8 Recommended Tools to Automate Your Finances

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We all know saving money is an important, grownup thing to do, but at times it can feel difficult.

When that paycheck hits your checking account, it can feel painful to move that money over into your savings account—even though you know that would be the responsible action.

The solution? Automation. Automating a monthly or biweekly transfer from checking to savings takes the sting out of having less cash to spend this month. Because you won’t have to manually move the money yourself, you’re less likely to even notice it’s gone.

Automation can solve other personal finance issues, too.

Hate budgeting? With the power of apps, you can now automate the entire budgeting process, making it easier to make wise financial decisions.

Automation can also help you out in the realms of spending and investing.

To begin on your path towards healthier finances and less stress, read this primer in full to learn about 21st-century technology that can help you reach your money goals faster.


Read: Easy Guidelines for Automating Finances

Automate Your Budget

While automation can go a long way towards helping you with your financial goals with less mental energy, your budget is still the cornerstone of your financial stability.

It is, in fact, helpful to know how much you can spend on entertainment in any given month, if you’re going to have enough money to hit your bills, etc. These two companies are taking the pain out of budgeting so you’ll actually do it.

1 – Tiller

When you budget with Tiller, you can track all of your expenses painlessly. Purchase categories will be assigned automatically, allowing you to see where your money actually goes every month.

If you’re happy with your spending habits, you can easily use this data to plan ahead and make future budgets. Our users relate that all of our automated features make Tiller the fastest and simplest way to budget on a regular basis.

Monthly fee: Effectively $4.92
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: Cloud access—accessible from any device.

2 – Simple

Simple Bank

Simple is an online bank that comes with a linked debit card and app. That app is the key to its budget automation tools.

By establishing your savings goals and monthly obligations like rent and the electricity bill, you’re giving Simple the information it needs to do some behind-the-scenes math and let you know how much money is “Safe to Spend.”

If you’ve got $10 in your Safe-to-Spend category, you can decide if that $5 latte is really going to be worth it, or if you’d rather have enough for the cover fee at that show your friend invited you to tonight.

You know you’ve got the necessities and your saving goals covered, so you can make smart, guilt-free decisions about where you’ll spend the rest of your finite financial resources.

Monthly fee: None
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

Automate Spending

Most of us have a little spending devil sitting on our shoulder.

This is the guy that tells us we deserve things because we work really hard, even when we can’t afford them. He tells us to not worry about our budgets and to burn that cash because we only live once.

But what if you had an angel on your shoulder to counter that devil? One that would give you a jab in the ribs every time you went to make a stupid money decision?

It’s probably best that we don’t have any physically aggressive spending angels outside of metaphors, but these apps are the next best thing.

3 – Chime

Chime Bank

Chime is actually a checking account that is linked to an app. It comes with a branded VISA card, and every time you use it to spend, you’ll get a message from the app.

This message will tell you how much you just spent, and remind you what your current account balance is. Even if that devil’s encouraging you to ignore your money stats, Chime comes to the rescue with that little, instantaneous reminder each and every time.

This reminder can also alert you to fraudulent charges should you become a victim of identity theft.

Chime also has an automatic savings tool. Should you choose to use it, your purchases will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. The difference will be deposited into your Chime savings account.

Monthly fee: None
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

4 – Moven

Moven

Moven also sends you a notice every time you make a purchase, presenting many of the same advantages as Chime.

However, in addition to the notices, the first thing you’ll see when you open the app is your spending meter.

It could be a happy green, which means you’re on budget for the month. It could also be yellow like a card, warning you that your spending is getting a little out of hand and you need to reel it in.

If you ignore your yellow card, your meter will turn emergency red, meaning your spending has gotten so out of control you need to address the problem right this very minute.

Monthly fee: None
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

Automate Saving

When it comes to putting money into your savings account, you can do so by setting up an automatic transfer with your bank every month. If you want to go above and beyond, though, you can use one of these apps which automatically put small amounts of money into your savings account. The little bits truly do add up over time!

The following apps do come with a monthly fee. Be sure to do some math to figure out if the amount you’d be saving would be worth the cost.

5 – Qapital

Qapital

Yes, Qapital allows you to round up to the nearest dollar and save the difference like many of the other apps listed here, but it does so much more. Essentially, you set up savings goals and then apply “if/then” rules to fund those goals.

For example, “If I get paid, Qapital will automatically set aside XX% for my self-employment taxes.” Or, “If I go to Starbucks, Qapital will automatically send an additional $20 toward my savings goal.”

The number of if/then rules you can set up is limitless and can help you reach your savings goals that much faster without even thinking about it. This year, Qaptial also added banking services and its own VISA debit card.

Monthly fee: $3-$12
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

6 – Digit

Digit

Digit doesn’t round to the nearest dollar, but what it does do is evaluate how much money you wouldn’t miss if you had the self-discipline to save more on your own.

Every two to three days, it looks at your checking account and spending habits using some heavy-duty math to figure out an amount between $5 and $50 that would be safe to transfer to your Digit savings.

They’re pretty darn confident in their algorithm; if Digit causes you to overdraw, they’ll take care of the overdraft fees for you and get you in the black.

They only offer this service twice, but in the unlikely event it does happen to you two times, you might want to reevaluate the relationship anyways.

Monthly fee: $2.99
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes, you must link a funding account—ideally your primary checking—to your Digit account.
Platform: iPhone & Android

Automate Investing

Investing is almost always better when it’s automated. You don’t want to get all emotional when there’s a dip in the market. And you don’t want to spend too much time reallocating your assets, which usually doesn’t turn out well for your money in the long run.

On top of automating where your investments are allocated, you may want to automate the amount of money you’re actually investing.

There are no shortage of apps out there that operate much like Qapital for investment accounts, rounding up to the nearest dollar and putting the difference into the market. Here are two of our favorites.

7 – Acorns

Acorns Investing

Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, but instead of saving the difference, it invests the difference. If you shop at select retailers, you’ll even get the equivalent of investing cash-back up to 10% through Acorns’ Found Money program.

If you use this app with an Acorns investing account, you’ll be able to throw that money towards investments held in tax-advantaged retirement accounts.

Not only do you get to move small amounts of money into your retirement account regularly, but Acorns figures out the asset allocation for you, making the entire automated process effortless.

Monthly fee: $1-$3
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

8 – Stash

Stash

For those who are interested in socially-conscious investing, another great app to look at is Stash. You use the app to set up automatic investments, and you can make additional contributions whenever you feel like it.

While you don’t have to put the money into a tax-advantaged retirement account, doing so is a smart move.

You’ll be able to pick from a litany of potential portfolios, including “Women Who Lead,” “Water the World,” “Equality Works,” and “Combat Carbon.” These portfolios are preconstructed, meaning that you don’t have to do a thing to manage asset allocation. You can also opt to invest in individual stocks, but that’s an inherently riskier move.

Monthly fee: $1-$2
Outside financial accounts can be linked: Yes
Platform: iPhone & Android

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