apps

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If you're savvy when it comes to apps but could use some direction in your investing game, combine the two and go from investing newbie to knowledgeable with tips you can tap into. Entering into the world of investing can be daunting, so invest your time before you invest your hard-earned dough. These 5 apps for investing beginners will lead you in the right direction. Invest with the best!

MoneyLion Plus

MoneyLion PlusVia crowdfundinsider.com

MoneyLion Plus is an app that is designed to help you borrow, save, reduce debt, invest, and earn. You'll learn the basics of landing a loan, keep up to date on your credit score as you monitor your credit history and charges, and have a neat place to store all your financial information securely. With personalized financial advice and a guided investing plan, you will begin to develop your investment portfolio and allocation. Step by step, you will become tuned in to how investing works and what works for you. And now's a great time to improve your investing know-how with MoneyLion Plus. According to Tech Crunch, "The latest version of the MoneyLion Plus app has an updated user interface to make things easier to navigate and provide faster access to the information. With its new UI, MoneyLion's home navigation now shows swipe-able cards to provide up-to-date information, recommendations and personalized advice." For $29 per month, this app will pay for itself… and then some.

Robinhood

RobinhoodVia thefinancegenie.com

Learn the ins and outs of the stock market for free with the aid of Robinhood app. The app leads you step by step as you build your portfolio from scratch. Invest in stocks, options, and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). Their mission? "To democratize America's financial system. Invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies commission-free." Make instant deposits with no wait time. You can boost your account by opting for Robinhood Gold. According to Business Insider, this account, "gives you access to extra buying power, larger instant deposits, and extended trading hours." Robinhood is easy-to-navigate helping you see market data clearly for making wise investment choices. As per The Finance Genie, "It's fast and streamlined so you can instantly verify your bank account and check on your investments or make trades with only a few taps." There is no account minimum to start, so what are you waiting for?

Stash

StashVia stashinvest.com

If you've got five bucks, you can begin your introduction to investing with Stash, an SEC registered investment adviser. Sign up is simple as you fill out your profile, and you will instantly gain access to 30+ investment options along with customized advice from your Stash Coach to help you set up your portfolio. All investments on the Stash app are carefully selected by their team. Everything is broken down and easy to digest, without unfamiliar terminology or confusion to trip you up. Their selection of ETFs is broken down by interest (activist, techie, globetrotter, trendsetter, etc.), so you can invest in companies that matter most to you. Stash's mission, "We believe everyone should have access to financial education, technology, and services that help them achieve their life goals," only furthers your faith in the Stash app and the knowledgeable team behind it.

Acorns

Acorns Via bankers-anonymous.com

Acorns is great for beginners or anyone who wants to start investing now, even if they don't have much money at the get-go. Just $1 per month will get you on your way. Acorns' micro-investing platform is a three-step entry process – connect your banking/credit card(s), make purchases as usual, and the app will start investing your spare change left over as they round up your purchases to the dollar. 7,000 stocks and bonds are available for investing, to "improve your return while reducing risk." You'll create a portfolio designed in part by a Nobel Prize-winning economist to manage your investments in an organized and professional manner. With the app comes Grow Magazine, so you can continue to learn more about investing as you delve deeper into the financial world. CNBC calls Acorn, "The new millennial investing strategy." With investors including PayPal and Ashton Kutcher, Acorn is on to something.

Wealthfront

Wealthfront Via blogwealthfront.com

Connect your financial accounts to the Wealthfront app and fill out a questionnaire, and let their expert software analyze your info to help you make the most of your finances by investing intelligently into one of their 20 portfolios. They will design a personalized plan to help you achieve your investing goals with a diversified plan from the ground up. With just a .25% annual advisory fee for accounts with a $10,000+ balance (otherwise free), you will spend a little to gain a lot. According to NerdWallet, "Wealthfront offers the kind of holistic financial advice and automated investment management that appeals to new and experienced investors alike." With access to U.S. and foreign stocks, bonds, real estate, securities, etc., Wealthfront has a mix of options to help you invest strategically and successfully.

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From saving for a big purchase to paying off a loan, money management apps can help you take control of your finances. However, selecting one can be more difficult than figuring out the interest, fees, or charges on your latest credit card statement. We rounded up the top three apps to help you manage money.

