25 Money-Saving Tools That'll Keep Your Budget on Track

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SMART MONEY

There's a dizzying array of apps and websites available these days to help with your personal finances. Some are designed to manage monthly income and bills, while others help you prepare for retirement, shop smarter, or invest wisely. There are even apps that negotiate cheaper cable bills, cancel unused subscriptions, and help you save on travel expenses. With so many options vying for space on your smartphone and in your life, it can be hard to decide which are best. Here are some of the most notable choices in the world of personal finance apps.
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LENDEDU.COM

What it does: Compares Loans and Credit Cards
LendEDU is a comparison website for consumer financial products such as student loan refinancing, personal loans, and credit cards. It's designed to provide users with price transparency from more than 30 financial institutions. In other words, the site allows consumers to get multiple quotes in one place, instantly comparing offers and costs.

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BIRCH FINANCE

What it does: Manages Credit Card Rewards
The average consumer misses out on hundreds of dollars annually in credit card rewards by using the wrong cards in their wallet. Birch Finance, however, has created a service designed to help users manage rewards programs and points. To do this, Birch plugs into your bank account and reviews spending habits, providing a personalized report about your shopping history and where you gained or missed points. Birch recommends specific credit cards to use and where to use them in order to reap the most rewards possible. And finally, perhaps the coolest feature, Birch uses geolocation to provide alerts when you when you walk into a store, notifying you of the best card to use.

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RIZE

What it does: Helps Prioritize Saving
Rize wants to help you save for the things that truly matter to you. Users can set any number of savings goals (accounts) they want on the Rize app. No need to keep track of multiple accounts at a bank. The beauty of the Rize app is that it automatically moves money from your checking account to your Rize accounts on a schedule you choose, putting saving for multiple goals on auto-pilot. Rize also provides 1.16 percent annual interest (not bad considering the average bank interest rate is far less).

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EMPOWER

What it does: Helps Save Money on Utility, Phone, and Cable Bills
Recognized by Time as one of the best apps of the year in 2017, Empower helps users renegotiate utility, cable, phone and internet bills. The app's creators say one user saved $500 on her cellphone bill and also received an unlimited data plan that she didn't have prior to signing up for Empower. In addition to helping to minimize monthly bills, Empower identifies high interest savings accounts for its users, cancels unwanted subscriptions, and alerts users of bill increases.

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MILLIONAIRE CALCULATOR

What it does: Helps Forecast Savings Growth
Think of this tool as something to use just for fun or perhaps long range dreaming. Affinity Federal Credit Union has created a unique savings tool known as the Millionaire Calculator. It allows users to insert basic information such as current age and monthly savings estimates in order to determine how long it will take for your savings to grow to $1 million. The calculations are based on the impact of compound interest.

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STASH

What it does: Helps Make Investing Easier
Stash makes investing easier for novices everywhere. It's designed to help users to invest for both short- and long-term goals and allows for opening an investment account with as little as $5. Perhaps even more interestingly, it provides a selection of curated investments that reflect your goals, interests and personal beliefs. In addition to all of that, Stash also teaches new investors the core principles of investing. The app also has retirement and savings features.

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PLUM

What it does: Helps Prioritize Saving
The Plum app is your digital savings butler. Linked to your bank account, Plum monitors your spending and automatically sets money aside for you. It does this by analyzing your transactions and learning about your income, expenses and spending patterns, using this knowledge to determine how much you can (read: should) be saving. Each week the app transfers a small amount of money into your Plum savings, which you can access and withdraw at any time, but where it remains safe from any impulse purchases.

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TOPCASHBACK

What it does: Lets Consumers Earn Cash Back Online
Consumers who shop online with the TopCashback app save money by receiving cash back (as the name implies). From retail to travel purchases, TopCashBack works with more than 4,000 merchants to give users an added discount while shopping online. The app is free and allows users to cash out via PayPal, direct deposit, or in the form of a gift card. Users can also earn cash for referring friends, participate in giveaways, and take advantage of other freebie deals.

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CLARITY MONEY

What it does: Manages Subscriptions and Track Spending
Many of the financial apps out there these days have overlapping or similar features. Like other apps, Clarity Money will cancel wasteful subscriptions, help negotiate lower bills and create a savings account for you. But in addition to that, this app (which was ranked by Google as one of the best of 2017) will also notify you when you're spending more than you have budgeted for various expenses. Spending too much on groceries, for instance? The app will let you know. Think of it as a good friend or spouse looking over your shoulder, keeping you on track.

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UNSPLURGE

What it does: Helps Prioritize Saving
Yet another app designed to help you save for big-ticket items, Unsplurge is unique in that it maximizes the power of support from a cheering squad. This app offers access to a social network with whom you share savings goals and progress. The idea is that your network of supporters provides encouragement when you're not meeting financial goals and kudos when you nail them. The app describes itself as the support group for savvy savers everywhere.

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GOOD BUDGET

What it does: Helps Track Spending
Need some assistance tracking both your spending and your spouse's in order to keep the household finances under control? Good Budget can help with that. This virtual budget program is based on the time-tested envelope budgeting system. It allows you to create envelopes for each area of household expenses -- such as groceries, gas, and entertainment. Once the envelopes have been established, you deposit money into each of them. After that, both you and your spouse sync accounts with the app. Throughout the month, Good Budget lets you know who's spending money, where it's spent, and how much remains in each envelope.

