Everyone can always use some extra cash. There’s gotta be an easier way than working overtime or wasting your life on obscure side hustles. I’m sure you’ve had friends say, “just invest your money, bro” – if only it were that simple. With so many personal investment apps out there, it can be tough to find one that’s right for you. Whether you’re looking for a basic approach, automated investing, or sophisticated trading tools – there’s an app for everyone.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 personal investment apps on the market:
Robinhood: The People’s Choice
Robinhood – as the name suggests, brings investing to the people. With its sleek interface and user-friendly design, it's a breeze to use. No more scratching your head over complex financial jargon – Robinhood breaks it down in a way that even your grandma can understand. Plus, the commission-free trades make you feel like you've cracked the code to financial freedom without breaking the bank. If you're looking to trade stocks, options, ETFs, or crypto – Robinhood’s a terrific choice. However, this app doesn’t support mutual funds or fixed-income products, so it's best for beginner investors.
Acorns: The Sneaky Saver
Meet Acorns, the app that's all about micro-investing. It rounds up your everyday purchases to the nearest dollar and tosses that spare change into a portfolio. Basically, it’s the investment equivalent of finding money in your couch cushions! Acorns works best for investors looking to be hands-off. A minor downside is the pricey account management fees, especially if you’re only investing a small amount.
Stash: The Personalized Picker
If you've ever felt overwhelmed by the stock market's endless buffet, Stash will get you sorted. This app caters to your interests and values, allowing you to invest in themes like clean energy or your favorite tech giants. It's like choosing pizza toppings, but rather than pepperoni, you're choosing renewable energy stocks. There are small monthly fees, but it could be worth it if you want to buy fractional shares or a mixture of DIY and automated investing.
Betterment: The Hands-Free Helper
Imagine having your own personal finance Fairy Godmother. That's Betterment. This robo-advisor does the heavy lifting, making investment decisions based on your goals and risk tolerance. It's like having a financial planner, but without the awkward small talk. With their goal oriented tools and useful tax strategies, Betterment is definitely an underrated option.
E*TRADE: The OG Investor
Unlike other apps, E*TRADE has been around the block – it's the original gangster of online investing. With its roots firmly planted in the '90s, E*TRADE has weathered the dot-com bubble and the rise of smartphones. It's the app your older cousin used to trade tech stocks when the internet was still blurping and bleeping those dial-up noises. E*TRADE’s for the investor who wants a bit of tradition with a side of tech-savvy. Known for their exceptional customer support, E*TRADE also allows users to invest in futures, mutual funds, and advanced option strategies.
Who Takes the Crown?
If you're all about simplicity and love a good visual, Robinhood might be your go-to. For the saver who wants an investing habit that’s an automatic reflex, Acorns is the one. Stash appeals to the investor with a cause, while Betterment caters to those who seek a stress-free experience. And if you're looking for more advanced trading tools, E*TRADE is a good old reliable choice.
Ultimately, the smartest investment app should align with your financial goals and make you excited about growing your wealth. The best way to learn is by giving them a try!
It’s almost 2024, but if there’s one thing you don’t want to save until the new year it’s putting your finances in order. When it comes to tackling money goals, the best time to start is always yesterday. But these days — given our digital-first landscape and online bank accounts — financial success takes more than balancing a checkbook. But this doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. No matter your financial goals, from understanding your accounts to growing your wealth, there are many impressive personal finance apps that make it easier for everyone and anyone to understand their money.
Financial apps are powerful tools to assist us, educate us, and empower us to understand our finances better, all from the comfort of our desktops or smartphones. Get a grasp of your finances, get on track with financial goals, and set yourself up for long-term financial accomplishments.
These apps aren't merely about tracking your expenses — though many can remove the tedium of keeping track of your card swipes and Apple pay purchases. They offer insights into your spending habits, help you plan for the future, and act as actual financial confidants. Are you planning to pay off debt? Are you saving for a dream vacation (if White Lotus is your ultimate inspiration, you’re not alone)? Invest for a secure retirement? It doesn’t matter what financial freedom looks like, personal finance apps can help you get there.
As your partners in success, these apps allow you to set specific financial goals, track your progress, and, most importantly, they absolutely hold you accountable. They offer a variety of approaches to budgeting, investing, and saving. Whether you prefer the hands-on approach of manual budgeting or the convenience of automation, there's an app to match your style.
So, let's take a journey through the best personal finance apps, each with its own pros and cons, so you can make the right choice for your financial future.
Mint by Intuit
First up on our list is Mint, the all-around money management system by Intuit. Mint is a classic for a reason. A name synonymous with personal finance management. Imagine having a personal financial assistant who keeps an eye on your money 24/7. It helps you manage your accounts, budget for your success, and set a spending plan for a brighter financial future.
- Budget Tracking: Mint automatically categorizes your spending, helping you track your expenses and identify areas to cut back.
- Bill Reminders: Never miss a payment again with Mint's bill reminder feature.
- Credit Score Monitoring: Mint provides a free credit score and monitoring service to help you stay on top of your credit health.
- Investment Tracking: It also tracks investments, so you have a holistic view of your financial portfolio.
