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Time: the one thing virtually everyone agrees they need more of (OK, maybe money too).
It’s no secret time and money are two of the biggest stressors in life. Luckily, there are tons of tools that can help you with your finances, so you spend less time worrying about them.
This article covers four ways to make your financial life easier, more efficient and way less stressful.
4 Ways to Spend Less Time Stressing About Money
1. Automate Your Budget
Do you have a smartphone? If so, you can skip using a spreadsheet to build your budget — this can be time-consuming, which is why you should let an app do it for you! Here are a few of the best budgeting apps.
Mint – Mint is probably the most well-known budgeting app. It helps you quickly create a budget and provides suggestions based on your spending patterns. It also tracks your bills and helps keep track of your credit score.
PocketGuard – PocketGuard doesn’t just help you budget and pay bills; it also finds ways you can save money, and will even negotiate your bills for you. One of my favorite features is “in my pocket,” which lets you know how much money is safe to spend for the week after you’ve paid all your bills and set money aside for savings.
Goodbudget – Goodbudget is the best fit for couples who want to stay on the same page. You can easily sync and share budgets through your iPhone, Android, and the web. This app utilizes the envelope method of budgeting, which centers around putting cash into categorized envelopes of what you can afford to spend that month. As you can imagine, carrying around tons of cash-filled envelopes isn’t always feasible, so Goodbudget makes it easier to visualize and stick to your budget.
2. Save Money the Easy Way
Saving money is essential, but it’s hard to find the right way to save. Manually transferring money over to savings accounts can be difficult sometimes — maybe you forget to, or just don’t have it in the budget that week.
Instead of saving large chunks of cash at one time, use a savings app to round up your purchases and save up little by little. The following automatic savings apps help you save small amounts each time, but they each work a little differently.
Qapital – Everyone I work with knows how much I love Qapital. It helped me save about $1,000 in a seven-month time span without even thinking about it. I continue to use it to save for various expenses, such as an emergency fund, car repairs, and a dream vacation.
How does this app work? First, you set a savings goal and the amount you need to save. Then, you pick how you want to save money. You can round up purchases, save $X every time you shop at a specific place or save a percentage of each paycheck. There are tons of different rules to choose from, so it’s 100% customizable to however you want to save money. From there, Qapital does all the work, and you get to sit back and watch that balance grow!
Digit – While Qapital is exceptionally customizable, Digit has a sophisticated algorithm that determines how much you can afford to save based on your spending patterns. Some days it might put away $20, others it won’t save a penny. This app is truly a hands-off saving experience, whether you’re saving to pay off credit card debt or book a fancy cruise.
3. Become an Investor — No Financial Advisor Required
If you’re looking to grow your money, you should probably be saving in an interest-bearing account or look into investing. While it might have seemed complicated and expensive in the past, financial tech has made it easier, and cheaper, to become an investor.
No, you won’t reach “Wolf of Wall Street” status, but it’s a good way to earn a little interest on your savings — plus you get to call yourself an investor! Here are a few apps to help you achieve investor status.
Stash – All you need to start investing with Stash is $5. Once that first $5 deposit hits, you’re able to start building a personalized portfolio. With Stash, you aren’t investing in full shares of stocks — your money is going into Electronically Traded Funds (ETFs), which is a bundle of portions of stocks and bonds. Stash groups together these ETFs based on causes, foundations, and industry such as “clean and green,” “women who lead” and “internet titans.” This lets you choose where your money is invested, all while supporting causes you feel strongly about. If you’re interested in learning more, this review of Stash covers more about how it works.
Robinhood – Robinhood is one of the few investment apps where you’re actually buying whole company shares. Since you’re trading full-fledged stocks, it will require a bit of research and capital on your part to know where to invest. This app is entirely free to use, so it’s a great way to learn how to trade stocks on your own without paying commission or fees typical to trading.
4. Earn Cash Back When You Shop
Everyone’s gotta shop, right? Whether it’s groceries, online shopping or stopping by your local coffee shop, we’re always spending money.
While it’s painful to part with your hard-earned cash, there are tons of apps that give you money back for these everyday purchases. If you haven’t signed up for these apps yet, you’re missing out on some easy money!
Ibotta – Ibotta gives you cash back for regular grocery store purchases on virtually any store. You’ll earn money for shopping at places such as Target, Walmart, Dollar General and even Amazon. It’s as easy as checking out what rebates are available in the app, going about shopping as usual and scanning your receipt once you’re home.
Dosh – Dosh gives you cash back both for shopping at all kinds of places, such as restaurants, clothing stores, hotels and even local businesses. One of my favorite local coffee shops is on the app, so I don’t have to feel guilty every time I stop for a cold brew!
Top Apps to Automate Your Budget
These apps allow you to automate virtually every aspect of your finances: saving money, budgeting, investing and even making a little extra cash. With all these tools in place, you’ll spend way less time stressing about money, plus you’ll have peace of mind knowing all your finances are already taken care of.
Jacquelyn Pica is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Find her on Twitter @JacquelynTPH.