Knowing what’s going on with your money is the best way to grow your personal wealth. And today, with dozens of financial apps available to download, it’s never been easier to keep track of your dollars. But which services are the best?
We’ve broken down a list of the best financial apps especially for newbie investors. Here you’ll find apps to help you with everything from budgeting to investing to saving money. You may find your best money management style comes from using several of these services.
Read on to find out which financial apps work best for you.
Personal Finance Software
These apps will help you get started organizing and understanding your money. They lay out all your accounts in one place, track your spending, and offer money advice so you can better handle your finances.
A free and easy-to-use financial software service that syncs up all your accounts in one location. Personal Capital creates summaries of your spending, net worth, and most importantly your investment portfolio. The upsell is their wealth management service.
- Complete View of Your Finances
- Powerful Investment Checkup
- Support via Many Apps
- The You Index
- Easy to Use
- Custom Allocation of Unknown Assets
- Great Reporting
- All-Inclusive Wealth Management Fee
- Asset Allocation Is Not Customizable
- Budgeting Tool Needs Improvement
- Cannot Reconcile
- Expensive Wealth Management Service
- High Minimum for Wealth Management
- No Import Option From Quicken
Personal Capital is an app that offers budgeting, investing and retirement help. It lets you sync your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and even your mortgage. You can see all your debts, income and investments in one place.
Personal Capital will help determine what your investment risk level is and will recommend an asset allocation for you. It also provides daily or weekly summaries of your investments for you.
YNAB (You Need A Budget)
YNAB (otherwise known as You Need A Budget) is a popular budgeting app. The latest version is now an online service and can sync with your bank accounts. On the downside, YNAB doesn't offer any help with tracking your investments.
- YNAB Is All About Budgeting
- Goes Beyond the Mechanics of Budgeting
- Low Cost
- YNAB Continues to Evolve
- No Phone or Email Contact
- Not a One-Stop Shop for All Things Financial
- Lacks Two-Factor Authentication
YNAB is a no-nonsense budgeting app ideal for anyone looking to get out of debt or just starting out taking care of their finances. By requiring you to be actively involved with your finances, YNAB offers a more proactive approach than Mint.com.
YNAB is ideal for beginning budgeters who need to stick to their plan.
With the Mint app you can manage your finances all from one place. The personal finance software has budgeting, tracking and online bill pay that's easy to use. Unfortunately, Mint's investing tools are simplistic, and many users report issues with bank synchronization.
- Weekly Summaries via Email
- Alerts via Email or SMS
- Budgeting and Goal Setting
- Automatic Downloaded Transactions
- Credit Score Tracking
- Two-Factor Authentication
- Bill Notification and Payment
- Lack of Investing Features
- Synchronization Issues
- Lack of Report Generation
- No Reconciliation
- No Import Option From Quicken
Mint.com is a great app if you are looking for free help with your budget. Not only does it let you track and review your spending trends from month to month, but Mint also helps you set budgets for different spending categories. In fact, Mint auto-categorizes your transactions, making budgeting even easier.
You can sync your investment accounts to Mint, and it will offer investment advice. However, Mint doesn’t invest for you. This is best for those who are totally new to money management. It will help you organize your budget, so that you have more money to invest. When you’re ready to get serious about investing, you’ll want to move away from Mint.
Best Microsavings App
Microsaving apps take the work out of saving. By rounding up your spare change and tucking it away, you’ll save automatically. You won’t even notice the money is gone.
The Acorns app invests your spare change. It rounds up to the nearest dollar (or more) for every credit card purchase and micro-invests the difference. It makes saving fun and easy. The negatives: Acorns does not offer IRA accounts and isn't made for long-term goals like retirement planning.
- Painless Way to Save
- Hides the Complexities of Investing
- Start Investing With No Money
- Free for College Students
- No Retirement Accounts
- Only for "Boosting" Your Savings
- Can Lose Principal
- High Annual Fees
Acorns is a web and app-based service that offers a simple way to save and invest in the stock market. It rounds up your spending to the nearest dollar and then invests that difference. The app designs an investment portfolio for you based on the information you input at signup. However, you can choose from their other portfolios if you want to.
You can get started with as low as $5, meaning your initial investment doesn’t have to break your bank account.
Retirement accounts aren’t available, so you’ll be investing in individual stocks only. You can invest your spare change daily, weekly or monthly. The app includes educational sections to help you understand investing practices and terms.
Acorns is extremely easy to use on your phone. You don’t need to understand complicated investment theories to be successful, and since the amounts of money taken out and invested are tiny, you won’t even know they’re missing from your bank account.
Stash Invest is a microsavings service geared toward beginning investors. Compared to its rivals, the service has more flexibility in choosing your investment options. However, it's too costly for smaller accounts, and all trades must be done via the smartphone app.
- More Investment Options
- Low Fees on Larger Accounts
- Low Minimum Deposit
- Delayed Trading Execution
- No Website Access
- Costly for Small Accounts
Stash Invest is a microsavings app that lets you invest in a diverse selection of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual stocks from your smartphone. And like Acorns, it lets you get started with as little as $5.
We like to think of Stash as both a micro-investing platform and an educational resource in one package, since it also gives you lots of actionable information and advice both via email and in the app.
Stash creates recommended portfolios based on your risk level. And you can set up the system so that it makes automated investments from your account.
If you have an account of $5,000 or more, Stash is very low cost — with annual fees of just 0.25%.
