These 8 Apps Will Help You Save Money — No Matter How Tight Your Budget

Saving money is oftentimes filed under personal finance 101.

It’s easy, they say. You’ve just got to do it! Stay focused! Quell spending temptations!

Honestly, that’s just not the case.

In the United States, only 15% of us can come up with $2,000, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of Federal Reserve survey data.

If saving money were that easy, that percentage would be a lot higher.

But here’s the thing: There are plenty of money-saving tools out there that’ll make the task way easier. Some of them will even help you grow your stash with that sweet, sweet interest.

We Reviewed ’Em: The 8 Best Money-Saving Apps of 2019

There are so many personal finance apps, which is great, but it can quickly become overwhelming. To help you decide what’s best for you and your financial goals, we rounded up  our favorite savings apps (in no particular order).

1. Aspiration: A Free Account With Built-In Savings

A simple way to save money is to open an account that offers a side-by-side spending account and a savings account, like the online-only Aspiration Spend & Save account.

When you open an account, you’ll receive a cash-back debit card that’ll get you 0.5% cash back on all purchases. You’ll also gain access to a high-yield savings account, which will get you 2.00% APY — as long as you deposit $1 a month.

If you’re new to this whole “saving money” thing, it might take some time to strike the right balance between your spending and savings accounts, but Aspiration makes it super easy to shuffle money back and forth.

Best for those looking to open a new, fee-free account and want to earn some extra money with cash back and interest. You only need $10 to open an account.

Cost: Free

Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android.

Find out more in our Aspiration review.

2. Digit: A Mindless Way to Hit Your Savings Goals

If you have trouble determining just how much money you can afford to put away each month, turn to Digit, an innovative mobile app that’ll do the work for you.

First, download the Digit app, and connect your bank account. (This is where the app will pull money from to go into savings.)

Then set up your savings goals. For example, you can set a goal of $2,000 for a rainy day fund and then $500 for a weekend getaway.

Now, Digit will use its smart algorithms to analyze your income and spending habits to determine just how much you can afford to save. It’ll automatically pull small amounts of money (it promises no overdrafts!) into its FDIC-insured Digit account.

It’ll even send you real-time daily notifications, so your balance is never a surprise. You can pause or tap into your savings at any time — it’ll take one business day for the funds to roll back into your checking account.

Best for those who have a hard time figuring out how much they can afford to save and want to lean on automatic savings.

Cost: Free for the first 30 days, then a monthly fee of $2.99

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up. Additionally, you’ll receive a 1% savings bonus on your average daily balance every three months.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Read how one Penny Hoarder mindlessly saved $4,300 in our Digit review.

3. Acorns: A Virtual Piggy Bank Turned Investment Account

If you want to dip your big toe into investing while also stockpiling money, Acorns is a micro-investing mobile app that allows just that.

Download the app, then link up your checking accounts, credit cards and/or debit cards — go wild. (This is all protected, by the way, and your investment portfolio is insured for up to $500,000.)

Now, turn on its round-up feature, and Acorns will act like a virtual piggy bank, rounding up your transactions to the nearest dollar and depositing the spare change into your Acorns account. Then it does all the heavy lifting for you.

You can even earn cash back through Acorns. For example, if you’ve wanted to sign up for Blue Apron, it’ll give you $30 to invest. Or if you book your next Airbnb through the app, you’ll snag 1.8% cash back to go toward your investments.

Best for those who are interested in investing their savings and are willing to take a little risk.

Cost: $1 a month for account balances under $1 million

Bonus: Pocket $5 when you sign up.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Check out our Acorns review, and read how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year.

4. Qapital: A Fun (Almost Addicting) Way to Save Money

If you want to, you know, spice things up while saving, look into the Qapital app.

I initially tried Qapital out back in 2016, when I’d just secured my first full-time job and was having a hard time putting any money away. It helped me sneak away $700 in about five months.

When you download the Qapital app, you’ll link up your bank account and set savings goals. Under each goal, you’ll set rules. This is where it gets fun.

For example, if you’re really excited about saving for your trip to the Bahamas, set Qapital to transfer $5 into your Qapital account each time you hit your daily step goal. Or maybe you’re always stopping by Starbucks. Tell Qapital to funnel $1 into your savings each time you go.

(Since I used Qapital, it’s evolved to offer banking and investment services, too, but I’m still keen on its core: saving.)

Best for those who like a good challenge and want turn goal-setting into a game.

Cost: $3 a month for the basic version after a 30-day free trial.

Available via iOS and Android.

5. Twine: A Simple Way for Couples to Band Together to Hit Mutual Goals

If you’re looking for a way to save toward a joint goal with your better half, you’ll want to use the Twine app.

