The 16 Best Apps for Saving Money in College
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- Saving money in college allows you to pay for big expenses and minimize debt.
- Money management apps teach you how to create and stick to a budget.
- With money-saving apps, you'll find the best prices on groceries, gas, and airfare.
- You'll also develop healthy financial habits, like setting goals and investing money.
College tuition in the U.S. continues to climb. According to the College Board, in 2021-22, tuition and fees rose by 1.6% for in-state students at public four-year universities.
To effectively handle the mounting costs of higher education, all students should develop a high level of financial literacy. Smart money management lets you minimize post-graduation debt, while simultaneously helping you save funds for outings with friends and that study abroad trip.
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This guide provides a list of 16 mobile applications to help you create a budget and save money in college. We also provide some useful money management resources.
Top Money Management and Budget Apps
Budgeting can prove challenging for college students. Young adults have often never needed to analyze and set limits on their spending before. Fortunately, many free and low-cost apps let users track their expenditures across multiple credit cards, bank accounts, and investments.
This section introduces nine of the best money management apps, providing details on function and interface to help you pick the tool that best suits your needs and habits.
Created by Intuit, Mint offers tools and advice to help you make smart, data-supported financial decisions. This app aggregates your credit card, checking, savings, and investment accounts, presenting all of this information on one page so you can get the full picture of your financial life.
Mint also provides free credit reports and tips on how to build a good score or recover from a bad one. Additionally, the app lets you compare credit cards, investment portfolios, and bank loans.
2. Personal Capital
The Personal Capital app enables you to monitor your banking accounts, credit card transactions, and investment returns in real time. You can also set reminders for upcoming bills and request reports of spending habits on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.
One of Personal Capital's unique features is its retirement planner. This comprehensive calculator lets you run different life scenarios so you can create a personalized spending plan showing how much you can afford each month.
Similar to the two apps above, PocketGuard allows you to connect your checking, savings, and credit card accounts. The more accounts you link, the more effective the app's tools are. With this app, you can analyze your spending habits, identify areas where you can save money, and set reminders for upcoming bills.
The "In My Pocket" feature is what sets PocketGuard apart from its competitors. By using an innovative algorithm that considers factors like annual income, ongoing expenses, and savings contributions, the app can accurately calculate how much money you've got left for daily spending.
A premier money budget app, Acorns makes the investing process so intuitive and convenient that it now boasts more than 7 million users. This app works by automatically rounding up the purchases you make through linked accounts. It then uses this spare change to grow optimized portfolios, which it monitors using modern investment theory.
Additional features include recurring deposits, special savings accounts, and a variety of articles on topics like high-demand jobs and the current state of mortgage rates. To use Acorns, you must sign up for a $1, $3, or $5 monthly product bundle.
5. You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget (YNAB) uses a proactive system that focuses on changing future spending through planning and prioritization. You'll assign every dollar a job and identify all your expenses so you can figure out where you need to spend less, where to spend more, and how to accrue savings.
After trying YNAB for free for 34 days, you can sign up for either a $15/month or $99/year subscription.
Spendee possesses all the conventional features of a money management app, letting you sync accounts to track your spending and set up bill reminders. The app also boasts some unique tools, including a real-time currency converter and an e-wallet that allows you to link digital payment methods and cryptocurrency investments.
You can stick with the free version or pay for either the Spendee Plus ($15/year) or Spendee Premium ($23/year) upgrades.
Dollarbird eschews the automatic tracking feature of other money budget apps and instead requires you to manually add your transactions to a calendar so you can evaluate your spending on a daily, monthly, and even yearly basis.
As a cloud-based software, Dollarbird lets you share your financial calendar with colleagues and loved ones; however, the sharing feature is only available if you pay for a pro ($40/year), pro unlimited ($55/year), or business subscription (price varies).
Created by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey, EveryDollar takes a baby-steps approach to tracking and saving money. Users assign each dollar to one of eight categories or a savings account to analyze their spending over time, and can make adjustments to keep themselves on track toward achieving their goals.
If you want EveryDollar to automatically input transactions or connect to your credit card and/or bank accounts, you'll have to pay $60 for three months, $100 for six months, or $130 for 12 months.
In addition to helping you create a budget and track your spending habits, Qapital rounds up every transaction you make to the nearest $2 and funnels those funds into an FDIC-insured account. Alternatively, you can use that money to grow a goal-based ETF investment portfolio, allowing you to save money for a big purchase or expense.
You can pay $3/month for the basic version of the app or opt for a premium subscription at $6/month or $12/month.
Best Money-Saving Apps
Below, we explore seven of the best money-saving apps for college students with regard to functionality and popularity. Each app serves a different purpose, such as helping you find the lowest prices on goods and services, earn cash back for buying essentials, or safely sell and trade with people in your community.
