Getting my family’s finances in order after my job loss has been difficult. Luckily, I’ve found some help with these top 5 best personal finance apps that help users to create budgets and save money. Using these apps has helped me to be successful in modifying my family’s behavior so that we can stop living paycheck to paycheck and get our finances on track.
Mint is available for desktop users as well as Android and iPhone users. Just download the free app and this program makes it super easy to perform three tasks that I’ve found are absolutely necessary to get our finances in order: create a budget, track spending and save money.
I’ve linked my Mint account with most of my lenders, so that the program sends me payment reminders, and I also receive email notifications of any usual spending, or when I get close to maxing my budget in a certain category. All of the spending on my debit and credit cards is automatically entered and categorized, so that I can instantly see where my money is going without having to bother with complicated spreadsheets or calculations.
The program provides helpful hints about how and where I can save, and allows me to set multiple savings goals. Since I’ve started using this program, I was able to visually see and eliminate those tiny “budget busters” that add up over time. In just a few months, the program helped me to establish and fund a $500 and $1,500 short and mid-term emergency savings funds. So far, the main drawback that I’ve discovered with this program is that there are a few lenders that the program is unable to access and sync information with, so I have to manually update those accounts each month.
As part of creating and sticking to a budget, we’ve been looking for ways to reduce waste and save money. When we analyzed our family’s spending, we found that one of our family’s biggest expenditures was food. We were able to save quite a bit by eliminating fast food and now only rarely dine out. Groceries are still expensive, and there are reports and studies that show that most Americans waste over 40% of their food each year. My family wasn’t an exception to this startling fact.
By using free apps such as Big Oven, it’s easy to come up with new twists on common leftovers. Just pick three items you have on hand, and viola the app will give you an easy recipe that’s quick to make and delicious. This is especially handy for those times when you’ve made all of your regular “stand-by recipes,” and you are tempted to eat out just to have something “different” to eat. The app comes with features such as a meal planner and grocery lists as well. It’s available for desktop and PC users on the web, as well as for Android, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook and Windows phone users, and it’s free.
This is another great app that we’ve been using to save money on food. This app works with coupons.com so I don’t have to worry about printing out coupons, I just save them with the app and I can link my store savings cards as well. It also helps me to stay on track as I can easily create lists, sort items by aisle and even scan bar codes to add items. The program allows you to email and share lists and coupons as well. It’s free, and is available on the web, as well as for iPhone, Android, iPad and iPod Touch users.
This app makes it easy to compare prices for an item at different retailers. I just scan the barcode and the program searches and compares the prices at the online site for many top retailers. This not only helps me to save money on the actual purchase, but I save time as well as the gas I would have spent driving around looking for the lowest price on an item. A few weeks ago, I was able to save about $12 on a present for my daughter by comparing prices on a pair of jeans and a blouse. While $12 isn’t much in and of itself, saving a few dollars here and there on purchases I was going to make anyway does add up over time. In addition to making it easier to save money when shopping, the app provides other helpful information. One of my favorites is that it will locate the nearest location of a book that I want to read, and will include the library as well as stores and online shops in the search results. This shopping app is free, and available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone users.
This app has been around for several years, but I’ve not found anything that beats if for instantly giving me an easy to use, side by side comparison for the cost of gas at all of my area gas stations. It’s great to use at home, or even when I am on a trip. The app is free and I can access it on the web. It’s also available for Apple, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry devices. Even if I am only saving a penny or two a gallon, it all adds up in the end and helps me to be able to increase my family’s savings fund.
Of course, there are other apps that can help you and your family to track your finances and save money. Let me know in the comments section below if you’ve tried any of these apps to save money, or if you have any favorite personal finance apps that are helping you to stop living paycheck to paycheck.