1. Mint

Since 2006, Mint has helped people stay on a budget and track their finances. This free app is a good choice if you are trying to cut expenses but don't want to resort to an Excel spreadsheet for finance management. Mint doesn't require any software installation, and you can use the mobile app or access the site on a browser.

Mint combines all the different aspects of your financial life into one place. It handles budgets, bills, credit scores, and investments. You can add an unlimited number of accounts, such as bank accounts or credit cards, and automatically track them. Mint provides tips to help you manage money based on the goals you set. In addition, it sends alerts for upcoming bills, organizes all the bills in one place, and alerts you to unusual account changes.

2. Acorns

The Acorns app helps you save money with little effort. Although it is not free, Acorns is very affordable with $1, $2, and $3 per month plans. College students can get the $1 per month plan for free. The app lets you automatically save and invest money on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Acorns invests your spare change by rounding up to the nearest dollar every time you make a purchase with a debit or credit card. Then, it takes the spare change from your checking account and moves it into your Acorns investment account. Next, the app automatically invests it in your portfolio. You can also move a lump sum for investing or set up recurring contributions to a retirement account.

3. Credit Karma

Your credit is an important part of your financial life and affects your insurance rates, ability to take out a new loan, or get a lease on a rental property. Credit Karma lets you check your credits scores with an easy app for free. The app provides credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax, along with the reports, so you can track progress. Checking them with this free service doesn't affect your scores.

Credit Karma also gives you personalized recommendations to improve your credit and save money. The insights help you analyze the scores in a simple way. If anything changes, its credit-monitoring feature sends you alerts. It can also track your email address to search for breached accounts and notify you.

Ignoring your finances won't help you get out of debt or manage a budget, but you don't have to do it alone. Try one of these three money management apps to stay on track. We promise that there are no complicated spreadsheets or calculus involved in using them.

Do you ever look at your credit card statement and laugh at how often you spend money at the same four or five places? I definitely do. I have my favorite spots that are part of my daily routine and I'm always trying to think of ways to make my money go further, but I'm not willing to give up those purchases that are a normal part of my week. So rather than skip my morning coffee to save a buck, I use Drop.

Drop is an app that lets you earn points when you shop at your favorite stores. All you have to do is link your credit or debit card. Once you sync with Drop, you then select your five favorite stores. Then, any time you use your card at one of those five stores, you earn points that can be redeemed in the form of gift cards. It's literally that simple.

For me, there were almost too many options to choose from when selecting my five stores. There was Dunkin' Donuts, which was a no brainer since I need my coffee every day. Then there was Uber, which I always end up taking even when it's not in my budget. And of course I had to include Seamless, because I'm never in the mood to cook when I get home from work. To round it out, I chose Chipotle, my go-to lunch spot, and Target, which is where I go for everything else.

All I had to do to start earning points was go about my normal life and I saw the points start to roll in with each purchase. I knew I was spending a good amount of money at those five stores, but I had no idea how easy it would be to start getting rewards points. And if I want to earn even more points, Drop is constantly sending me additional offers from other brands that I love, like BirchBox and Boxed.com, so I don't just have to rely on my five main stores. Since I started with Drop two months ago, I've already used 10,000 points to get a $10 gift card at Amazon. It's that easy!

With Drop, I see all the deals available to me in the app and I can keep track of them in one convenient location. I've been trying to tell as many of my friends as possible to try Drop because there's zero downside and it takes almost no effort at all to earn points. I can't imagine I'll ever stop using it. It's literally the easiest way I've ever earned rewards points. I even get offers for new deals to earn more points at other places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Since signing up with Drop, I know I'm getting getting the best bang for my buck.

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Photo: Domenico Loia

By Tom Twardzik

Sometimes, the difference between a successful day of work and a frustrating one is a set of efficient, uncomplicated tools. For someone working from home or otherwise away from the office, the primary tool set is often a computer. A standard word processor, a default email client and the desktop sticky notes might be enough to complete your tasks, but a more personalized and powerful desktop will boost your productivity and overhaul your creative process. The Mac apps below highlight the best ways to upgrade your tool set for a more efficient home or remote office.

Basic productivity

What are some of the most basic actions you perform on your computer? Copy-and-paste and resizing and arranging windows. Saving a fraction of a second every time you perform these actions adds up quickly, and several apps will help you do that.

Magnet.