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SHOPKICK

What it does: A Rewards-Earning App
Earn rewards (or kicks as they are called in the app) for the shopping you already do, both online and offline. This app gives users points for making purchases. Those points can be converted into gift cards at various stores that partner with Shopkick. Gift cards are available for a variety of well-known retailers including Starbucks, Toys R Us, and Sephora. Think of it as getting the most bang for your buck on shopping you were going to do anyway.

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IBOTTA

What it does: A Rewards-Earning App
Similar to Shopkick, the Ibotta app rewards you for shopping. But in this case, you're not earning points, you're earning real money for buying featured products at stores ranging from Walmart to Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, BevMo, and CVS. In other words, you can earn money for merely grocery shopping or going to the drug store. And the cash can be transferred to a PayPal or Venmo account. It's cold, hard cash, to help pay other bills.

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SNIPSNAP

What it does: Organizes and Provides Coupons
Organize coupons in one place with this handy app, helping you save money when shopping. No more leaving your coupons at home or losing them. Just take pictures of printed coupons from various retailers and the SnipSnap app makes them digital and ready to use on your mobile phone. In addition, the app contains a database of coupons that others have uploaded.

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GROCERY IQ

What it does: Helps Manage Grocery Lists
Impulse purchases happen everywhere, even at the grocery store. But Grocery IQ was designed to help prevent such human failures by allowing you to build detailed grocery lists, including organizing products by aisle, by favorites, and by store. It also includes integrated coupons and has a store-locator feature. Grocery IQ has been described as a must-have for those trying to keep the grocery budget under control.

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BILL TRACKER

What it does: Monitors Bills and Due Dates
For those with a mountain of bills from various sources, keeping track of everything can be challenging. And sometimes a bill can be overlooked altogether, causing late fees and impacting your credit score. Bill Tracker has been designed to ensure you never miss another bill payment again. The app allows for keeping all due dates and bills in one place, and it issues notifications for impending payments. In addition, due dates are highlighted on a calendar in the app.

YOU NEED A BUDGET

What it does: Helps Manage Budgets in Real Time
You Need a Budget (YNAB for short) is designed to help get your finances under control. YNAB says it will help users stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and save more money. You can connect bank accounts to the YNAB software and budget across multiple devices in real-time. The software, which can be tested for 34 days for free, costs $7 per month.

MINT

What it does: Tracks Income and Expenses
A discussion about top financial tools would hardly be complete without Mint, one of the most well-known offerings out there these days. This free service tracks income and expenses from connected banks and credit cards. It allows for creating budgets and provides suggestions based on your spending. Also noteworthy about Mint, it allows for finding out what your credit score is for free and offers advice about how to improve your score.

PERSONAL CAPITAL

What it does: Acts as a Portfolio Assessment and Management Tool
Assess your net worth, analyze your portfolio, and plan for your future with this website and app. Personal Capital allows users to linking all of their accounts to its dashboard in order to provide a complete picture of their finances. It will also assess the health of a user's current portfolio with its free tools, such as the Fee Analyzer and the Investment Checkup. The retirement planning feature, meanwhile, allows for building a customized retirement plan.

LASTPASS

What it does: Manages Password Information
While technically not a personal finance app, LastPass is invaluable when it comes to protecting financial information, which, if exposed, could lead to countless headaches. LastPass generates strong passwords and autofills them so you don't have to remember them. And when you're making a purchase online, it fills in all of your payment and shipping details. LastPass allows for safely storing digital records, such things as insurance cards, Wi-Fi passwords and more.

QUIZZLE

What it does: Monitors and Reports Credit Ratings
Want to know whether you would qualify for a big purchase, such as a home? Quizzle provides a free VantageScore credit score and a TransUnion credit report every three months. You no longer need to pay for access your credit score with an app like Quizzle. It also provides home-value estimates for free and allows for disputing errors on your credit report.

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GROUPON

What it does: Provides Consumer Discounts
Groupon existed as a website first and then added its app. No matter which platform you use, Groupon remains one of the breakout leaders in providing discounts on pretty much everything that involves spending money. From facials to restaurants, hotels and amusement park entrance fees, it's worth browsing Groupon before you make any purchases these days.

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GASBUDDY

What it does: Locates Cheap Gas Prices
A helpful financial app for travelers, GasBuddy identifies the cheapest gas prices near you. It also lets users to report prices, read and submit station reviews, and complete challenges to win gas cards. There's also a trip cost calculator, which allows users to input information such as vehicle make and model, as well as the start and end location for a particular trip, in order to help determine how much they will need to budget for gas.

UNBURY.US

What it does: Loan-Payoff Calculation Tool
Unbury.us allows users to input their loans, current balances, minimum payments, and interest rates, and then choose a repayment method: avalanche (pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first) or snowball (pay off the one with the lowest principal first). The results show the change in remaining principal, principal paid, total interest paid, and monthly payments over time. The goal? To help you figure out how best to get unburied from debt.

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HOTEL TONIGHT

What it does: Finds Bargains on Hotel Rooms
An app to help keep your travel budget to a minimum, Hotel Tonight is famous for finding bargain prices on last-minute hotel bookings. No more shelling out hundreds of dollars when you unexpectedly need a hotel room. With Hotel Tonight, it is incredibly easy to identify affordable hotel rooms. And the money you save can be spent elsewhere, perhaps paying down debt or gas for your next road trip.