Essential Apps for Your Financial Toolkit

Money management can be tricky, but it’s much easier in 2020 with the wide variety of personal finance apps that are available. With just a few swipes on your smartphone, you can view your portfolio, track your bills and maintain your budget while on-the-go.

Ultimately, the best applications for you will vary depending on your financial needs and goals, as well as your tech-savviness! We’ve collected a few of our favorites and sorted them based on financial need and function. Get started by taking a few (or all) of these tools for a test run. 

App Category Quick Links:

Make a Budget and Track Your Spending

Overall Budgeting

Mint (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Mint is the Swiss army knife of personal finance apps, but it’s best known for budgeting and expense tracking. Start by syncing your bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage, investment accounts, utility bills and more. Mint will then analyze your spending and saving history to show you where your cash is going. From there, you can create a budget, set savings goals, track transactions and set up bill alerts.

Connecting all of your accounts and setting up a budget within the app can take some time, but you’re given plenty of control over customizing your budget and categorizing expenses. Mint is free to use, but you will receive suggestions and advertisements for other financial products within the app.

Bill Payment

Prism (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Tracking monthly bills can be a hassle, but Prism can help by organizing all of your due dates and sending you reminders when it’s time to pay. Most importantly, it’s free to use!

Once you connect your bank account and your recurring bills, Prism syncs all your future payments on an easy-to-follow calendar. You also have the ability to pay bills directly through the app, truly making it a one-stop shop.

Save Money on Everyday Purchases and Recurring Expenses

Cash Back

Ibotta (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

If you’re already a savvy shopper, adding a cash-back app to your couponing and shopping practices can literally pay off. Ibotta is especially handy, as it provides cash back on both online and physical store purchases. Participating stores include major grocery store chains, clothing retailers, restaurants, convenience stores, travel websites and more. 

Each participating store has different requirements in order to cash in. Depending on where you’re shopping, you may be required to take a picture of your receipt with your phone, clip virtual coupons, shop on a retailer’s website using the Ibotta-specific link, or link your store loyalty account with the app. Ibotta doesn’t allow users to cash out until they’ve earned a $20 minimum, but they do offer earnings in the form of gift cards or cash. 

Subscription Slayer and Recurring Expenses Tracker

Truebill (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Have you ever signed up for a subscription and forgotten about it, only to be surprised by unexpected charges later? Truebill can review your transactions and highlight recurring payments, which allows you to then cancel the ones you don’t need. 

If you’re using the free version, you’ll have to manually cancel your own subscriptions. Truebill keeps a long list of services with instructions on how to cancel each one on your own. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can pay $3 to $12 a month for Truebill Premium and have them cancel subscriptions on your behalf.

Another neat service that Truebill offers to both free and premium users is bill negotiation. If they’re successful in getting you a better deal, they’ll charge 40% of your first year’s savings. 

Monitor Your Financial Health

Credit Reporting

Credit Karma (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Many of the apps on our list, as well as the apps for most major banks, already include a credit reporting feature. If you’re looking for a separate credit tracking app that can also give you suggestions on how to improve your score, Credit Karma is definitely worth exploring. 

It’s important to note that Credit Karma’s scores may vary from your actual credit score, as their reporting is based on only two of the three major credit bureaus. For more information on how your credit score is calculated, check out our blog on credit repair.

There are still major upsides; Credit Karma is free to use, and using it doesn’t affect your credit score. It’s especially helpful for tracking your credit over time and catching any inaccuracies that may pop up.

Invest Your Money To Make It Grow

There are many ways to invest outside of your retirement plan. The best approach for you will depend on your level of risk aversion and how hands-on you prefer to be with your money. Choose the statement below that matches your views to see which app best fits your investment style:

“I want to set it, forget it and not notice it!”

Spare Change Investing

Acorns (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

While this app has grown since launching in 2014, Acorns is still best known for its spare change investing program. You can start by selecting a pre-built portfolio to invest in, and then connect your account to a debit or credit card. Every purchase you make on that card is then rounded up to the nearest dollar; Acorns takes the “spare change” and automatically invests it for you. 

If you’re interested in this passive way to invest, you can get started as a Lite user for $1 a month. Additional services, including a checking account, retirement account and investing accounts for kids come with the Personal ($3 a month) and Family ($5 a month) plans. 

“I want more comprehensive help without paying for an advisor.”

Simplified Investing

Betterment (Apple App Store) (Google Play

If you don’t have time to manage your investments, don’t have much money to start with or don’t know where to start, Betterment can help. Betterment is well known as the first online investment platform, also commonly known as a “robo-advisor.” They offer full-service investment management at a fraction of the cost of working with an in-person advisor.

When starting with Betterment, you’ll answer a series of questions about your risk tolerance and financial goals. Betterment then automatically invests your money into index funds that match with your needs, and they’ll continue to manage your portfolio on your behalf.

Betterment takes a small fee based on your account balance; if you’re using the basic Digital plan, it’s 0.25% of your annual balance. There’s a Premium version for those with a $100,000+ balance. You can also pay separately for one-on-one consultations with their licensed financial experts.

“I want to roll up my sleeves and trade stocks on my own!”

Online Stock Brokerage

Robinhood (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

If you’re craving control over your investments and want to learn more about trading your own stocks, Robinhood is a great place to begin. This online stock brokerage allows you to invest in stocks, options and funds. There’s no minimum balance required, and users can get started with $1.

Robinhood has a hefty self-service support center and a virtual library that can help you get started. One important caveat to keep in mind is that their one-on-one customer support options are limited. 

Useful for All Investors

Financial News

CNBC: Stock Market and Business (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

If you’re looking for the latest financial news without having to pay for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, CNBC’s financial news app is a great place to start. Users can view market data, track their stocks and receive breaking news notifications. It also serves as a CNBC story hub, allowing users to catch up on the latest through news articles, podcasts, video clips and live TV. Those who pay for the PRO edition of the app receive additional content, including live global market coverage.

Transfer Money and Share Expenses

Cash Transferring

PayPal (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Venmo (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Cash App (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

With fewer Americans carrying cash and writing checks, cash transfer apps have quickly become a favored way to pay rent, split checks, deliver allowances, make small business purchases and more. If you have two or three installed and ready to use, like Cash App, Venmo and PayPal, you should be able to cover most instances when you can’t conduct a physical exchange.

Sharing or Splitting Bills

Splitwise (Apple App Store) (Google Play)

Splitting costs with friends can be challenging, especially when you’re paying for group travel, breaking down rent and utilities, or taking turns covering the check during a night out on the town. Splitwise allows users to track and organize expenses easily while eliminating the awkwardness of complicated “IOU”s. Notable features include the ability to split by custom percentages, create repeatable bills and pay back seamlessly through Venmo and PayPal integration. 

The free version of Splitwise is packed with features, but those who choose Splitwise Pro get extra cloud storage and the ability to convert expenses to different currencies.

Financial Apps: Monetary Control On-The-Go

Downloading financial apps on your phone allows you to have more frequent and precise control of your money. Apps not only provide you with fast access to what you have, what you’re paying and what you owe, but they can also give you a better understanding of finances nationwide and globally.

There are many more financial apps available beyond what we’ve covered – these are just a few of our favorites! If you’re looking for a specific money-related tool to fit your needs, try using the search feature in the Apple App Store or Google Play to explore your options.