- Ads: Mint's free version comes with ads, which can be a bit of a nuisance for some users.
- Limited Investment Advice: While it tracks investments, it fails to provide in-depth investment advice or portfolio analysis.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
The YNAB budgeting approach applies the zero-based budgeting method to your finances without the hassle of doing the calculations yourself or using a complex spreadsheet. YNAB gives every dollar a job causing you to be more intentional with your money. If you simply seek a 360 overview of your spending, this is the app for you.
- Zero-Based Budgeting: YNAB's core philosophy is built on assigning a purpose to each dollar, leading to a more controlled and mindful approach to spending.
- Educational Resources: YNAB offers free workshops and resources to help you gain a better grasp of budgeting.
- Goal Tracking: It allows you to set financial goals and track your progress.
- Debt Paydown Support: YNAB offers features to help you get out of debt faster.
- Subscription Model: YNAB operates on a subscription model which might deter users looking for a free option.
- Learning Curve: The zero-based budgeting system may take time to fully apprehend and implement.
Goodbudget is a unique app that brings the envelope budgeting method to your digital life, making budgeting tangible and visual. Paper envelopes can be a hassle to set up and keep track of — especially now that more and more places don’t take cash. Goodbudget gives you a visual and interactive way to keep track of your money.
- Envelope System: Goodbudget digitally replicates the envelope budgeting system, where you allocate funds to specific categories.
- Multi-Platform Support: It's available on both web and mobile devices, making it accessible wherever you are.
- Debt Tracking: It provides features for tracking and paying off debt.
- Limited Automation: Goodbudget relies on manual input for most transactions and budgeting, which can be time-consuming.
- Basic Reporting: The app's reporting capabilities are not as robust as some other options.
Created by financial guru Dave Ramsey, EveryDollar is a budgeting tool designed to help users take control of their money. However, Dave Ramsay’s methods are pretty controversial due to his ruthless and shame-based rhetoric. This may be best if you’re aggressively paying off debt, but not as a permanent addition to your lifestyle.
- Zero-Based Budgeting: Like YNAB, EveryDollar encourages zero-based budgeting, ensuring every dollar has a job.
- Dave Ramsey's Principles: The app incorporates Dave Ramsey's financial principles and strategies.
- Debt Snowball Tracking: EveryDollar assists users in following the debt snowball method to pay off debts.
- Cost: The full version of EveryDollar comes at a price, which may not be suitable for users seeking a free budgeting tool.
- Limited Features: It may lack some of the investment and credit tracking features present in other apps.
Cleo is a chatbot app that uses AI to help users with budgeting and financial management. It gives you an easy-to-understand overview of your money on demand. And can even provide advice on your spending based on what your accounts are looking like. It’s ideal for Gen Z due to its casual tone and approachable interface.
- Conversational Interface: Cleo makes budgeting more engaging and accessible through its chatbot interface.
- Expense Tracking: It tracks expenses and offers insights into your spending habits.
- Automatic Saving: Cleo can help automate your savings and set aside money for your goals.
- Bank-Level Security: It prioritizes security to protect your financial information.
- Subscription Model: Access to Cleo Plus, the premium version, comes at a monthly cost.
- Limited Investment Features: Cleo's primary focus is on budgeting and saving, not investment tracking.
SoFi (Social Finance)
SoFi offers a range of financial products and services, including banking, investing, loans, and more. It's a comprehensive financial platform designed to help users take control of their financial future. You can invest, trade, bank, and save on their platform, while also keeping track of any other bank accounts.
- Integrated Financial Services: SoFi provides a one-stop-shop for banking, investing, and borrowing.
- Robo-Advisory Services: SoFi Invest offers robo-advisory services for automated investing.
- Loan Refinancing: It's known for student loan refinancing and personal loans with competitive rates.
- Financial Planning: SoFi offers financial planning tools and advice.
- High Account Minimums: Some investment options have high account minimums, making them less accessible for beginners.
- Limited Banking Branches: SoFi Money accounts are online-only, which might not suit users who prefer in-person banking.
This is just a taste of what's to come in the world of personal finance apps for 2023. Financial success isn't only about the present; it's about building a secure future. As you navigate the vast array of personal finance apps, consider your long-term financial goals. Look for apps that not only assist with budgeting and expense tracking but also offer tools for debt management, investment, and retirement planning.
From robo-advisors that handle your investments to apps that help you pay down debt more efficiently, the choices are abundant. Some even provide educational resources and workshops to develop your financial literacy.
Investing in these apps is an investment in your financial future, bringing you one step closer to financial security and achieving your dreams.
When I was younger…This is back before my beloved iPhone or FaceTime, I had to use my parents’ desktop — because it had a mini camera attached to the top — to call family or friends via Oovoo or Skype. The camera quality was less than ideal — mostly pixelated images and the connection sucked.
Which is why it fell off when iPhones roared onto the scene engulfing our lives. And we no longer needed our computers for video calls as often…until the pandemic. When the world stopped and went virtual, and we found ourselves regressing in many ways.
