Saving up for a down payment on a house has always been one of the biggest challenges for first-time homebuyers. Owning a home, and budgeting for additional expenses usually doesn’t make money management any easier.
Fortunately, in the modern age, there are many online tools and smartphone apps to help you gain better control of your budget and make better spending choices. Here are just a few to consider, all offering both iOS and Android apps:
Simple(link is external) – This online banking account offers fee-free checking as well as an ingenious little app for your phone that makes it easy to set savings goals, for specific purposes, and leaves you a “safe to spend” figure so you know how much money is available, above and beyond your scheduled expenses and saving goals.
Qapital(link is external) – Another free online banking service that also supports saving goals, offering several customizable savings “rules,” like rounding up purchases made with the card (the balance is earmarked for savings), or scheduling payments into goal accounts based on the calendar or various trigger activities (e.g., throw $5 into my save-for-Thailand account every time I go to Starbucks).
Acorns(link is external) – A painless way to start investing, using your current credit and debit cards. Once linked up, your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar, putting the “spare change” in a small investment account. It’s also easier to balance your accounts at the end of the month with even dollar amounts! Costs $1.00 a month, but is free to college students (for four years from date of registration).
Mint(link is external) – A free full-featured money management website and smartphone app that combines budgeting and bill payments, plus credit score monitoring. Built-in tools make it easy to stay on top of bills, analyze your current spending habits, and determine the best way to save.
Mvelopes(link is external) – Traditionally, “envelope budgeting” meant periodically stashing cash in different envelopes in order to save up enough to pay off a future bill (insurance premiums, a vacation, etc.). Mvelopes converts this style of budgeting into a digital platform, synced to your current checking account, credit cards, or other financial accounts. Costs as little as $4/month, with higher subscription levels including financial coaching.
Good Budget(link is external) – Another envelope budgeting system, but this version helps you stay on the same page with your significant other by syncing your budget and spending activities between more than one mobile device. Two plans are offered (free and $6/month).
Clarity Money(link is external) – A free award-winning app, Clarity Money can cancel accounts and subscriptions you no longer use, watch for fraudulent activity, help you save for goals, keep you apprised of your credit score, and offer better deals on your current rates on credit cards.
Larry Mitchell, Texas Realtor
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Killeen, Texas 76542