Our phones have completely changed the way we manage our finances. Whether it’s paying a bill, transferring funds or checking out credit scores, you can do it all using a smartphone. Smartphone apps can be great at solving problems too, like how to save regularly. Acorns is one of the apps that help solve the savings problem. But there are plenty of apps like Acorns. We’ve already checked out the Acorns app here, in this article we will look at a few other savings apps you should consider.
Looking for a low-fee robo-advisor in the shape of an app? The Betterment app is just what you need. Unlike Acorns, Betterment does not automatically save on your behalf, but if you can manage to make a point of putting savings away on a regular basis Betterment’s low fees and solid range of ETFs can make it an excellent choice.
What’s great about Betterment: First, the fee structure with Betterment is very appealing. The app charges a flat 0.25% no matter how much you invest, and there is no minimum investment amount either. We like the solid range of ETFs on offer at Betterment, including the option to put your funds in value stocks, which can outperform the general market. As a bonus, you can get access to a human, personal investment advisor via Betterment Advisor Network.
Where Betterment falls short: People who struggle to put away money on a regular basis will benefit more if they use an app such as Acorns or Stash where savings are automatically transferred out of checking accounts on a regular basis, and in small increments. Betterment can automatically transfer funds, but for many people making a big monthly transfer for savings just isn’t an option.
How Betterment is rated: Users of Apple products give Betterment 3.7 / 5, saying that they like the investment platform, including its selection of ETFs and robo-advisory services. But some users criticize the iOS app itself, saying it is frustrating to use and often changes the information it shows about your portfolio. Android users are more positive, with a 4.4 / 5 score reflecting general praise and the occasional in-app glitch. More on Betterment app review
Betterment tends to offer a better solution for people with larger amounts to save. In contrast Stash, another robo-advisor, lets you save as little as $5 at a time. However, for balances less than $5,000 the fees on Stash comes to $1 a month which could end up more costly than the 0.25% charge levied by Betterment.
What’s great about Stash: Once you cross the $5,000 threshold the 0.25% charged by Stash is competitive with other robo-advisors. For your 0.25% you get a flexible investment tool with 30 different investment themes to pick from – you can even choose individual stocks. The fact that you can invest small amounts, as little as $5 at a time, can make Stash a great choice for people who find it hard to put large sums away.
Where Stash falls short: Just like Betterment, and unlike Acorns, Stash won’t put money away for you automatically. You need to deliberately save if you want to accumulate funds in a Stash account. For some people, the automatic savings features of Digit and Acorns would lead to a bigger savings pot in the long run.
How Stash is rated: iOS users like the Stash app and they like it a lot. The Stash app scores 4.7 / 5 on the iOS App Store, in fact, Stash is the number 17 app in the Finance category on iOS, with users saying that they like the fact that the small $5 investment minimum helps them to start a savings fund. Android users rate the app at 4.2 / 5, which is still pretty good. Users again like the fact that Stash provides an easy route to investing, but some complained about difficulties cancelling automated Stash contributions.
Just like Acorns, Digit is an app that automatically saves on your behalf. While Acorns rounds up transactions and saves small amounts at a time, Digit analyzes your monthly expenses and saves (in other words, transfers funds to a savings account) when it thinks you can afford to squirrel away some money.
What’s great about Digit: It can be tough to figure out when it is a good time to put money away. Even worse, many of us never save even when we have the opportunity. Digit overcomes this common problem by saving when you can most afford it. Have some extra cash? Digit will put it away for you. The app has several other useful features, including low balance and overdraft protection – it automatically transfers funds back into your account if you run out of money.
Where Digit falls short: Digit charges a $2.99 fee every month. In comparison, the fee for using Acorns is only $1/month, dropping to 0.25% p.a. if you have a large balance saved. The monthly Digit fee can make it an expensive option, but in return for the high fee you do benefit from a sophisticated algorithm that can help you meet your savings objectives.
How Digit is rated: Android users are very happy with the Digit app overall, scoring it 4.5 / 5. Just like Stash people like the fact that Digit makes it easy to save, saying that the sophisticated features are worth the monthly charge. iOS users are even more pleased with Digit, rating it 4.8 / 5 for similar reasons, but one user complained that the app got it wrong – automatically saving more than they could afford to save. More on Digit App – 3 things you should know
Picking a savings app in large part comes down to your individual savings habits. Yes, monthly fees and investment charges are important to think about, alongside investment returns and the ability to fine-tune your investment portfolio.
Yet if you never set money aside in the first instance, fees and portfolio choices won’t even be on the map. Instead, pick a savings app such as Acorns or Digit that helps you save when you otherwise would not. Even if the fees eat slightly into your savings the mere fact that you save could easily make up for it.