Let's face it, one of the worst parts of growing up is the quick realization that your parents were right: Money doesn't grow on trees. And managing the money you do have can be an intimidating, laborious process. In fact, it downright stinks.
While you can stick to the tried and true method of a paper ledger or checkbook, there are plenty of invaluable apps and web services built to help you save money, or make and stick to a budget.
Best of all, they don’t require a financial degree in order to understand and use them.
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
This aptly titled service claims to help its members set a budget and save money. YNAB is free to try for the first 34 days, after which it requires a membership of either $5 a month or $50 a year.
To get started with YNAB, you connect your various bank accounts and credit cards, and sort your purchases and expenses into categories. From there, set a goal (or goals) to save money or pay off debt. Then, you'll need to discipline to follow the budget set by the service.
The site claims its average user saves $3,300 after the first nine months of membership.
Included in the monthly fee is access to YNAB through its website, iOS, and Android apps.
One of the first popular online budgeting solutions, Mint takes the same approach as YNAB. You connect your spending accounts, categorize bills and expenses, and plan a budget. Along the way, Mint makes suggestions about how you can save more money.
For example, if the interest rate on your mortgage is high, Mint will help you find a lower rate.
The best part about Mint is that it costs you absolutely nothing. That’s right, Mint is a budgeting tool that doesn’t impact your budget.
You can sign up for Mint here. Mint also offers iOS and Android apps to help manage your money on the go.
If you feel like you have a solid handle on sticking to a budget but are unsure how to start saving money, give Digit a try.
Digit connects to your bank account and instantly begins analyzing your spending habits alongside your income. Once it's able to determine when you're least likely to either pay bills or make a big purchase, it withdraws a small amount of money. On average, Digit will make three withdraws a week, holding your funds in what amounts to be a savings account.
After signing up for Digit, all interaction with the service is done through text messages on your phone. You can increase or decrease how aggressive it is at saving money, make one-time deposits, or withdraws without ever touching an app.
Have you ever been asked if you'd like to round up a purchase to the nearest dollar amount and donate the amount to charity? Acorns does the same thing, only instead of donating it to a charity it deposits the rounded amount into a savings account on your behalf.
Say you purchase something for $22.42. Acorns will mark $.58-cents for withdraw. Once a week, the app will automatically tally the total roundups and transfer the amount from your checking account into your Acorns account.
The service then invests your money into an investment portfolio of your choosing.
Acorns is available for iOS, Android, or online. Acorns charges $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000. Accounts over $5,000, are charged .25% per year.
An owner of a small business wears many hats: janitor, customer service, sales, and, of course, accountant. Intuit's QuickBook is a staple of any small business, but it also means you're tied down to a single computer and managing company and its files.
With QuickBooks Online, you can still take advantage of invoices, reports, estimates, accept payments, and money management, but from nearly any device.
After the free 30-day trial, a subscription fee of $12.95 per month gives you access to the service through the company's mobile apps for Android and iOS. You can also use the desktop app or access the service through Intuit's website.
QuickBooks Self Employed
QuickBooks Self Employed is designed specifically for those who have to manage personal and business expenses out of the same checking or savings account.
Using the mobile apps, a user can swipe one direction to categorize an expense as personal while a swipe in the opposite direction tags it as a business expense.
As your income and expenses are separated, Quick Books Self Employed calculates your quarterly estimated tax payments. If you've ever had to deal with estimated taxes, you know how stressful it can be if you miscalculate and over or under pay.
QuickBooks Self Employed is currently discounted 50% at $4.99 a month.
Level Money connects to your checking, savings, and credit card accounts to help you better manage your money.
After setting up your account, you set a Plan to help save money or pay down debt. Your spending habits are color-coded by category, making it easy to quickly identify areas where you're over or under spending.
Best of all, Level Money gives you a daily, weekly, or monthly dollar amount you can spend while still saving and staying on top of your bills.
Level Money is free, and includes access from an iOS or Android device. You can finish the initial setup process through the registration site, after which any interactions with Level Money are done through the mobile app.
Every Dollar offers two different services. The core service is free, and gives you the tools to enter and track income and expense.
The service prides itself on using the Debt Snowball approach to help its users pay off outstanding debt in a fraction of the time it would normally take to pay it off.
Every Dollar Plus carries a $99 yearly subscription, and gives you the option to connect the service to your bank accounts. Doing so will automatically import and track transactions as they post to your bank account.
Unfortunately, Every Dollar doesn’t offer an Android app. Meaning, you’ll either have to access the service through your Android device’s browser or use the website on a computer. On the plus side, iOS users can take advantage of the free iOS app.
Another free option to help you better visualize your spending is an app called Wally. Available on iOS or Android, Wally doesn’t connect to your spending accounts. Instead, it relies on you to enter any expenses and income.
You can scan and save receipts for each transaction, making it easier to remember exactly how much you spent on lunch yesterday.
Furthermore, Wally will tag entered expenses using your location in order to speed up the process of adding items to your account.
As you continue adding finances to the app, you’ll begin to see spending habits and patterns. Which is what this is all about, right?
Goodbudget helps you save money using an “Envelope” budgeting system.
In essence, you create a digital envelope for each monthly expense. The envelope holds a set dollar amount, and at the end of the month any funds left in the envelope are then moved to savings.
A free Goodbudget account gives you limited envelopes, and access from two devices. A Plus account costs $5 a month or $45 a year, and provides access from five different devices along with unlimited envelopes.
Credit Karma is better known for its ability to monitor your credit report and alert you of issues, but it also offers budgeting tools.
Credit Karma members can set goals to pay down debt, and use budget tools to better understand how your spending can impact your debt (and by extension, your credit score).
Along with the budgeting tools, Credit Karma will still keep you updated on any changes to your overall score and any possible identity theft.
Credit Karma is free, so long as you don’t mind receiving suggestions for mortgage refinancing or credit cards with lower interest rates.