Trends from our pasts resurged: cargo pants, trucker hats, and film cameras all became popular again. We grew nostalgic, seeking comfort in old habits and practices…people baked, wrote letters by hand. And it wasn’t all that different with technology.
We were forced to work from home and go to school remotely, interacting with our peers and coworkers via our screens. Thus began the resurrection of the video chat: Zoom and Skype calls internationally connected those unable to leave their homes. And living in a post-pandemic world demonstrates that we can create hybrid formats — where not every doctor’s call warrants schlepping into the office for an in-person visit. And most work meetings can be conducted in your home office.
While this leads to a much more convenient lifestyle, it also means you get to slack off a bit. Personally, I wear less makeup, others may have a formal top on but wear leggings or sweatpants that the camera can’t see.
When you’re on camera, there’s more to hide. With the help of virtual meetings, no one can tell if you just rolled out of bed, no one can see how truly vile those under-eye bags are. And with Google Meet’s filter effects, I can blur my imperfections without even brandishing my trusty concealer.
Google announced that by the end of 2023, Google Meet will be rolling out their “highly requested” portrait touch-up features. Now, you’ll be able to lighten your under-eyes, give your teeth a quick whiten, and smooth your complexion with the click of your mouse. Google is featuring two portrait modes: Subtle for a less-obvious face touchup and Smoothing, for those days where you slept two hours and it shows.
@c_hillll However, everyone knows I love my thick eyebrows so this might not be the exact filter for me 😂 #beautyfilter #fakebody #fakeittillyoumakeit #wfh ♬ Hey Sexy Lady [Feat. Brian & Tony Gold] - Shaggy
It’s a feature only available to those with Premium Google accounts such as Business Standard and Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Google Workplace, and more. Since TikTok’s already rolled out successful beauty filters that alter and enhance your appearance, this fabulous Google feature is lonnnngggg overdue.
Portrait touch-ups will be fantastic for those who didn’t have time to grab coffee and wake up, or if you can’t be bothered to put on a swipe of mascara before that important morning — or 5pm — meeting.
The beauty filter has been a point of controversy across all apps. While TikTokers feel more confident in their own skin using the touch-ups, some viewers find it to be false advertising. Sure, your makeup will look flawless if there’s a filter…your skin is already blurred.
Pretty soon, we’ll all be making faces at the camera because we’re feeling ourselves again. It’s about putting the “yassified” version of yourself out there…At. All. Times. Because why not look your best? Lazy girl makeup comes to life!
And while I may put myself at risk of being labelled a “catfish” for using the S moothing Effects, I’m sure I’ll never feel more confident. Honestly, there’s no better makeup artist than those beauty filters on your apps…I stand by that.
When it comes to splitting a bill or paying a friend back for that bar tab, 2 names stand out. In the realm of peer-to-peer payment apps, there’s Venmo and Cash App. As someone who uses both apps, I’ll give you my honest opinion on which one takes the cake.
The Look and Feel
First things first, let’s compare the UI of each app. Venmo has a playful, social media vibe with a public feed of friends’ payments. The app features a clean interface similar to the old Twitter and includes a blue payment button centered at the bottom. Venmo automatically converts basic payment notes to emoji icons, brightening up the feed and further adding to a social media aesthetic.
Cash App, on the other hand, feels more businesslike. The main screen looks like a calculator with large numbers and a dark background. Cash App has no bells and whistles, and features simpler overall design with a focus on utility.
Personally, I prefer the appearance of Venmo as it brings some fun to the often dreaded act of making payments.
Ease of Use
Both Venmo and Cash App are pretty user-friendly. With Venmo, you choose who to pay first, while Cash App prompts you to initially set the payment amount. While using Venmo, I find that I often get distracted as I spend time checking the social feed. So, Cash App wins in this instance, as the path to making payments is more streamlined.
Transfers and Fees
Now, let's get to the nitty-gritty – sending and receiving money. Venmo and Cash App are both free to use if you're sending money from your linked bank account or debit card. But if you're going the credit card route, be ready to pay a 3% fee with both apps.
Venmo does allow for higher transfer limits, which can be important for larger payments like utilities or rent. Meanwhile, Cash App allows for international transfers (US to UK), so I’d say it’s a tie between the two when it comes to the transfer category.
CryptoCurrency, Taxes, and Investing
Andre McKenzie via Unsplash
Both apps allow users to purchase cryptocurrencies. However, Venmo provides 5 different types compared to Cash App’s singular choice of Bitcoin.
Unlike Venmo, Cash App grants users the option to file taxes and even invest in stocks. Although they only offer Bitcoin at this point, I still give Cash App the leg up in this category due to the other services they provide.
Let's talk about customer service – something we all love to hate. Venmo's support can be on the slow side, and good luck getting someone on the phone. Cash App's customer service isn't exactly top-notch either. But they have a dedicated Twitter account that often responds to complaints more quickly. Both could improve here, but Cash App edges it out for me.
In the grand showdown of Venmo vs. Cash App, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you're into social sharing and higher transfer limits, I’d go with Venmo. But if you prefer a simpler UI, and are also curious about filing taxes and investing, Cash App is the play.