Magnet has been at the top of the paid apps chart for months. This $0.99 utility gives your desktop more than a dozen shortcuts for resizing and arranging the windows on your screen. Whether you're on an 11" laptop or a 27" iMac, Magnet snaps any window into size and position with a number of keyboard shortcuts. It makes decluttering your digital workspace much simpler than decluttering your desk will ever be.

iPaste is another must-have utility that lives in the background and automatically stores your recent clipboard. It saves what you ask it to save and makes it available in a pop-up menu through a keyboard shortcut. And it does it for free. So you can copy three separate sentences of an article and paste them separately instead of flipping back and forth between windows, copying and pasting three times.

It's the little things.

Idea-sketching and planning

There are hundreds of brainstorming, note-taking and to-do list apps available on and off the app store, but there are few standouts who do it all in one. Fed up with Evernote's subscription model but still willing to pay? Try Notability, the Mac version of iPad's ultimate idea space. Type, draw, annotate, record audio, add photos and PDFs—it does everything. For $10 and no subscription, it'll quickly replace all of Evernote's functionalities.

OneNote

Or, for a free alternative, go for Microsoft's OneNote. The only catch here is that you'll have to create a (free) Microsoft account. OneNote offers a toolset similar to Notability (if a bit less polished and more… Microsoft). It offers a powerful notation space, especially for anyone already in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Agenda.

For a more structured planning app, Agenda is a great alternative to Trello. It's a date-focused notes/journal combination that incorporates your calendar to offer a to-do list, note space and calendar on one screen. Seeing previously completed to-dos and past dates in the same line as future events is surprisingly helpful. It adds temporal context to every glance at your upcoming tasks and notes. $25 gets you all of the synching and exporting features not included in the free app.

Maybe you're looking for a pure, simple, full-featured, free to-do list to replace Todoist, Things or any of the other paid or subscription-based apps out there. Enter Wunderlist. Not only does it offer all of the features of the others for free (including sync, subtasks and an Apple Watch app), but it has collaboration features, too. Use it to manage all of your own projects or set up your coworkers or family with access to shared lists to split up the workload.

Collaboration

Notion.

Speaking of collaborating, you might be searching for a change in routine to boost creativity or energize your team. A new app could be the solution, a replacement for Slack or Trello or Google Drive. Try Notion. It's a free, universal notes/to-dos/wiki app that works on desktop, mobile or in-browser on any computer. You can work offline, sync between devices, invite your team to workspaces and collaborate in real time. It looks great, too. There is a paid pro tier that removes limits on card numbers and upload sizes, but the free version has plenty of features for a small team.

Email

Collaborating with a small team is easy with an app like Notion, but email still dominates working from home or out of office. It's often a necessary drudge, but make it easier on yourself with Spark. This free email app from Readdle offers features like email snooze, send scheduling, swipe shortcuts, pinned messages, tons of smart folder options and more, all with the goal of reaching Inbox Zero. Spark wants to change your habits from leaving thousands of old, unread messages in your inbox to archiving or deleting those messages and leaving only the messages you need in your inbox or in a folder. The snooze feature, alone, makes it worth downloading.

The work

All of these time-saving productivity apps lead to one thing: the work. Two app highlights are worth mentioning: Be Focused and iA Writer.

Be Focused.

Be Focused is a tiny timer app that lives in the menu bar as a stopwatch icon. Set the timer and ��click start, and the app simply counts down. It doesn't block social media or lock you into a writing screen like other apps. It is not a restriction or a monitor, but a reminder to break up your work into blocks and take short breaks in between those blocks. You'll see that this psychological trick helps quite a bit.

iA Writer.

iA Writer is an essential tool for anyone whose work involves a significant amount of writing. It presents a beautiful, simple, powerful, Markdown-compatible writing space and brags a feature called "Focus Mode." When you enable it, this mode dims all of the text that is not the current sentence (or paragraph, or whatever you choose) so that your eyes remain on the current thought. It drives the work forward by avoiding the editing-while-writing quicksand. iA Writer can also highlight syntax in different colors, revealing your love of adverbs or repetitive verb use. And it has "Night Mode," a white-on-black theme that saves the eyes during late-night projects.

In the end, the work is up to you. But you can help yourself finish projects more quickly and efficiently with the help of the apps above.

Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture reviews for Popdust and travel writing for The Journiest. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.