Investing is even easier now than it’s traditionally been, thanks to the rise of robo-advisors. “Robo-advisor” is the term used to describe the new type of service that handles investing for their clients. Users sign up for an app and enter information about their current finances and their goals, and the app uses data-driven algorithms to invest for them.
Robo-advisors are ideal for those who feel intimidated by the stock market and don’t know where to start. They’re a great way to get your feet wet with investing.
Betterment is a good starting point for beginner investors. The robo-advisor has no minimum deposit and costs 0.25% annually. If you need the assistance, they recently added human advisors, which can assist with your retirement account. Unfortunately, their asset allocation excludes REITs or Commodities.
- Simple Asset Allocation
- Low Management Fees
- Perfect for Young Investors
- Tax-Coordinated Portfolio
- RetireGuide Calculator
- Not the Best for Higher-Net-Worth Individuals
- Cannot Asset-Allocate With External Accounts
- No REITs or Commodities
Betterment provides portfolio management services priced for those on a budget and helps newbie investors focus on simple asset allocation. It’s a simple-to-use platform that’s perfect for those who are just starting out with investing.
Betterment chooses investments for you, based on your income and goals. The aim is to maximize return and minimize the risk. Betterment uses the Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) to help you with your investment returns. By investing in a diverse pool of assets, it should collectively lower the risk and yet stabilize returns over the long term.
Betterment invests in Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) index funds. They diversify your investment by allocating into many ETFs.
Betterment has become very popular, but be aware: Betterment is not FDIC insured. That means your returns are not guaranteed.
Wealthfront is a robo-advisor that emphasizes low fees and automated investing. The service shines when you have a taxable account, and the service is free for accounts under $10k. The negative is it doesn't support fractional shares.
- Free for Accounts Under $15,000
- Tax-Loss Harvesting for All Accounts
- Direct Indexing
- 529 Plan Option
- Free Portfolio Review
- Two-Factor Authentication
- No Fractional Shares
- Portfolio Review Not Comprehensive
Wealthfront is a diversified robo-advisor that specializes in helping you invest in the most tax-efficient way. It provides portfolio management services priced for those on a budget and helps newbie investors focus on simple asset allocation.
It’s another robo-advisor that specifically targets those who are just starting out with investing. Wealthfront handles both individual taxable stocks and retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. So for those who have a company-sponsored 401(k) plan, you can input that information to Wealthfront and have it robo-managed.
Just like Betterment, Wealthfront uses Modern Portfolio Theory to create an automated asset allocation. An important note is that Wealthfront doesn’t hold your portfolio; they use the Apex Clearing Corporation.
Also like Betterment, Wealthfront invests in ETF index funds and diversify your investment by allocating into many ETFs. They continually make sure the asset allocation is correct by automatic rebalancing.
WiseBanyan is a free robo-advisor service with no hidden charges. The base service includes automatic portfolio rebalancing and low minimum deposit. From our testing, they are the cheapest service in their category. On the downside, we question if their business model is sustainable.
- No Annual Fee
- Fractional Shares
- Low Initial Deposit
- Automatic Rebalancing
- Cash Position
- Same Portfolio for Every Goal
- No Muni Bonds
- Not a Proven Business Model
WiseBanyan is a totally free robo-advisor service, making it especially attractive to young and beginning investors. Like Wealthfront and Betterment, it invests in ETFs.
Each user gets paired with a personal financial expert. There’s no minimum required portfolio balance, which means any level of new investor can get started. They’ve taken a hard line on fees as well — meaning that there are none.
Essentially, WiseBanyan takes take your money and invests it to buy a portfolio of ETFs. They manage the dividends and rebalance according to your personal info.
Blooom helps manage the complicated task of picking the right mutual funds for your 401(k) plan. It's easy to use and can work with any account that has online access. Plus, it's very low cost — just $10 per month. Unfortunately, Blooom does not consider your tolerance for risk.
- Professional Account Management
- Cheap to Use
- Works With Many Different Plan Providers
- Multiple Account Support
- Available for 401(k) and 403(b) Plans Only
- Simple Risk Profile
Blooom is a robo-advisor that focuses only on retirement funds. They manage 401(k) and 403(b) plans only — no taxable investment accounts here. They don’t even manage IRAs.
Their goal is to help the younger generations start planning for their long-term future. The firm has analyzed over 26,000 401(k)s, which includes more than $1.6 billion in total assets. Blooom gives 401(k) recommendations, so you will have more money for retirement — you don’t even need to move your account from your provider.
With the Robinhood app, yes, you can truly make free stock trades. The no-frills service targets primarily Millennial investors. The service is easy to use and is limited in functionality. Unfortunately, it is only available on mobile devices. But did we mention it's free?
- Free Trades
- Easy to Use
- Stock and ETF Trading Only
- No Retirement Accounts
Robinhood is a no-frills, app-based stock broker that requires no minimum deposit. It is very flexible, allowing users to trade any stock or ETF listed on the U.S. stock exchanges. It’s fairly basic, so if you’re looking for a full-service trading platform, this isn’t for you. However, in making that sacrifice, investors get access to a wide selection of stocks and ETFs without paying commissions or fees.
There’s not much in the way of educational resources on the app, but it’s free!
Learning the personal finance ropes should be on everyone’s to-do list. Managing your money is absolutely something you can learn to do. With these apps you can save more, learn to invest and grow your wealth.