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FINANCE

5 Next Level Personal Finance Apps

What you'll learn:What personal finance apps to use to your advantage

EXPECTED READ TIME: 4 MINUTES

by Tracy Scott

Figuring out how to simplify the management of your finances can be a challenge. While many people understandably start with a simple mobile banking app, there are personal finance apps out there that can take your money management to the next level.

Mobile banking apps provide an easy way to deposit checks, pay bills, and quickly view account balances, but they typically don't go beyond that. Some of the best personal finance apps can help you with budgeting and credit management. Adding those apps to your arsenal might be the missing piece of the puzzle for you.

Let's talk about some of the best personal finance apps available.

Credit Report Apps

A good credit score can open many doors. Lower interest rates, better loan repayment terms, and more.

One often overlooked task is monitoring your credit reports. Unexpected changes to your reports could indicate a reporting error or identity theft — and both situations can destroy what may have taken you years to build.

A credit reporting app can alert you to changes when they occur, so you can correct errors or stop identity thieves in their tracks. Two of the most well-known credit reporting apps are offered by the major credit reporting bureaus: Experian and TransUnion. Equifax does not offer a mobile app, but you can access your credit information by visiting their website.

Experian App

The Experian app allows you to keep a close eye on your credit report and credit score.

Here are some pros:              

  • Free alerts of credit report changes
  • Free, automatic FICO® credit score updates every 30 days
  • Free credit account history and debt summary report
  • Free set-up with Experian Boost, which allows you to benefit from on-time rent, mobile phone, and Netflix account payments
  • Ability to dispute errors in-app at no cost

Here are some cons:

  • Monthly charge for real-time alerts where time is of the essence, such as identity theft monitoring and attempted credit inquiries
  • Monthly charge to view credit report data from Equifax and TransUnion

TransUnion App

While the TransUnion app doesn’t offer quite as many free credit-related services, their identity theft protection is free, which makes this a great personal finance app.

Here are some pros:                                      

  • Offers TrueIdentity, a free ID protection service that includes unlimited TransUnion credit reports, alerts, and $25,000 in ID theft insurance

Here are some cons:  

  • Monthly charge for alerts where time is of the essence, such as when someone applies for credit in your name or other changes are made to your credit history report
  • Monthly charge to view credit report data from Equifax and Experian

You can obtain a free copy of each of your credit history reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Federal law permits you to request one from each bureau every 12 months at no cost.

Budgeting Apps

Tracking your daily, weekly, and monthly spending can help you stick to your budget and achieve your financial goals. But keeping an eye on every dollar can feel like a full-time job. Budgeting apps can help you simplify and organize your finances with a few finger swipes.

Most personal finance apps that offer budgeting services are free to download and allow you to use certain features at no cost. Others may offer a free trial period, after which you must pay a subscription fee to access all of the app's features.

Here are a few to consider.

Goodbudget App

The Goodbudget app is based on the envelope budgeting system, where you designate a pre-set dollar amount to each expense category. Once an envelope is empty, you avoid further spending in that category until your next scheduled deposit.

Here are some pros:

  • Allows followers of the envelope budgeting system to go paperless
  • Works well for couples or individuals who share finances
  • A "free forever" plan is available (with limited features)

Here are some cons:

  • Envelope budgeting can feel too restrictive for some people
  • It's easy to swap money between categories, which can lead to overspending

PocketGuard App

When you connect all your financial accounts to the PocketGuard app, you can keep track of your spending and net worth simultaneously.

Here are some pros:

  • Helps identify unwanted subscriptions so you can cancel them
  • Automatically calculates how much money you have leftover for spending after bills are paid
  • Ability to add cash transactions, which is useful if you pay bills or receive payments in cash
  • Provides a spending-analysis pie chart so you can see spending by category
  • Allows you to set spending limits for disposable income

Here are some cons:

  • Customer service is only available in-app or by email, and phone support is not available

Intuit Mint App

Like PocketGuard, you must link your financial accounts to fully take advantage of the Intuit Mint app. But unlike some personal finance apps, this one is totally free, making it one of the best options available.

Here are some pros:

  • Completely free
  • Offers more features than other comparable apps, such as free access to your credit score
  • Ability to receive customized savings tips based on account activity

Here are some cons:

  • You must agree to receive no-obligation marketing communications from their partners (this keeps the app free)

How to Decide Which Personal Finance Apps are Best for You

If you're not sure which of the above personal finance apps to use, test drive them over the next 60 days. This should allow enough time to determine which one is the best match for your personality and lifestyle.

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