At a Glance: Make healthy money habits a priority by setting up budgets and identifying savings goals.
Remember the olden days, when balancing your checkbook required a pen and a calculator? And an actual checkbook?! Thankfully, tracking money is easier than it’s ever been in the digital age. Here are three of the most respected—and frequently used—apps on the market:
How it works: You provide login data for each account you wish to track. Mint then automatically updates and categorizes transactions from each source as it clears, so you get an accurate snapshot of your money and spending habits in real time.
The app lets you set up budgets and create savings goals, and it fires off alerts if you get close to your spending limit in any category. Mint also displays your credit score and watches for your spending trends.
You can use an app like this to schedule and set aside payments for your next class or monthly bills. And, don’t forget the importance of a rainy day fund so an unexpected expenses doesn’t derail you.
How it works: It getsright to the bottom line: how much money do you have to spend? It helps you make sure you don’t underestimate or overestimate your funds in the here and now. Like Mint, Level imports data from the accounts you add manually to offer an ongoing report of your finances. But it also spells out the dollar amount that’s safe to spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, according to your spendingfinancial goals.
Level automatically categorizes transactions so you can review your spending patterns for a particular type of good or service. It lets you set trackers for any of your spending habits, showing you how much you’re spending over time. And it displays monthly summaries with projections for how much you’ll be spending based on history.
How it works: Now free for college students (full- or part-time) with proof of enrollment, YNAB is the undisputed budgeting heavyweight champa strong competitor in the mobile app ring. YNAB organizes its interface and functionality around four financial principles summarized by “Give every dollar a job.”
With YNAB, you don’t just track your spending; you assign every last incoming dollar to a predefined category. Some of these categories are YNAB defaults, but you can customize all of the buckets and add any you wish.
YNAB is all about financial education, with access to financial literacy classes, tutorials, budgeting tools and tricks, and online support. It’s an incredible resource students who are serious about planning ahead to set aside money for their education.