savings

Five Great Financial Apps That Are Free

Take control of your personal finances with these money-saving mobile apps.

I probably don’t need to tell you that it can be a challenge staying on top of bills, tracking your spending, monitoring accounts and doing everything else that needs to be done to manage your money. Fortunately, there’s assistance at your fingertips. A multitude of apps that you can quickly download on a mobile device can help you take charge of your finances.

Here are five, in particular, that we like because they can help you save money by tracking your spending, avoiding fees and hidden charges, maximizing credit card rewards and automating deposits into savings accounts. All are free, work on both Android and iOS devices, and boast high-level security.

BillGuard. This app helps you save money by alerting you to hidden fees and unwanted charges on your credit card, debit and bank accounts that you may not know you’re paying. The best part is the app can contact a merchant on your behalf to cancel or dispute a charge. It also sends alerts when there is a data breach at a store where you have shopped. To link to your accounts through the app, type in your account usernames and passwords. The added benefit is that you can keep track of all of your accounts in one place with the app.

Mint Bills. This app, formerly known as Check, was launched as a Mint product in December 2014. However, it still is separate from the popular Mint personal finance app, which Kiplinger frequently recommends. It lets users see and pay their bills from one place. You’ll get reminders when bills are due so you aren’t hit with late fees. There are also alerts about any overage charges or suspicious activity on your accounts, or when your funds are low or credit limits are near.

Level Money. If you don’t like to budget but need help controlling your spending, this is the app for you. Level Money tracks your income and expenses and lets you know how much spendable cash you have for the day, week and month. It’s aimed at millennials and is meant to simplify finances. So it’s not as comprehensive as other budgeting tools – but that’s the point.

SavedPlus. This app makes saving – actually putting money into a savings account – easy and automatic. When you make a purchase, it moves a percentage of the amount you spend from your checking account into your savings account. You get to choose the savings percentage from 5% to 20%. SavedPlus claims that its users save, on average, $350 a month. The key, of course, is to make sure you have enough in your checking account to cover the transfers to your savings account.

Wallaby. This app from Wallaby Financial, a subsidiary of Bankrate, helps you get the most out of your credit cards. It’s ideal for people who have rewards credit cards because it tells you which of your cards to use for each purchase to earn the most cash back or rewards points. It also lets you know which cards to use based on the cards’ interest rates and fees. You don’t have to provide any personal information other than an email address and the types of cards you carry. However, you can link your card accounts with the app to get recommendations on which card to use based on balance, spending limits and statement due date -- not just rewards. And this enables the app to keep a tally of the rewards you’ve earned and other useful information, such as whether you’re near your credit limit on a card. Plus, the app can recommend whether there are other rewards cards that will be a better fit for your spending habits.

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