Thankfully, the digital age has not only made it easier for us to order food, watch our favorite TV shows, and receive new clothes in hours, but also to saving money! Even while you’re in school, the best thing you can do for your financial future is to start saving money.
The first thing you need to do is get yourself on a budget. If you’re a spreadsheet wiz, you can start there. Determine how much you have to spend each month, then each category you need to spend in, i.e. food, rent, entertainment, transportation costs, etc. The trick is not to spend more than you have!
If a spreadsheet feels overwhelming, you should definitely try the top personal finance site, You Need a Budget. This budgeting app helps users learn to live on last month’s income. You Need a Budget directly imports transactions from bank accounts, but requires manual categorization by the user. The app says this helps you raise your awareness about your spending, and likely provides a harsh wakeup call when you are forced to view each Uber charge. Their envelope-based system allocates the exact amount of income available, putting a cap on spending. It costs $50 a year, but if you consider how much more you’ll know about your money, it might be worth it.
Once you have a budget, it can be easier to save money. If you have trouble remember to transfer funds into your savings account, there are tons of apps that can help you do it! Acorns is a hugely popular savings tool that helps users save more money by automatically investing change from each charge. So, for instance, if a transaction adds up to $1.50, Acorns rounds it up to $2 and sends that 50 cents into an investment portfolio diversified with ETFs. It’s a mindless way to save big, and has a low fee of $1 a month on account balances below $5,000 and 0.25% per year on balances of $5,000 or more. You can also set recurring or one time investments to boost your savings if you want to save more than a few cents at a time.
If you’re already a money pro, and want to manage it more professionally, Personal Capital is a good choice. If you are thinking about opening a business, purchasing a home, or are already starting to plan for retirement (it’s never too early!), you might find this site helpful. For personalized financial help, Personal Capital assigns users financial advisors that can answer questions about everything, including retirement planning, refinancing and obtaining a mortgage. The site also offers a 401(k) fee analyzer and a retirement planner, which crunches numbers to tell users whether they’re on track to meet their savings goals. An investment checkup tool looks at the asset allocation in a user’s investment accounts and recommends a target allocation.
Download these apps and you’ll be a financial wiz in no time! Tracking your spending and starting to save is a valuable skill that will come in handy for the rest of your life. Or, at least, you’ll figure out how much you’re spending on lattes.