Saving money is hard. No matter how much you try to stash away your spare coinage, there’s always debt, bills, housing, and essentials to eat up ever last cent you have.
Yet if you plan carefully, cut a few costs here and there, and curb unnecessary spending, you could end up with a chunk of change in your savings account at the end of the month. There’s just one problem with this money-saving method: it’s boring af.
While you should save as much money as possible and should only spend on what’s necessary, doing so in your twenties and thirties would mean missing out on some life-changing purchases. Your first big-screen TV. A front-row seat at a T-Swift concert. These are the things that no one needs, but would look back on with remorse if they missed it while trying to aggressively save for the future.
Fortunately, you don’t need to avoid life’s niceties in the here-and-now if you want to save for the future. Thanks to three handy iOS and Android apps, you can be on your way to saving for the distant future without even thinking about it. You just need a bank account, an income, and a dream. (A phone helps, too).
Acorns invests your spare change in the stock market.
We wrote about Acorns before, but they’re really worth highlighting again. The Acorns app simply connects to your credit card and bank accounts and rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar. The remaining money from each transaction is then invested in an account tailored to your income, age, and risk tolerance.
For instance, if you buy a soda for $1.50, Acorns will round up the transaction to $2 and take 50 cents from your checking account and invest it. If you purchase a bag of chips for $1.89, the app will round up to $2 and take 11 cents from your checking account. These small “round-ups” add up, depending on what you spend each month, but they help you effortlessly put away money and invest it in the market. The app takes a small fee depending on your account balance, but it’s worth it if you’re interested in saving and investing without giving it much thought.
Digit is an automated savings account that talks back.
Digit analyzes your checking account and uses fancy computer logic to figure out how much you can afford to save. It then stealthily takes a small amount of money each month and puts it in a separate savings account. You can access this account at any time, and even withdraw from it — but only if you have to. The app also tells you (via text) how much you saved, how you’re doing, and even compliments you with GIFs on certain milestones.
The service charges a $2.99/month fee for their services (after a 100-day free trial), though this fee will likely pay for itself once you start saving like mad. Your money in Digit grows 1% annually, so a lot less than it would on the stock market. If you’re completely risk averse, then Digit might be the app for you.
Shift (formerly known as Milo) uses some of Acorns’ and Digit’s biggest draws to its advantage. It uses Acorns’ round-up method to take the remainder of each transaction from your checking account. Like Digit, it deposits those small amounts into a dedicated savings account, letting your money slowly and safely grow as you continue to save.
We don’t currently have details for Shift’s fees, but if they’re anything like the above apps, they’re completely manageable. If you like the round-ups feature of Acorns but want to avoid the risky stock market, Shift might be the way to go.
These apps work differently from one another, but achieve a similar result. If you want the chance to grow your money beyond the limits of a savings account and learn the stock market, Acorns is the app for you. If you want zero risk and an app that talks back, Digit might be your best bet. If you want to turn your everyday purchases into visible savings, you might want to check out Shift. Each service has their own fees and limitations, but isn’t it worth paying a bit to save money you would’ve otherwise spent?