The toys predicted to be the hottest of the 2014 holiday season are not particularly cheap — but they’ll be bargains compared to the hottest toys of 2024. In other words, it’s time to start saving some cash. Luckily, today’s apps are good for more than just hyperlapsing every single car or cab ride ever. Here are some economically sound places to get started:
Invest Without Thinking About It
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow is the kind of annoying but still valid saying that informs this high tech version of “the change in your pocket” approach. Every time you make a purchase, Acorns rounds the amount up to the next dollar and then puts that difference in your choice of one of five investment portfolios. The app is very customizable and provides the added bonus of functioning as a visual spending monitor. (Fees: Yes. $1 a month and 0.25% to 0.5% per year).
Automatically Figure Out How Much You Can Save
Kind of condescendingly marketing itself towards “those who lack the time or ability” to improve their own financial health, Digit monitors your checking account, bill paying and spending behavior to identify leftover money to automatically move into a FDIC-insured Digit savings account. (Fees: No. But Digit does make money on interest earned on your money held in its managed account).
If This Then That For Savings
Stockholm-based Qapital allows you to set “if…then” rules for automatically saving money for specific big-ticket desires. For adults, they suggest trade-offs like “for every Starbucks coffee I buy, put aside $2 for our trip to Europe”. Qapital also provides a visual progress overview, including a deadline to keep your kid from getting through books as slowly as you probably do. (Fees: None. Though, like Digit, it appears Qapital earns interest on the money it holds in your FDIC-insured Qapital Savings Account).
Save on Spending
Snap by Groupon
The recently launched Snap takes Groupon’s “Let’s make a deal” pedigree and adopts it for a cash-back reward system on a revolving selection of promoted grocery products. Buy any of the products on the list anywhere you want, upload a photo of your receipt, and boom, you’re infinitesimally richer. (Fees: No. But users who don’t redeem any offer for 12 months will be charged a monthly account maintenance fee).
Boasting that its customers can expect 4.3% higher returns than “a typical DIY investor,” Betterment offers a host of services, squaring off against traditional firms like Fidelity by offering IRA and retirement planning, stock market consulting, trusts, and, for job-hopping Millennials, 401(k) consolidation. Services also include “Tax Loss Harvesting”, which sounds like a terrifying sci-fi plot involving aliens harvesting accountants for food, but is is actually a way to use investment losses to offset taxable income. (Fees: Betterment operates on a regressive fee scale. The more you invest, the less you pay as a percentage. For example, $4,965 invested will cost you 0.35% annually or about about $1/month; $402,587 will cost you less than half that at 0.15%).