Say you and your honey want to save for a long weekend in the Bahamas. Or maybe you’re looking to buy a home in a few years and want to save for a down payment. Whatever it is, Twine allows you both to work toward that goal.

The app offers two options: You two can save your money in a free joint account with a 1.05% variable interest rate, or you two can invest your money and potentially earn some interest. (That option costs 25 cents per $500 invested.)

To get started, you and your partner will each create Twine accounts, and link your individual bank accounts — this is how you’ll fund your savings. Then, set your goal (vacation, down payment, emergency fund, you name it) and select your monthly deposit amount.

Then, watch your savings grow together.

Best for those who want to make saving money a joint affair.

Cost: Free for saving.

Bonus: Pocket $5 when you sign up.

Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android.

6. Varo: A Savings Account That Offers Above Average APY

If you’ve got your savings strategy down pat but need a safe place to stash your money, look into an iOS banking app called Varo Money.

Here’s our favorite part: Pair your Varo Bank Account with a Varo Savings Account where you’ll earn 2.12%* Annual Percentage Yield (APY) with the opportunity to earn up to 2.80% APY on up to $50,000 in savings. That’s 31 times — repeat, 31 times — the average savings account, based on a 0.09% average reported by the FDIC.

To qualify for the 2.80% rate, you’ll need to have payroll or government direct deposits of $1,000 or more and authorize at least five purchases with your Varo debit card each month.

Varo goes easy on the fees, too. As long as you use one of the more than 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs in its affiliated network across the world, you won’t pay ATM fees.

Additionally, the minimum balance to open the account is just a penny; you’ll pay no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash replacement fees. You’ll just pay any fees charged by out-of-network ATMs and cash deposit fees if you deposit cash in-store through the Green Dot® Network.

Best for those who need a separate, hands-off account to stow their money and to take advantage of compound interest.

Cost: Free

Available via Apple iOS.

*Varo disclosure: APY is accurate as of January 29, 2019. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open account. Balance in savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest. Deposits are FDIC insured to at least $250,000 through The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC.

7. Stash: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Investing App

If you’re interested in investing your savings, all you need is your phone, an app called Stash and $5 to start.

This app offers all the tools you need to turn investing into a totally passive activity.

You can opt to round-up your purchases and invest the spare change, set Stash to withdraw money on a set schedule or rely on its Smart-Stash feature, which will analyze your income and expenses to determine how much you can afford to invest.

Stash your money into more than 150 ETFs and individual stocks. Because these are micro-investments, you don’t have to invest a ton of money to get started.

Best for those who want to automate their savings stash — then invest it.

Cost: $1 a month for accounts with balances under $5,000; balances of $5,000 or more cost 0.25% a year*

Bonus: The Penny Hoarder has teamed up with Stash to give you a $5 sign-up bonus after you make your first investment.

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

Get more information in our comprehensive Stash app review.

*Clients may incur ancillary fees, charged by Stash, its custodian or both, that are not included in the monthly Wrap-Fee.

8. Chime: A Bank That’ll Do All The Hard Work For You

If you’re looking to combine a number of options on this list into one easy-to-use app, turn to Chime.

When you sign up for Chime, you’ll gain access to an online checking and savings account. Because they’re connected, it’s easy to transfer money back and forth.

But more than that: Whenever you make a transaction with your Chime debit card, it’ll round up your purchase automatically and dump the change into your savings. You can schedule automatic transfers into your savings account, too.

It takes all of about five minutes to open your Chime account.

Best for those who are sick of downloading new apps and simply want their financial institution to take care of the whole saving thing for them.

Cost: Free

Available via Apple iOS and Android.

We wrote even more about Chime’s saving options in our review.

Need More Help? Find Your Perfect Budgeting App

If you’re still struggling to save money, you might need to go back to the basics with a budgeting app. By setting up a budget and tracking your expenses, you’ll be able to find exactly where you’re overdoing it and how you can better achieve your financial goals.

One we suggest starting with is Clarity Money*, a free app that helps you see, organize and take control of your finances.

The way it works is simple. You just download the app, connect your existing accounts, and get ready to learn more about where your money’s disappearing to… and how to keep more of it.

Clarity Money analyzes and uses your spending history to provide budgetary insights. It’ll show you exactly how much you spend in different categories, like bars and restaurants, as a percentage of your total expenses.

But it’s not just a recap of your weekend spending with pretty graphics.

It also gives you the tools and information you need to start making better financial choices. And they’re all super-easy to use, and accessible right inside the app.

Disclosure: Clarity Money compensates us when you download the app using the links we provide.

If you want more money-management tools, check out eight of the best budgeting apps, which includes everything from Mint to You Need a Budget (YNAB).

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s all for automated savings.

This article originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder