I’ve been meaning to get strategic about my money management since graduating, buying a house, getting married, starting a business, moving, moving again, moving again…and the list goes on and on.
Do you feel me?
While do-it-yourself money management has been a long-term intent of mine, it’s emerged as the ultimate back-burner project. “It’ll take too much time,” I’d convince myself. “I’ve already put it off this long – what’s another year?”
This year, I (finally) called my procrastinator self’s bluff – it’s time to get serious about some serious investments. Dancing the prelude to my Dirty Thirty, I’ve decided to put some action behind my financial well-meaning, yet previously ineffective intent, and manage my own money. Like many other millennials, I’ve got asset goals, student debt, and healthcare costs that routinely meet the catastrophic cap and have concluded there’s no time like the present to execute financial savviness.
Armed with my well-highlighted MBA textbooks and the latest market analytics, I dove headfirst into the world of personal investing. So much has changed since I received my last monthly Value Line binder via snail mail! Today, there are TONS of amazing time-saving apps for today’s tech-savvy, DIY money manager.
Here are seven of my favorite financial apps for the money-conscious millennial:
WARNING: Acorns is addictive (but it makes you money, so win-win).
Syncing with your credit and debit card accounts, the Acorns app virtually gathers up all your loose change (rounds charges up to the nearest dollar) and invests it in your customized stock portfolio. Every time you buy a cup of coffee, pump gas, or download the latest Taylor Swift song, Acorns’ robo-advising software helps you make money when you spend money (I told you it was addictive).
The only charges involved are $1 month for investments under $5,000, or 0.25 percent annual fees for larger accounts. If you sign up with a .edu email address, all fees are waived for four years. Sign-up at www.acorns.com .
When polling my Facebook friends, like all good millennials do, Betterment emerged as the most recommended financial app from my circle of do-it-yourselfers.
Using Nobel Prize-winning research to create diversified portfolios (up to six stock ETFs and six bond ETFs), Betterment widely hailed as one of the best robo-advisors available. Betterment currently offers three types of plans:
- Digital (0.25 percent per year with no minimum investment)
- Plus (Annual phone consultation and ongoing monitoring from a team of financial professionals for 0.40 percent per year with an account minimum of $100,000)
- Premium (Unlimited access to financial advisors for 0.50 percent per year with a $250,000 account minimum)
Most new users will jump on the Digital Plan with the option to upgrade as your investment accounts grow. Sign-up at: www.betterment.com .
What’s an investment strategy without a personal budgeting plan?
The Mint app lets you budget, pay your bills, and even check your credit score – all for free! As a visual learner, I just love Mint’s graphical representation of all my accounts (totally beats my bank’s 1990’s era computer-generated statements). This type of interactive account data helps me to make more informed investment and spending decisions while living a life on the go.
As an entrepreneur, cash flow is always the big clincher, as it, unfortunately, remains rather unpredictable (billing does not always equal timely collection), so having an intuitive platform that allows me to responsively adjust my budgets, like the one from Mint, is a big financial win. Sign-up at: www.mint.com .
Motif is an interesting robo-advisor that invests thematically using customized “motifs”, such as automobiles, biotech, or health. Each investor’s motif includes up to 30 exchange-traded funds or stocks and lets users buy everything within single motif for just $9.95. Individual trading costs $4.95 per transaction.
App users can choose from the 180,000+ user-generated motif, 150 professional develop motifs, or can create their own motif from scratch. If you’re looking for a guided investment platform that allows you to invest in your favorite industries, or align your portfolio with your social values (fair trade, anyone?) Motif may be just the app for you.
It’s super easy to use, low fee structure, and 100% customizable features make it a favorite among first-time investors. Sign up at: www.motifinvesting.com .
I’ve been dying to try the Robinhood app ever since it made its Apple store debut. I was so eager to give Robinhood a whirl that I even considered trading my Android phone in; thankfully, they rolled out an Android option and I was one of the first to sign up as a beta user.
Maybe it’s the very-millennial, we-just-survived-the-market-meltdown, screw Wall Street name; or maybe the features are just super awesome. Either way, the Robinhood app has evolved as an all-time favorite among money-conscious 20 and 30somethings.
So what’s all the hoopla about? Robinhood allows individual investors to trade stocks and ETFs in real time (still waiting on bonds, mutual funds, etc.) with no trade commissions (yay!), nor account minimum balance or advisor fees (another yay!). Note: Federally mandated trading fees still apply.
A major downside to Robinhood is the lack of in-app analyses, a downside most users circumvent by pairing Robinhood use with another market app, like Bloomberg, CNBC, or Yahoo Finance. Sign up at: www.robinhood.com.
Want to get into investing, but afraid to experiment (or learn) on your hard-earned money? Consider signing up for Stock Trainer – an educational app that lets you trade stocks with virtual money. Think of it as the training wheels to your investment strategy.
Invest virtual funds into popular stocks, sell when you’re ready to cash out, and measure your profits (or losses) with the help of Stock Trainer’s software program. The real-time portfolio analysis lets you track your curated portfolio performance, all for free! Practice researching investments, following the markets and setting up your investment strategy without betting the farm on your first few stock picks.
Stock Trainer is a great way to get your investment feet wet without risking your life savings. Sign-up at: www.alifesoftware.com/stocktrainer/ .
The Yahoo Finance app isn’t an investment platform – it’s a financial database providing investors with real-time information and analyses.
Yahoo Finance allows you to link your brokerage accounts, monitor your portfolio, and curate a watch list. Tracking all news related to your picked brands isn’t just a wish – Yahoo Finance lets you follow relevant market trends and PR crises right at your fingertips! It’s an online hub for everything finance and investing, and best of all, it’s absolutely free to use.
If you’re already a Yahoo News fan, downloading the Yahoo Finance app can provide trusted information in a familiar format to help you make better-informed investment decisions. Sign up at: https://mobile.yahoo.com/finance .
If Yahoo isn’t your media fav, consider downloading the CNBC app; it also offers more coverage of international markets, so a global investment strategy is your thing, CNBC may be your best resource.
What’s your favorite financial app?
Share your favorite money management apps and tips in the comments below!