Apps to help you save money

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30 Responses to “Apps to help you save money”

  1. Arthur Delaney says:

    I like Mint but I really wish they’d offer a way to download the old Ipod Touch Gen. 2 compatible version which apparently still works if you’ve already got it, but I joined Mint too late.

  2. M Carlson says:

    How ’bout some recommendations for Android? Not all of us are Apple users. :(

  3. SamSam says:

    SmartyPig sounded sketchy, but apparently it’s just created a single savings account for you at a regular bank, BBVA Compass, and then it’s just an app on top of that to allow you to partition your money up into different pots.

    It seems pretty smart, and mostly it seems like something that all banks could be offering. There’s no real need for your money to be held in a different bank, your Bank of Whatever account could do this with an app like this. Essentially, we’re hopefully entering an age where online banking starts being actually smart and even app-like, instead of just being a stripped down version of what you can do at a counter.

    One question for me is whether there’s a way you can protect your savings against your own bad habits with SmartyPig. Since you can apparently stop a goal at any time and send any portion of the money back to your checking account, there’s nothing preventing you from breaking into your “college fund” piggy bank on a weekly basis. If they made it a little harder — you have to wait five days if you want to terminate a goal early, or something — people might stick to their habits better.

  4. Peter Ellis says:

    Snowball method gives quickly visible results, but is not necessarily the best way to reduce debt.  The most efficient way is to use the extra each month to reduce whichever debt is currently charging you the highest interest rate – not necessarily the same as the smallest current balance.

    On the other hand, the snowball method does allow you to reduce your minimum monthly liability, so it gives you more breathing space if things get harder in the future.

    • dculberson says:

       You’re right, of course, that paying off the balances subject to highest interest rates saves you the most money, and so makes the most sense from a strictly rational point of view, it does not provide the positive feedback that paying off a debt and getting to “forget” about it does.  The snowball method is very effective at providing that much needed reinforcement that checking something off a list provides.  It’s purely due to human nature, but any strategy for debt reduction that ignores human nature is doomed to fail for the majority of people.

      Plus, hopefully the difference between your highest and lowest percentage debt isn’t that huge.  If you’ve got a 32% penalty interest rate on some big balance, by all means pay that off first.  But if the difference is, say, 7% versus 10%, you’re not going to save a ton of money by paying the 10% balance off a couple months early.

    • robdobbs says:

      From the iTunes description:❖Pay Off Strategies- Supports Multiple Payoff Strategies .✓ Lowest Balance✓ Highest Interest Rate ✓ Highest Balance ✓ Custom Order

  5. xzzy says:

    Mint would be a whole lot better if they allowed grouping categories into a single budget. Googling around apparently the request for it has been in place for years, and yet it never seems to happen.

    It’d also be nice if there was a way to subtract static monthly expenses (such as rent) from your available pool of money. Applying a budget to these costs really makes no sense as you can’t adjust how much your house costs, and yet that’s the only way you can account for the expense.
    It’s still a pretty useful site.. just not as useful as it could be. 

  6. MrEricSir says:

    I tried Mint for well over  a year before I got sick of it.  Their calculations for my accounts were consistently wrong (off by more than two significant figures) and their customer service refused to help on the rare occasions they bothered to respond to me at all.   Entirely worthless service.

    Mint is owned by Intuit, which makes me question how accurate TurboTax is.  If they can’t even handle grade school math, why would I expect them to handle my taxes properly?

    • ChicagoD says:

      I don’t use TurboTax, but the IRS apparently approves of its use, so I guess that makes it relatively low-risk (if not accurate).

    • SamSam says:

      What kind of calculations were wrong on Mint? What kind of calculations do they even do? Don’t they just pull the data from your accounts and report what you spent?

      Are they adding wrong?

      I’ve never seen any mistakes, and am confused as to how a program can get basic math wrong (I always roll my eyes when I see people checking the math on receipts they’ve been handed), but you’ve made me worry about whether I should double-check my Mint account.

      • agamergirl says:

         Not sure what MrEricSir was referring to in particular, but at least when I used it, it calculated a whopping 600 something dollars going to alcohol and bars in one month. I buy maybe a six pack every 2 weeks, so this is definitely not useful information.

        • SamSam says:

          I’m still confused because the answer to that kind of question is very easy to find on Mint.

          I noticed it thought I was spending a lot on fast food. So I actually went and looked at all my transactions. Sure enough, it was counting my purchases of subway passes as fast food (our system in boston just lists itself in transactions as “Subway,” so I could see how it got confused). I just re-classified them all as transportation and it sorted itself out.

          At the end of the day Mint is just an automated Quicken. You can see all the transactions, and how it got them. It’s not a black box.

          And no, I still really don’t think it ever adds up wrong.

      • MrEricSir says:

        Are they adding wrong?

        I don’t know, Inuit products don’t show their math.  Every month, Mint insisted I’d spent over $16,000 on “other” in my budget.  Why?  Who knows — but if I really spent that much every month I’d be bankrupt pretty fast. 

        I actually went through and tried to guess how they’d come up with that number and added up all my transactions.  Even if you added up all the items Mint could see, my budget never even hit $3000 in a month.

        If you’re going to make a service like this you NEED to show the math.  Otherwise, it’s worthless.

        • SamSam says:

          The only math in Mint is addition. And computers don’t get addition wrong. They really don’t.

          When you click on a budget, you get all the transactions it’s counting towards that budget. The totals on the left add up to the number in the budget. I don’t know what other math they could show, besides sticking little “+” symbols next to each number to show that they’re all added together.

