Popular wisdom once said that a new habit takes 21 days to become a permanent fixture in life. But according to one newer study, it’s actually closer to 66 days.
I’m on a quest to find some powerful apps that will allow me to build a positive savings habit. If you have some bad spending habits you want to track down and eliminate, there’s help out there. Since there are apps for everything, you can train yourself for free with savings apps that will encourage you on your road to financial freedom.
Let’s look at these 7 iPhone apps that encourage and track positive money saving habits for your life.
Tip Yourself – iOS
Tip Yourself is a savings app designed to motivate you to set aside money when you reach your life’s goals, big or small. The developers of Tip Yourself have created a community of like-minded savers who want to encourage others to do the same. Tip Yourself users literally “tip” themselves with small dollar amounts each time they feel like it.
Skip Starbucks and drink the coffee you had at home? Put some money in the tip jar. Pack a lunch instead of eating out at work? That’s reason to celebrate. Tip Yourself harnesses the power of positive reinforcement, encouraging you to save money for a higher purpose and help others do the same.
To set-up a profile, you’ll have to enter some online banking information, confirm the account, and then you’re on your way. Savers get an electronic “Tip Jar” to fill with deposits that you can easily track over time via a handy calendar view. Each day that you tip yourself, you’ll see that date turn green in the calendar view.
View your tips in several categories to see how you’re doing – average tips per week, average tip, highest tip, and total amount. Pre-set amounts are $2, $5 and $10, but you can donate any other amount from $1 up. After you select your tip you can shout to the world that you’ve saved money!
The money you save is stored in the online tip jar (encrypted and FDIC insured) and then returned to you when you want to use the money. Canceling your account will withdraw all tips from your tip jar and return them to the account from which they were withdrawn.
Likes: The community. Be encouraged by others and pay that same encouragement forward. Users can give props and leave comments for other savers around the globe. Having partners in saving increases accountability, and you can invite friends from your Contacts and Facebook account.
Dislikes: Flexibility. To change your bank information, you’re required to email the support email address at Tip Yourself.
iMoneyLover – iOS
A simple piggy bank app, iMoneyLover requires no bank account information for setup and offers a customizable savings goal creator. Set your Goal’s Name, Amount to Save, Currency Name (great for those saving other than $), and the time frame for when you want your goal accomplished. You can activate daily notifications to remind you to “feed the pig” and when you complete your goal, reset your data and start a new one.
Likes: Simplicity of use. Feed this pig and he’ll tell you he’s full for the day and to come back tomorrow.
Dislikes: This app is free but an advertisement bar appears at the bottom. There’s no way to track your savings goals over time, as MoneyLover will only keep one goal active and visible.
Money Box – iOS
The Money Box app is a step up from other electronic piggy banks that will help you create that positive savings habit. Users can track goals throughout their lifetime, sort by due date or alphabetically, and even add their own pictures (or stock icons) to help visualize each goal.
I was able to set my master currency to USD, but global savers can choose anywhere from the Hungarian Forint to the Chinese Yen. You can add a Facebook or Twitter handle and activate sharing for Creating, Achieving, Contributing, and reaching a Milestone goal.
To create a goal, you’ll select a photo/icon and enter the title of the goal. Choose your target amount, currency, and target date. While not connected to your real bank account, there’s an option to “name” your savings account. Like other electronic piggy banks, you’re responsible for creating your own separate savings account to fund your goals. Finally, you’re able to set how often you want to save for this goal: Daily, Weekly, Bi-Weekly, and Monthly.
Likes: Customizable options and visualization tools, like adding a photo. Then track the goal status with color-coded bars and percentages. This makes for a subtle-yet-powerful motivator to save.
Dislikes: Inability to link a bank account. Coupled with the power of the visualization, being able to transfer money with one touch of a button on this app would make it more powerful on the road to building positive savings habits.
fineants – iOS
An elegant savings app for positive habit transfer, fineants provides monetary proverbs from the likes of Benjamin Franklin and other financial gurus as it motivates you to develop a habit of saving.
Create a goal, then track the money you’ve saved over time after squirreling it away in your real piggy bank. Under each goal you can track the progress by percentage complete and total dollar amount you’ve saved. A downside to this fast and easy app is that you can only track one goal at a time unless you buy the pro version.
Likes: Visually simple and to the point. Move the money on your own but track progress on your iPhone, inside the app or in the widgets section under the “Today” option.
Dislikes: Cost. Upgrade to the pro version to track more than one goal.
FiftyTwo+ – iOS
The FiftyTwo app is based off a 52-week money saving challenge. The idea is that you start with $1 saved the first week, and end with $52 saved the final week. At the end of the challenge, you’ll have $1,378 stashed away.
FiftyTwo has a clear and easy tutorial page you can review before getting started. Simple features, like swiping right to mark a weekly deposit complete or cancel out a week’s progress, make FiftyTwo easy to use and be on your way.
There are only two pages to navigate: the home page and the settings page. On the home page you’ll see each week and the required savings amount to meet the challenge goals. Settings include a Sync to iCloud option and the ability to set a next reminder, but this is for the paid version only. Here you can also customize the name of your goal for extra motivation.
