If you struggle with saving money, then consider trying one of the following phone apps. They're easy to use and automate savings, so you never have to think about a piggy bank again. Start the new year with something better than a resolution: Download one of these five apps.

Acorns

Acorns is an app that automatically invests your money in small amounts. It rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the change to your Acorns account. You have to connect a checking account to use this app, so the app can move money into an investment portfolio. It only costs $1 per month to use Acorns, but if you want more features, then you can sign up for the $2 or $3 per month options.

Digit

Digit analyzes your spending habits and income to help you save money automatically. The app relies on algorithms to determine how much you can save every month and transfers the money from your checking account to your Digit account. It has a no-overdraft guarantee and only costs $2.99 per month to use. Although your savings don't earn interest, you get a 1% savings bonus every three months and can withdraw the money from the account at any time.

Earny

Earny is a different type of savings app. Instead of taking money from your account and moving it, this free app automatically sends you money from refunds it obtains. First, you connect an email account such as Gmail or Yahoo. Then, the app scans the inbox for receipts and looks for price drops on your purchases. If it finds something costs less than what you paid, it will automatically request a refund and notify you. You can add multiple email addresses, so the app can monitor all of them for receipts.

Qapital

Qapital is a free banking app that can also round up your change to the nearest dollar and transfer it to savings. The app also allows you to create specific savings rules, such as creating a goal to save 15% of your paycheck every month. If you open a Qapital Spending account, you can earn 0.10% interest, and it's FDIC-insured. You can also invest the money in a portfolio and choose the risk level that feels comfortable.

Ibotta

Ibotta is a free cash-back app for your purchases. You can send receipts, link a store loyalty card or make mobile purchases to get cash back. After setting up your account, the next step is to look for offers on products that you want to buy. These rebates change all the time and range from 5% cash back from purchasing on Amazon to $4 for buying any brand's beef roast. Then, you add the offers to your account, go shopping and get cash back automatically. Once you earn $20, you can transfer the money to your PayPal or Venmo account, or you can purchase a gift card.

Acorns, Digit, Earny, Qapital, and Ibotta are easy apps to use, so you can start saving money right away. These five apps can help you reach your money goals faster.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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