If you're like most people, you check your smartphone at least 50 times a day – looking at everything from text messages and work emails to weather alerts and sports scores. But as many have discovered, your smartphone can help you keep tabs on your finances. Managing money, sticking to a budget and even handling investment decisions are easier than even before with today's crop of personal finance apps.
But not every tool out there is actually worth downloading and learning to use. You can take some of the guesswork out of moving your finances to mobile with this list of the best personal finance apps for 2017. (See also: A Beginner's Guide to Managing Your Money.)
1. Mint: Best app for managing your money
Hands down, the free Mint app from Intuit Inc. (INTU) – the name behind QuickBooks and TurboTax – is an effective all-in-one resource for creating a budget, tracking your spending and getting smart about your money. You can connect all your bank and credit card accounts, as well as all your monthly bills, so all your finances are in one convenient place – no more logging in to multiple sites.
Mint lets you know when bills are due, what you owe and what you can pay. The app can also send you payment reminders so you can avoid late fees. Based on your spending habits, Mint even gives you specific advice to gain more control over your budget. The free credit score is a nice bonus, too. (See also: What Is a Good Credit Score?)
2. You Need a Budget: Best app for getting out of debt
You Need a Budget (YNAB to enthusiasts) is unlike any other budgeting app you've used before. YNAB helps you stop living paycheck to paycheck, pay down debt and "roll with the punches" if something unexpected comes up. It's built around a fairly simple principle – every dollar has a job.
You Need a Budget doesn't let you create budgets around money you don't have – it forces you to live within your actual income. If you get off track (and who doesn't occasionally?), YNAB helps you see what you need to do differently to balance your budget. The built-in "accountability partner" keeps you on your toes. Although users pay a small monthly or annual fee for YNAB, the service and support are worth it. Online classes with a live instructor for Q&A to help you learn budgeting basics are included. In fact, YNAB is so effective that the average user pays off $500 in debt the first month. (See also: The 7 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt.)
3. Wally: Best app for tracking expenses
If you're the sort of person who'd love to be as organized with personal expense tracking as you are with your expense reports at work, you'll love the totally free Wally app. Instead of manually logging your expenses at the end of the day (or week or month), Wally lets you simply take a photo of your receipts. And if you use geo-location on your device, it even fills in that info, saving you several steps.
Wally is a clean, streamlined app that's extremely convenient and easy to use. It's a great choice if you'd like more insight into where your money is going. (See also: 4 Ways to Cut Your Living Expenses.)
4. Acorns: Best app for painless saving
Want to harness the benefits of automating good financial behavior? If that sounds complicated, the Acorns app decidedly isn't. Basically, every time you make a purchase with a card connected to the app, Acorns rounds it up to the next highest dollar and automatically invests the difference in a portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that you select based on your risk preference.
Acorns puts your pocket change to work in an utterly painless way – users say that they never even notice the difference. Wouldn't you love to find an extra $300 or $500 or even $1,500 in your investment account each year? The service is free to college students and charges just $1 per month for pretty much everyone else. (See also: How to Put Your Pay Raise to Work.)
[ With all of that money saved using personal finance apps, investing for your future is the next big step. Site Edit Academy's course examines different types of savings accounts from high-yield bank accounts, bonds, money market deposits funds and more to make the most out of your savings. ]