Likes: You’re taking part in an effective habit building system. At the top of the app you can quickly identify how much of the $1,378 you have piled up.
Dislikes: No option to link a bank account for instant savings. There’s also an advertisement bar just below the top of the app, which can be removed for $0.99.
Clink – iOS and Android (available soon on Google Play)
An advanced and slick savings app, Clink has enough options to satisfy any aspiring saver. It’s not only a savings platform but an investment primer as well. You can personalize and tailor this online piggy bank to suit your needs.
At setup, users are asked to identify what kind of portfolio they want, ranging from very conservative (about 70% bond/30% stock) to very aggressive (20% bond/80% stock). The Clink platform will automatically invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that match your desired rate of return for the newly created, automated savings account.
For example, if you want a stable, lower risk savings option that will provide returns similar to a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or money market account, you will probably choose the very conservative option. If you’re chasing the gains, you might pick aggressive or very aggressive. No matter where you fall on the risk spectrum, there is a portfolio option to meet your needs. (Keep in mind there may be tax consequences when you withdraw money from your account.)
Track and manage savings under the Savings Management tab, where you can set your options for automatic savings and view your savings history over time. Choose between saving every day, every other day, weekly, every other week, or monthly. Base amounts are $1, $5, $20, $50, $100, and $500. There is no option to apply a different amount to your automated savings schedule. You can, however, deposit and withdraw any amount at any time, provided the funds have cleared your bank.
If you link a credit card with Clink, you can set a percentage of each restaurant purchase to automatically save. The default is 20%, but you can modify it to a different amount if desired.
Bonus: Earn $5 per referred friend or family member that registers to use the app. Navigate to the Invite Friends tab and choose between Facebook, email, or a text message invitation.
Likes: Groups. Get your family and friends to sign up with you. That way, you can all work toward a shared goal, like saving for college, a car, or a family vacation. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. The bonus mentioned above will be added to your account, so there’s one more reason to start a savings group.
Dislikes: The functionality of the app is not quite complete – a Clink video advertisement claims you can set automatic savings percentages for purchases made on your favorite credit card. However, this feature isn’t fully available. Clink’s support team explained that their current version of the app only allows for automated savings in one category (restaurants), but future versions will allow users to pick more categories to collect automatic savings.
Additionally, there is no way to view which credit card you’ve linked to Clink nor is there a way to change the card unless you have Clink reset your account. Expect upcoming updates to resolve these functionality issues.
Penny – iOS
Penny is more of a financial assistant, rather than a “piggy bank” savings app like most. It was also the most fun I’ve had exploring a personal finance app yet. It helps you develop positive financial habits. Intuitive and fun interaction walks you through setup and account linking as if you’re having a conversation with a human being. Once complete, Penny tracks spending (and income) with all linked accounts, providing easy-to-read charts and progress reports whenever you want them.
Penny is like Personal Capital, but without as much detailed information. This app is focused on spending, saving, and income rather than investments. Penny’s programming will scan your purchase patterns to identify your subscriptions and frequently used products. After my first 5 minutes on the app, I got my first helpful alert. Penny asked me if I’d like to cancel or upgrade my Audible subscription based on usage. I told her I was happy with what I had.
After a few days, I checked back in to see what I could learn from my new personal assistant. Penny pointed out that in each of the four preceding weeks, I was spending less and less money. This is a very powerful motivator and positive way to develop a conscious thought process focused on saving more and spending less. “We” went over my top three purchases so I could identify what was costing me the most money each week.
Ask Penny how the month is going, and you’ll get a side-by-side comparison of the current and previous month. You’ll know right away if you’re spending more or less than you did at that same time last month. If you’ve made a large purchase, Penny will identify the transaction and remind you of the details. If there’s a spike in spending, Penny will point it out.
If you have transactions you don’t want to show up on the app’s register, you can categorize them as “ignored”. This will prevent normal expenses (fees, payments, transfers, etc.) from distracting you from your goals. Other selectable categories include food, transportation, other purchases, income, and bills.
Bonus: Earn swag from Penny by referring friends and family.
Likes: Interaction. I enjoy the conversation style interaction with Penny. It give me the feeling I have my own personal finance assistant to help me along the way.
Dislikes: Category options. I want to include charitable giving and other expenditures, but with only 5 categories to choose from it’s not possible to break it down further than “other purchases.” Adding more categories would help users easily identify positive and negative spending habits.
Whether it’s 21 days, 66 days, or somewhere in between, developing a habit of saving is possible. We use our phones and computers every day anyway. Installing a habit-reinforcing savings app will increase your chances of success.
If you want simple tracking that reminds you to move money into your savings account, an app like fineants, FiftyTwo+, or iMoneyLover is the way to go. If visual motivation works better for you, use Money Box to set up goals with custom photos. If you want a personal touch you’ve got to choose Penny. The socially-motivated saver should use Tip Yourself. For a group setting amongst family or friends, Clink can connect you to your desired goals.
What app do you use to help you remember to save? Leave a comment below and let us know.Topics: Smart Spending