Here are a few things you may not realize about people who have come into money: They usually know exactly what their bank balance looks like at any given point, and their investment strategy may be simpler than you might think. They may turn to financial managers and wealth management firms to oversee their finances, but in 2019, there’s no shortage of robo-advisers and budgeting tools to manage your money on the cheap.
Whether you’re looking to start investing or test out a new budgeting tool, here are some apps to consider.
If you’re a woman who wants to dip your toe into investing, Ellevest is a good place to start. Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck started the platform to help close the gender gap in retirement savings. Even products that masquerade as “gender neutral” are usually designed with men in mind, according to Krawcheck. So Ellevest takes into account gender-based factors like life span and the wage gap, which impacts both how much women make and when their earnings plateau, as well as how women think about investing differently.
This is the robo-adviser you’ve probably heard of. As the biggest, most popular independent robo-adviser, Betterment can help you with goal-based investing and even includes the option of a socially responsible investing portfolio. For a higher price point, the platform also provides access to human financial advisers.
Then there’s Wealthfront, a rival product that initially positioned itself as an “engineer-driven” robo-adviser for Silicon Valley’s millennial techies. The platform can assist with college savings and now offers digital financial planning free of charge. Unlike Betterment, Wealthfront’s services are fully automated.
If Wealthfront and Betterment are affordable and targeted at younger folks, Personal Capital is for people who might characterize themselves as more comfortable–those who have at least $100,000 in the bank. Like Betterment, Personal Capital gives you a mix of automated services and human advisers, though its account management fees are steeper.
For people on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Acorns, which gives you the opportunity to start investing even if you have only a few dollars to spare. The app automatically rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change. That’s why Acorns’s target audience is students or young professionals who don’t have much in the bank–in fact, the platform waives fees for four years if you register with an .edu email address. As of last year, Acorns also offers individual retirement accounts.
Xero is a simple cloud-based accounting platform popular among small business owners. It’s accessible on your smartphone and plays nice with many other services, from point-of-sale systems to HR software. Xero makes it easy to track expenses and field invoices, whether you’re on your phone or laptop.
Keep tabs on your credit score with Credit Karma, which demystifies credit reports and can also monitor your credit for free to watch for identity theft in the event of a data breach. Remember that good credit can help you score good interest rates on credit cards or mortgages–and in the long run, save you money.
You may already be earning points for credit card purchases, but here’s another way to double up on those rewards. With Drop, you can accumulate points at retailers you frequent like Starbucks, or services like Uber–and then you can turn those points into gift cards to redeem with those brands.
If you’re a small business owner, TravelBank is a good way to manage business travel and track companywide expenses. But here’s a bonus: It also incentivizes your employees to book less expensive flights and hotels by rewarding them with money that can go toward services like Lyft or Airbnb.
Qapital started with the intent of wanting to gamify your finances by allowing you to monetize good behavior. (For example, you can set up Qapital such that you pay yourself for going to the gym.) Now Qapital also helps you start investing, set a budget, and automatically divvy up your paycheck.
It’s possible you’re already using Mint, though maybe you’ve been neglecting your budget alerts. The budgeting tool is one of the most popular options on the market, allowing you to track all of your money across accounts and set target budgets. Mint automatically divides your expenses into categories like “restaurants” and “shopping” and so on.
You Need a Budget
This is a more detailed budgeting option if you’re willing to part with a few dollars each month and want to effectively build a personalized budgeting spreadsheet. For a $7 monthly fee, you gain access to financial guidance and tips, along with a community of users on the app’s forum.
If you’re open to trying out a different bank, Simple is a, well, simpler budgeting option. The app is free, as is banking with Simple, though you won’t earn interest on your accounts. You’d also need to be willing to part with your credit card–and the accompanying rewards–to get the most out of Simple’s budgeting tools.