Can you use your smartphone to save money? Yup.
Let’s talk about something a lot of us aren’t doing — saving money. You know, filling up the piggy bank? Putting something away for a rainy day? Hoarding a little extra cash with the future in mind? According to CNET, 29% of us have less than $1,000 saved up, which isn’t in the same universe as “retirement funds,” much less enough to keep us afloat in the case of an emergency.
Here’s something you probably are doing, though — using your smartphone almost daily. Ask yourself this: in between all of the Twitter feed scrolling and Facebook stalking, and outside of those Words With Friends turns, is your phone helping you in any other way? Is it helping you invest your funds, or put a little extra aside?
If it’s not, it can be. And today, we’re going to talk about three smartphone apps that can get you on a path toward a more sound savings situation.
We have to be honest — we positively love the name Acorns here, mostly because it conjures up the image of cute little squirrels stuffing their cheeks. Rather appropriately, Acorns encourages you to do the same with your money. How much of it should you keep? As much as you possibly can. And Acorns makes it incredibly easy to save by rounding up your purchases and investing your spare change into a diverse portfolio of stocks and bonds.
We like the way Acorns is set up to trade reliably on your behalf, doing all of the heavy lifting so you can keep on living your life. We do, however, wish there wasn’t a cost to use the app. But $1 a month in the grand scheme is a small price to pay to grow your savings. [iOS / Android]
If you’ve listened to a podcast at any time in the past year, you’ve likely heard of Robinhood. In terms of investing, Robinhood isn’t quite the TD Ameritrade guy who wants to play darts and shoot hoops with you. But it also doesn’t let you be as hands-off as Acorns. With Robinhood, you’re more in the driver’s seat, actually choosing the stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptos that you want to invest in, though Robinhood is notable in the way it makes the process of buying and selling more simple than many other trading platforms.
And one of the coolest things about Robinhood? Trading on the platform is entirely commission free. If you want a little more control over what you invest your savings in, and you don’t like the idea of getting dinged by fees when the goal is to not spend money, Robinhood is one of the better options out there. [iOS / Android]
Stash sits somewhere in between Acorns and Robinhood in the way it compels you to save money. At its core, the Stash app is built to get you interested in trading stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It has a built-in trading coach to get a sense of your investing preferences and help steer you in the right direction. In that regard, it’s more like Robinhood.
But Stash also uses the Acorns trick of getting you to save money invisibly in the background, whether you mean to or not. Acorns pulls this off by rounding up your purchases and investing the difference. Stash does it by giving you something called “Stock-Back,” which actually gives you a little bit of stock in the company you’re purchasing from. It’s not a significant amount for most companies — you’ll get 0.125% back for most purchases. But Stash does have partners that offer better Stock-Back rates. Spotify and Netflix, for example, give you 5% back in stock. And the company plans to add more as time goes on.
If you want a mix of investing and automatic saving — or automatic investing, anyway — Stash seems like a good middle ground. [iOS / Android]
But really, any of the above apps are a good option for you if you’re currently doing nothing. If you worry that an unforeseen expense could put your financial life in peril, the best thing you can do for yourself is download one of these apps and start making saving a habit. You’ll be glad you did.