After the economic meltdown, several startups started looking for ways to put finances in the hands of the consumers, instead of big financial corporations. Tech made it unbelievably easy. Now, from automatic savings apps, to fee-free banking, to fee-free investing, there are very fun ways to make your money work for you.
Digit is as easy as it gets. Free on all fronts, you just sign up and link a checking account to Digit. Digit will deduct small amounts daily from your account. They’ll also send you a daily text updating you on your account balance, complete with fun gifs when you hit certain savings milestones. Every 3 months, Digit will also automatically pay you a savings bonus (current rate of .20% annually).
At any point, you can withdraw back to your checking account to invest, transfer to savings, or spend. Withdrawals to Digit show up on the checking account as “Hello Digit Inc.”
Digit has a no overdraft guarantee, so you can really sign up and forget about it. Digit has an app and is accessible via text and browser windows.
Acorns offers more options than Digit, at a nominal fee. Acorns does automatic investing and can work with unlimited credit and debit accounts, rounding up your purchase totals to an even amount and investing the difference.
You can invest or withdraw whenever you want, and you’ll also receive their personal finance publication, Grow magazine. Costs are $1 a month, or .25% per year for accounts of $5000 or more (that’s $12.50). Acorns is free for college students with a valid .edu address for 4 years from date of registration.
Stash teaches you how to invest and has portfolios to match your interests, from “The Activist”, a fund investing in clean and renewable energy, to “The Globetrotter”, a fund investing in travel and entertainment holdings.
The first free months are free, then it’s $1 a month, or .25% per year for investment accounts of $5000 or more (again, $12.50).
The Stash app includes educational content and the option to set up recurring investments. There’s also a Stash for Business option so employers can help their employees gain financial literacy through investing.
Qapital makes saving fun. You set a Goal, then set up rules. It can all be controlled through the Qapital app.
Examples of rules: Have a vice (oh hi, Starbucks)? Set up a trigger so that each time you stop at Starbucks (or re-load your card, Gold member), you automatically send a set amount of your cash to the Qapital account.
Set a spending cap for yourself. When you spend under the cap, the remainder is sent to your Goal.
The Round Up rule, like Acorns, rounds up all of your purchases and sends the remainder to your account. According to the Qapital site, the average user saves $44 a month with this rule. Lastly, Qapital connects with IFTTT, which makes for hundreds of ways to effectively save. You set the rules, Qapital saves.
Qapital money is held at Wells Fargo, but can be withdrawn for free at any time.
Simple is an online bank. No fees, for anything, and no branches. All banking is done through the app. Add hashtags to any purchase to make tracking easier at tax time. Spending reports make it easier to save by showing the best places to save.
The banking card is a Visa and Simple integrates with Paypal, Square Cash, and Venmo. If you need a check, Simple will print and mail it for you. Need cash? Simple is partnered with STARsf ATMs, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a free ATM in any CVS, Costco, Target, Quiktrip, McDonalds, Walgreens, 7-eleven, and so on.
Robinhood’s mission is to democratize access to financial markets across the world, and they offer free stock trading. By eliminating storefronts and manual account management, Robinhood keeps their expenses low so they can make stock trading free for users. They make their money by collecting interest on the cash and securities in the Robinhood accounts, just like banks do.
There’s also an upgraded version, called Robinhood Gold, that does charge flat rates for advanced traders.