Hard to think that it’s been nearly 20 years since Quicken was worshipped as the paragon of finance software. During those dark ages of personal computing it was assumed there was no more efficient means of keeping one’s financial house in order than by inputting data into spreadsheets for hours on end. But in the intervening years the mobile revolution has upended the paradigm and put all that software and functionality in the average Joe’s hand. And new personal finance apps are being released practically every day for all mobile platforms. Here are some of the best for this year. And the best thing is that none of them cost a dime.
This option is still one of the most popular personal finance apps out there. Ironic that Intuit, the company that owns Mint, also owns the aforementioned Quicken. What Intuit was able to improve on this time around is efficiency. It harnessed the power of mobile to deliver a personal finance app that requires little more of the user than entering his or her account information. From there the user can create budgets, check his or her credit score, receive alerts, and track investments. It’s one of the best options for those with little time who like to manage their accounts while on the go.
From time to time even the best of us have problems treading financial waters. In these instances loans are a nice option, and there are many out there. Aside from finding the best and most appropriate loan—a subtle art that the professionals at GoRapid.com have much experience with—the crucial thing is to manage such debt properly. ReadyForZero has been racking up positive user reviews because it is effective at doing just that. It connects the user’s online bank accounts and customizes a payment plan that is fully adjustable.
Anyone who has seen “Superman III” likely remembers the plot point where a computer scam spins off monetary remainders. While definitely not a scam, Acorns operates under a similar and very clever principal: users connect their checking and card accounts to the app, and it rounds every purchase up to the nearest dollar, spinning the difference into stocks. The developers claim that users average $30-$180 per month in automatic investments. It’s a great solution for those who would like to add to their portfolio without any effort.
If budgeting was a one-size-fits-all proposition, then it would be a breeze to accomplish. But just as no two people are the same, no two budgets are the same. Sure there are fundamentals and ground rules for solid budgets, but they are only effective when tailored to the individual. Level Money looks at the individual’s finances and calculates how much he or she can afford to spend each month. Users can see their transactions in real time, track spending habits, prioritize savings, and personalize monthly financial goals.
It’s difficult trusting a human being with one’s finances, but handing that same power to a software program? That’s the central conceit of Digit, an app that aims to save users’ money for them based on spending patterns. At various times it moves small amounts of the cash from the user’s checking account to an FDIC-insured Digit account, and it does this based on the user’s overall budget and spending habits. There are no hidden fees (it makes its money off the account interest), and it offers bank-level security. Moreover, it’s got the blessing of Google. In an age where people are touting the “Internet of things” in the form of smart homes and smart cars, it might make sense to have a smart bank account, too.
While the above free options all get the job done, there are some paid apps out there that are making much noise, including You Need a Budget 4, and iBank 5, both for iOS and both retailing at $59.99. A hefty price tag to be sure, but what users get for that price is a virtual financial adviser, one that does everything from managing investment portfolios to providing detailed income and expense reports calculated based on every one of the user’s accounts.