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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Money

7 Free Apps That'll Making Saving Money Ridiculously Easy

Raise your hand if you want to save more. OK, keep it raised if you feel like there just isn’t enough time to figure out your budget or calculate how much you should be putting away. Well, all that is about to change.

There are tons of ways to save beyond searching for coupons or using your bank’s limited mobile app. Offering everything from hands-off investing and insta-personalized budgets to custom savings goals and sophisticated ways to track your daily expenses, these apps up your savings game without taking more of your precious time. Read on to find the right one for you.

1. Level

Who needs a budget? The beautifully designed and easy-to-navigate Level money app automatically updates you throughout the day on how much spendable cash you have.

It starts by syncing with your checking or savings account, then examines how much remains in your account after deducting what you’ve spent for the day. It uses that average daily spend to estimate how much you can spend over the next week or month. If there’s not enough money in your account to support these spending habits, Level lets you know by putting an asterisk next to the estimate.

The Insights section is especially useful if you’re trying to track a certain category of spending to understand where your money goes. To test this, I created a section called “coffee” and then told the app to track all my debits from Cafe de Leche, my usual cafe. Level showed me how much I spent this month, the average I’ll spend per month if I continue at this rate, and a projected annual amount spent. Level also provides a bank balance chart showing how your bank account will look if you continue your spending pattern.

Get It: iOS and Android

2. Unsplurge

Unsplurge helps you focus on saving with visual and community elements. It starts with a simple question: What do you want to save for? You tell the app the answer, enter an amount, and upload a photo. It then tracks your progress and shows you visualizations, making your goal that much more tangible.

The app also has a section called Town, which brings in a community element. Here you see what other people’s savings goals are. A lady named Pradnya A. says that she’s saving $900 for repairs to her Jeep; Ali S.’s goal is to skip Starbucks and instead drink coffee at the office. My goal, for example, was to save $500 for a new pony. You can search by all posts, trending posts, and people you are following.

If the community element isn’t enough to get you into a saving mentality, the app also offers savings tips—one is the 52-week money challenge, which suggests you start by putting $1 into your savings on week one, then $2 on week two, and so on.

Get It: iOS

3. Toshl Finance

The Toshl Finance app creates a budget or spending plan customized for you. Select a budget type by time frame (one-time, daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, or yearly), and choose a starting date. From there, be sure to manually enter every expense and all earned income so that you can see how it sums up.

I suggest waiting until you have three months of expenses and income (so that you can calculate a monthly average over time), but Toshl gives you the option to start budgeting immediately. While the Toshl interface isn’t the sleekest, the app calculates expenses in a clear, straightforward way and organizes your expenses by tags, giving you a clearer way to see where you’ve spent money.

Toshl is anchored in the credo that the more clarity you have with your income and expenses, the easier it will be to save.

Get It: iOS, Android, Symbian, and Windows

4. Daily Budget

Looking for a clean and minimal app that makes saving as simple as possible? Try Daily Budget.

It calculates a daily budget for you based on your income and recurring expenses (rent/housing, internet, telephone, insurance, gas) and asks what percentage of your income you want to put toward savings. The app then breaks down that number to a percentage per day and month, which makes your savings goals feel more realistic. From there, it gives you a total daily budget number to hit, which means you can start saving ASAP.

Get It: iOS

5. Acorns

Acorns goes beyond just saving and puts you right into investing. This app uses a clever system called “round-ups” to help you do it painlessly. When you tie a checking or credit card account to your app, it takes each transaction you make and rounds it up to the nearest dollar, investing the difference automatically.

To choose how your money is invested, Acorns asks for your net worth and annual salary, assesses your risk tolerance, and suggests an investment portfolio that best fits your profile.

Acorns is useful for people who want to get into the habit of investing, but feel confused by the financial planning jargon and want to start small. Bonus points for the great and patient customer service people.

Get It: iOS and Android

6. Digit

Rather than a traditional app that crowds your phone screen, Digit operates through the Web and via text messages. Like Level, it syncs directly with your bank accounts.

Digit sends one text per day to let you know what your new checking account balance is and can also text you how much your bank balance changed over the past two days. It gives you the option to ask why your balance changed, then lists all your debits from the previous day. If you get in the habit of using the app regularly, Digit becomes a great tool for conducting detailed daily financial check-ins.

With all this data, Digit recommends a savings contribution based on your spending patterns. And with the automatic savings feature, Digit will transfer a set amount of money into your savings account on a daily basis.

Digit’s minimum savings suggestion is $0.05 per day, and the max is $150 a day. It also allows for unlimited transfers with no minimums or fees.

Get It: Web and Text Messages

7. Simple

Think of Simple as a checking account focused on helping you save. It comes with its own debit card and has no ATM fees. But this is not a bank account in the traditional sense.

Simple’s genius lies in the magic combination of a “safe-to-spend” account and goals. Safe-to-spend “does all the math for you by taking your balance and subtracting upcoming bill payments, pending transactions, and any goals you’re saving for,” according to its website. This way, you know how much is really available to spend without robbing yourself of any money that should go to your savings goals.

And when you tell Simple what your savings goal is, it helps you save over time by automatically transferring money from your Safe-to-Spend account on a daily basis. What could be easier than that?

Get It: iOS and Android

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Photo of savings courtesy of Shutterstock.