aims to help improve cash flow while allowing you to deal with financial problems that might arise, so you can stop living paycheck to paycheck and spend less than you earn. It keeps track of your expenses and income in a user-friendly way to help you manage finances and prioritize spending. It helps create short- and long-term goals and itemizes your spending into customizable categories. It provides resources to help with successful budgeting, such as one-on-one coaching, instructional videos, podcasts and chats. YNAB claims that new budgeters save an average of over $8,000 per year! Reviewers say it is well worth the fee, but recommend trying it out first. Cost: $83.99 after one-month free trial.
Acorn is a great app for saving money that requires very little effort on your part because it essentially invests your spare change. Simply connect any credit cards you use to the app and every time you make a purchase, Acorn will round up to the next highest dollar and invest the leftover change in funds of your choosing. You can set it up so investments happen automatically to save you money without even noticing. The app also helps you save for retirement with Acorns Later and offers a spending option. Cost: $1/month for Invest, $2/month for Invest + Later, $3/month for Invest + Later + Spend.
Robinhood is unique investing app offering commission-free trading, including Bitcoin. It gives you more ways to make your money work harder, as you can invest in thousands of stocks with as little as $1 and build a balanced portfolio to help reduce risk. Transactions are free for stocks, ETFs, options and ADRs and there are no commissions or maintenance fees. This app is perfect for the new investor. Cost: free.
Once you are set with a budget and investment plan, you will be ready to tackle your bills. Most people spend much more than they should on daily household expenses, such as phone, internet and cable without even realizing it. Pricing changes constantly, yet it’s usually the new subscribers who get the best deals and it’s impossible to keep track. That’s where Billshark comes in. Billshark knows exactly how to get you the very best prices around and makes sure you aren’t stuck with unnecessary subscriptions. We do the calling and negotiating for you to get you the best rates and you only pay us once we save you money. Cost: 40% of your savings.
Start the year off right by taking control of your finances and getting the most out of your money for years to come!