Saving is difficult. If you’re already struggling to make ends meet it can be almost impossible to set aside some money for savings. This is where an automatic savings app can be a game changer. In other words, apps that can automatically save a little bit of money whenever you can afford it. Automatic savings apps operate in the background, saving on the go: you might not even notice that you are saving. Read on to discover how an automatic savings app can build a big pot of savings.
Choosing the savings app that works best for you depends on your individual circumstances. Let’s take a look:
The size of your savings. Some apps are great for people with large investment portfolios. Robo-advisors such as Betterment or Stash can deliver big returns on larger investments while charging minimal annual fees, as low as 0.25%. But these apps won’t make it any easier to save unless you can already afford to commit fixed monthly amounts to a savings account.
Choice of investment products. Savings apps can be divided into two camps: those offering users in-depth choices around investment products and risk levels, and those which offer a simple saving service. If you want simplicity, pick apps like Digit or Acorns which makes saving straightforward. Have a big sum to invest? Consider Betterment or another robo-advisor instead.
Your propensity to save. Last but most important: remember that zero savings mean zero returns. If you never save, investment concerns such as fees, charges, returns, and portfolio choices won’t make any difference whatsoever. Instead, choose an app that makes it easy to save – an automatic savings app like Digit or Acorns.
One of the easiest ways to save is by rounding up your bank transactions. A round up savings app work just like it used to in the old days, you save by putting spare change in a container.
Acorns is a round up savings app and it works like this: Acorns takes your credit or debit card transactions and rounds up the amount to the nearest dollar. Spend $4.70 on groceries and the app rounds up the transaction to $5.00, transferring $0.30 to savings.
What’s great about a round up app: Acorns is a great option if you like the idea of saving without even noticing that you are saving. Acorns will work really well for people who constantly use their debit and credit cards for small transactions. The $1/month fee charged by Acorns is competitive compared to the app most similar to Acorns, Digit.
What’s not so good about a round up app: Though the $1/month fee does not sound like a lot it can quickly eat into your savings if you are not saving a lot. Save $10 a month, for example, and you will pay 10% in fees. Also, if you mostly pay in cash Acorns won’t get the opportunity to make savings for you because it can’t round up cash transactions.
What users say about a round up app: Acorns is the only round up app, and it gets pretty good reviews. On the Apple App Store users give Acorns 4.7 / 5 saying that they like how Acorns can help them save money when they otherwise wouldn’t. Android users are also very happy with Acorns, rating it 4.3 / 5 with mostly good reviews, but there is the odd complaint about poor customer service from Acorns.
We’ve just looked at a very simple way of saving automatically, the round up app. But Digit offers a more advanced savings algorithm: in fact, Digit analyses your financial behavior month in, month out and saves when it thinks you can afford it. The amounts saved are larger than with a round up app, but Digit may make fewer attempts at saving.
What’s great about the Digit app: Just like Acorns, Digit is a great way to save when you know you would otherwise never get around to it. The app claims that it has an intelligent way of saving when you can afford it while also offering protection against overdrafts and very low balances (it transfers your saving back if you’re at risk of an overdraft).
What’s not so good about the Digit app. First, Digit’s $2.99 monthly fee is a source of concern. If you save $100 a month you will lose almost 3% of what you save in that month. That said if Digit can help you to significantly save you may feel, just like Acorns, that the monthly fee is worth the sacrifice. Another potential issue is that Digit’s algorithms could catch you out, saving more than you can afford to but the overdraft and low balance protection should guard against this.
What users say about the Digit app: Plenty of people have reviewed Digit on both Apple’s and Google’s app stores. iOS users give Digit 4.8 / 5 saying that they love saving without making any effort, in fact, one user said that they saved up $5,000 using Digit. Android users score the app 4.5 / 5 on the Google Play store, also expressing their overall satisfaction, but occasional reports of technical glitches surface.
If you are saving a small amount the variety of ETFs and stocks you can pick from are probably not particularly important to you. Instead, focus on choosing the automatic savings app that saves in a way that suits you best.
Of course, if you can save a large fixed amount every month, you can automatically save much more, and your end goal should be to manage your finances in a way that enables you to do that. Yet doing that requires real financial planning. In the meantime, you can benefit from automatic savings apps like Acorns and Digit which save a little bit at a time.