Honey is a free browser extension that automatically searches for the best prices of goods and services on more than 300,000 websites, including Sephora, J.Crew, and Amazon. By clicking on the Honey button at the top right corner of the browser, you can take advantage of available coupons and promo codes.
The extension can monitor price reductions on various items through its droplist function. If you frequently shop on Amazon, you can also use Honey to compare prices from different merchants.
Launched as a website in 2008, Groupon also operates as a money-saving app that helps you pay up to 70% less on goods and services. With this app, you can search for coupons and promo codes by keyword and/or category.
Groupon also maintains a deal-of-the-day section, where you can find exceptional deals on electronics, airfare, and vacation packages. By being strategic with your purchases, you can earn cash back or Groupon Bucks — a points-based reward system — by spending money at specific retailers and local restaurants.
The OfferUp app enables you to buy from and sell to people in your community. You can browse by category or search for specific items using keywords before messaging the seller with an offer or any questions you may have.
OfferUp prioritzes trust and safety, requiring users to confirm their identity with an email, phone number, or Facebook account, as well as displaying transaction history, ratings, and reward badges on all users' profiles. Designated meet-up spots allow you to meet other users in well-lit and surveilled locations.
With this money-saving app, you can search for the best gas prices by location and by using additional criteria like fuel type, payment method, and station brand. GasBuddy also helps you plan road trips by calculating the total cost of fuel for your journey and tracking nearby stations for outages.
You can save even more money — up to 25 cents per gallon on gas — by signing up for the free debit-style card. The app also offers a GasBack rewards program that lets you earn points toward your next fill-up for everyday purchases.
Ibotta is a digital alternative to the paper coupon that lets you earn cash back and other rewards for purchases you make in stores and online at over 300 retailers, including Costco, Family Dollar, Amazon, Whole Foods, Gelson's, and Walmart. After saving the offers to your phone and making the purchases, all you need to do is scan the receipt to earn your cash.
You can also link royalty programs from partnering retailers to the Ibotta app to automatically earn rewards without having to manually upload receipts.
Formerly known as Paribus, Capital One Shopping is a money-saving browser extension that monitors the prices of merchandise from over 25 retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot. All you need to do is shop online as usual, and the app will notify you when the price of an item you bought drops. You'll then get a refund of the difference.
In addition to prices, Capital One Shopping tracks your shipments to help you get compensation for late deliveries. You can also use the extension to learn about a retailer's specific return policy.
Initially launched as a website in 1998, Coupons.com is now a popular money-saving app that's compatible with both Android and Apple devices. Staying true to its roots, Coupons.com offers printable discounts, which are searchable by item type (like pet care, household, and office and electronics) and brand. You can also access digital coupons for specific stores and cashback rewards.
Finally, this handy app lets you save money with coupon codes categorized by seasonal events that include Halloween, Black Friday, and winter holidays.
The learning doesn't need to stop here
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Additional Resources to Help You Save Money in College
Your financial plan is only useful if the knowledge and methods you wield evolve alongside your changing mindset, habits, and goals.
The resources below will help you understand the complex processes involved in taking out loans, using credit cards, and making investments. They'll also provide guides on topics like finding cheap flights and accommodations and how to prepare tasty, budget-friendly meals.
As the name suggests, Money Under 30 is a financial advice website that caters to young adults, particularly college students and recent graduates.
Content is divided into six categories, which include credit cards, banking, loans, investing, and insurance. The final section — personal finance — teaches you how to set up an emergency fund, consolidate debt, and get a free credit report.
Founded in 2010 as a personal blog, The Points Guy now works with over 100 writers, editors, and reporters dedicated to offering practical advice and making travel more affordable.
In addition to travel tips and hotel reviews, the site offers comprehensive info on various kinds of credit cards. You'll also find a beginner's guide to points and miles and details about mileage programs like Chase and Amex Rewards.
This website focuses on helping visitors create delicious meals that fit their personal taste and — more importantly — their budget. You'll find a gigantic library of recipes and guides on how to meal prep, whether you are a vegetarian or simply want convenient foods that don't require reheating.
Budget Bytes also comes in the form of a mobile app for Android and Apple devices.
StudentUniverse is one of the most widely used travel websites among young adults in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. By signing up for a free membership, you can search for exclusive flight discounts across more than 200 airlines.
Members also gain access to promo codes that make travel even more affordable.
Campus Book Rentals (CBR) helps college students save money by offering affordable rental options on the same U.S. edition textbooks found at campus bookstores. You can search using an ISBN or keyword, paying a flat amount that increases the longer you want to keep the book before returning the item using a prepaid shipping label. You can also sell used textbooks through CBR.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute professional financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this website should contact a professional advisor before making decisions about financial issues.
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