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5 Best Budgeting Apps for People Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Man walking using a budgeting app

Keep your budget with you everywhere you go!

These apps take a little set-up, but after that, enjoy taking the brainwork out of every spending decision. Whether you’re just trying to cut down on needless spending or saving up for a big purchase, these apps can help you reach your goal quicker.

Every Dollar

Available on Android, iOS and on desktop, Every Dollar has a very simple user interface that makes budgeting simple. User can expect to take less than ten minutes setting their first budget. The service ditches spreadsheets and offers many helpful visuals so you can see where your money is going. Tracking your spending and managing your money is super convenient with the app, and it syncs across devices so whenever you open it, you’re looking at the most up to date information. Every Dollar lets you budget confidently – the app is based on a proven plan that has helped millions of people get out of debt.

Mint

Available on both iOS and Android, Mint is one of the most popular money managing apps. Users can easily view all of their bank accounts in the app and categorize all of their expenses by category, such as utilities or food. Unique to Mint is that it lets you set spending limits for each category, and will send you an alert when you are approaching the limit. Users can also get a free credit score within the app. Lastly, users should feel safe using Mint, as it was developed by Intuit and backed by their security system.

Digit

Digit it perhaps the most unique app on this list. It does the basics like connecting to your bank account and view your transaction history just like the others. What sets it apart is that it analyzes your income and spending habits over time, and by using a unique algorithm it sets aside small amounts of money into a separate “Digit savings” account that it thinks you would have spent wastefully. Many users claim it has helped them save a lot of money, but if you don’t like it you can easily transfer the money back to your checking account for no fee. Lastly, the service has a “no overdraft guarantee” and promises to not take more money than you can afford out of your account.

Level Money

Level money is a great app for people who know the importance of saving and want to do it, while also spending their hard money however they choose. Level money lets you set a savings goal for a time period and helps you plan for future expenses, like bills. The app then informs you of any money you have left over – called spendable money – and illustrates this nicely with a helpful graph. The app also has a daily spending guide to help you stay focused on your financial goals, and will alert you if you’re spending more than usual.

Spendbook

This one is only for iOS users, and will cost $1.99. Spendbook has built in expense tracking and lets you set budgets. The app is very user friendly, adding a new income stream or expense transaction can be done with just a swipe down. The app lets you take photos of receipts and items you have purchased and then categorize them. Lastly, the app gives users a daily and monthly summary of their expenses, as well as charts and infographics to help users spot trends in their spending habits and look for ways to improve.

 

5 Signs Its Time to Refinance Your Auto Loan

Auto recently refinanced drives into the sunset

Drivers stand to benefit from an auto loan re-finance as much as homeowners do from a home re-fi.

Refinancing isn’t a good idea for everyone- nor is it a given because of good credit history or months of on time payments. For example, if your car is worth less than the remaining loan balance (upside down), then the lender likely won’t approve your request to refinance. You can see how much your car is currently worth by looking it up on Kelley Blue Book or AutoTrader.Com. If your auto loan isn’t upside down, you may be in luck. Here are five scenarios which could qualify you for a refinanced auto loan.

Your Credit Score Has Improved

Perhaps when you signed the loan for the car originally, you had a bad credit score and the deal you got wasn’t great. Maybe it was your first car purchase, and as such you didn’t have much credit built up. Whatever the reason, if your score has improved, there is a good chance you can refinance at a lower rate. In this scenario, it is not uncommon for consumers to be facing an interest rate that is hovering around 18%. Several months of on time payments could be enough to convince the lender you deserve a lower rate.

Interest Rates Have Decreased

If interest rates have decreased since you signed the original car loan, now could be an excellent opportunity to refinance. Don’t think it needs to be a huge difference in percentage points for it to make a difference – even just one or two percent could save you a good amount of money over the course of the loan. However, be aware that under this scenario, the new car loan will be considered the same as a used car loan – which entails a higher rate. Still, you can likely still come out ahead, and with limited fees and a simple process, there is no reason not to explore this option.