          If the results confused you, then there’s something wrong with their UI or explanations — I’m not saying that that’s not possible, and there’s a lot about Mint I find annoying. But to just dismiss them (and TurboTax) by saying that they “get the math wrong” is just being naive about computers. If computers couldn’t add correctly, you couldn’t possibly be typing out your comment on a complex browser running on an operating system.

          • MrEricSir says:

            Computers don’t get math wrong, but programmers do.  Trust me, I’m a programmer and I make tons of mistakes.

            Fact is,  they did get the math wrong in my account.  I’m as baffled as you, but the transactions on all my bank accounts each month simply did not add up to the number they claimed.  Furthermore this happened every single month, with the same error and roughly the same amount — $16,000.

            Their customer service refused to help, aside from suggesting I delete all my accounts and start over. Which I did.  And guess what?  Complete waste of time, since the problem was still there when I added my accounts back.

            When it comes down to it, why trust an accounting application that doesn’t show its work?

  7. There’s also ClearCheckbook.com which has a main website, mobile optimized website and an application for iOS, Android and WebOS.

    All of the mobile apps sync directly with the main website which makes it great for couples who have joint accounts so they can always check their latest balances.

    The site has reporting, account balancing, budgets, bill tracking, reminders/recurring transactions, a debt snowball tool and other helpful features.

  8. Jessica Dunlap says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on Smarty Pig! I’ve been looking for something like this, because I am terrible at saving money. Today I started saving towards a new car!

  9. robdobbs says:

    Does anyone here mind that all their money data gets uploaded to some 3rd party site though? I would like to have all this info at my ipad finger tips, but I don’t think I really wanting some pig website knowing I’m saving up to buy a syban and a leopard.

    • . says:

       That’s the whole thing with those sites with me. It’s bad enough with the card companies knowing everything, but I want to limit who has access to what.
      BTW, I paid everything off a few years ago, so I am throwing most of that money into retirement now. I could spend like a drunken sailor with all the additional disposable income, but with it automatically going to retirement I don’t have it, so I don’t spend it. (driving a 10 year old car and watching a 12 year old TV)

    • Arthur Delaney says:

       The innocent have nothing to fear from the new technology age. (Your bank account has been flagged for inspection. Please do not leave the state. Thank you for being a valued customer.)

  10. is there anything similar to mint for us in the UK?

  11. bbonyx says:

    I prefer to just use my own discipline and Quicken to accomplish all of this, but I have a question…
    Do the SmartyPig piggy banks earn interest? Because if you’re moving money from interest-bearing accounts to non-I-B ones, then you’re foolishly giving up some cash.

    And if *any* of your money is sitting in non-I-B accounts then you’re not maximizing your return. Even completely free, feature-rich checking with a small interest rate can be found online i.e. Schwab, Wells Fargo, etc.

    And snowballing is for the myopic. Pay off your highest rates first, otherwise you’re just thinking short term and paying more in the long game. It’s that sort of perspective that caused people to get in over their heads with ARMs in the last decade. There is no easy ride.

    Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it and don’t leverage it if you don’t have the discipline to pay it off on schedule.

  12. kevinv says:

    I use Ing Direct to do what Smarty Pig does. I can setup as many savings accounts as I want and setup automatic transfers. My paycheck is auto-deposited, and then immediately the amounts I want to go into each account are transferred.   Since the transfers are all instant, I can put the money back in the checking account as soon as needed (my car & house funds are for emergency repairs, so I usually need quick access to those accounts on occasion.)

  13. 5ynic says:

    Yeah I haven’t found either method works for me personally.

    Sure, the snowbal method gets wins, and is motivational.

    Sure, “highest interest first” is strictly speaking the most efficient.

    Real life isn’t usually so neat however… when deciding which debts to pay off first, other realities intervene. Here’s just 3 examples:

    1. I’m poor, so the reality is I may need to go back into debt if I have a major life setback . Example: I am pretty sure the bank ain’t gonna take away my credit card limit, currently a rather good deal (for a credit card) at 11%, whereas, being a contractor and having previously negotiated a car-loan when I was working as a permie, at a relatively cruddy 12.5% interest, there’s a strong chance that if I paid that off, and then had the misfortune to wreck the car in some way that the insurance didn’t cover, I would probably not (as a contractor with no job security) qualify for another car loan at any sane rate of interest, and my total effective liquidity would be reduced by some $20K dollars.

    2. My relationships with different credit provision institutions have (sometimes vastly) different levels of importance, when it comes to maintaining a good credit record. At the end of the month, if I’m short of cash, and I owe the guy who delivers bottled gas to our house $100, and there’s a $30 penalty for not paying by the end of the month and my paycheque is coming in on the 2nd of the month and something has to give… well, I’ll wear that 30% interest penalty rather than risk my perfect mortgage payment record or car loan payment record, even though in practice I’d incur no penalty at all for being 2-3 days late on those repayments. Basically, the gas-delivery dude who gets paid in cash has zero ability to fuxxor my credit rating, and the others do.

    3. I don’t now owe any money to friends or family. In the past though, I have borrowed from family members when in dire straights, and I have usually paid them back ahead of interest bearing debt. Why? Because money isn’t the only measure of worth, and a combination of moral/emotional desire to do the right thing by the people who had helped me when in need, plus the logic that having future access to some interest-free lines of credit in extremis was an important thing to hold on to.

  14. I save money with TIME TRAVEL. Seriously though, that’s what I did when I lost my debit card. Here’s the explanation: http://yhoo.it/SavingMoneyWithTimeTravel

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