Your Lease is Expiring and you Want to Buy the Car  

Many dealerships give you the option of purchasing a leased vehicle outright after you have fulfilled the terms of the lease. When it comes to finding a lender that can help you refinance, look to Credit Unions. Many have a history in helping consumers do exactly this. Be aware that you will have to open a checking or savings account at one if you wish to do this if you aren’t a member. 

Your Financial Situation Has Changed

 Has your financial situation changed for the worse recently? If this is the case, your loan provider may be willing to work with you. While it may be difficult to lower the interest rate directly in this situation, you could be able to stretch the payment out over more months, decreasing the amount owed every month.

Your Original Loan Wasn’t Great 

Even if you had a good credit score when you agreed to the loan, it doesn’t mean you necessarily got a great deal. Perhaps you didn’t know any better and looking back you believe the rate is too high. Often, this is the case when getting the loan through a dealership instead of an outside lending institution. The higher the interest rate the dealer charges the more money they can make, which is why if you’re getting a loan through the dealer, it always pays to negotiate. If you believe this to be the case and have been making the payments constantly, you very well could qualify for a reduced interest rate on the loan.

If any of the above situations applies to you, it would be wise to consider refinancing your vehicle. Even just a few percentage points between loans could mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars saved over the course of many months. Looking for a place to get started? Check out BankRate’s Auto Loan Calculator and see how much you could save by refinancing!

 

5 Ways to Be Debt Free by Christmas

Family Celebrating being Debt Free

 

Most people have some debt, but if your situation has gotten out of hand, now is the time to figure out how you can pay it off before it gets even worse. By figuring out how much you owe, picking a strategy to pay it off, and making a couple sacrifices along the way, you could be debt free by Christmas.

Here’s how to get started:

Know how much money you owe

The first step to paying off the debt you owe is to figure out exactly how much debt you’re in. You may have avoided doing this because you’re scared of the number, but it essential as it will help you keep perspective and figure out a plan to pay it off. Gather all debts you owe, from credit cards to student loans to medical expenses, and calculate how much it all adds up to.

Develop a strategy

The next step is to develop a strategy to pay off the debt. This is important. Picking and being able to stick to a strategy will help you pay down the debt faster, while also knowing that the sacrifices you’re making to do so have a set end date, giving you some peace of mind. There are two main strategies to pay off debt: Debt avalanche and debt snowball. The first one is the fastest, and has you pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first. This can save you a lot of money over the long term, but you won’t feel much progress is being made at first.

If you feel as if you need to see yourself making progress to stick to a strategy, debt snowball is likely for you. This strategy takes the opposite approach. Arrange your debts from smallest to biggest (ignore the interest rate) and begin paying off the smallest ones first. This will help you see that you are making progress, but will likely cost you money over the long term due to interest.

 Commit a set amount of money to the debt

 Another excellent way to help you pay down your debt steadily is to set aside a set amount of money every month and put it towards the debt. Start out by calculating how much you need to spend per month on necessities (include building up an emergency fund) and then subtract that from your total monthly income to get an idea about how much you can put towards the debt every month. The higher the debt, the more of that money you will want to dedicate towards it.

Get a side job

Even with these strategies, paying off these debts is no easy task. It takes persistence and sacrifice for possibly years. One way to help you but a bigger dent in the amount you owe is to get a side job. Even if it’s just on the weekends doing something simple, you could easily find yourself with a couple extra hundred dollars at the end of every month to put towards the debt. It may not sound like a lot, but it could save you hundreds if not thousands over the long run, and you’ll have that debt paid down much quicker.

Happy debt-free people

Renting a room

When calculating your total monthly expenses, chances are the rent towards your apartment is what is eating up most of your budget. You could downsize to a smaller apartment, but this would involve lots of paperwork and being stuck there for a few years. An alternative solution is to rent out a room in someone’s house or apartment. There is little to no hassle, and with the money saved, you could put even more towards the debt or perhaps avoid getting that side job. Either way, if you owe a lot of money, this is certainly an option to look into.

 


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