Money confuses me. As a child, I understood the concept of add/subtract, multiply by four, but my interest in numbers fizzled into nothing once Calculus rounded the corner. In this my twenty-fifth year, I have no more excuses for why I don’t budget, save, and invest what little money I make, so I am turning my fear of being broke forever into action. I know I can’t possibly be the only one with absolutely no financial education, so I am going to share this little journey with you in the hope that you will learn with me. I have come up with a list of finance apps geared toward millennial women, or anyone who is just generally confused by money, how to have it, and how to keep it. I don’t understand BitCoin or why it’s relevant to real life, so we are going to stay away from that.
Honestly you guys, Acorns is an amazing app and the best one I have used to date to help me to start investing my money. It isn’t free, but the full package is only $3 a month. It offers tons of useful features like automated investing of the change left over from purchases, a portfolio and IRA designed by a top economist that automatically shifts with market trends, and recommendations for everything from where to invest your petty change to which individual retirement account is right for you. There is also the option to get an Acorns debit card, probably the best one you have ever had because there are no overdraft or minimum balance fees. Great incentives for hand-to-mouth young adults who absolutely need that last $10 in their accounts.
Stash is probably the most user-friendly app on this list, so if you are just as scared of technology as you are of money, never fear. It is particularly great about educating its users about how to become a more informed investor. This app is great if you need a little more hand-holding when it comes to starting your investment journey (contrary to what every baby-boomer will tell you, hand-holding is not a bad thing when you are trying to build confidence). Stash caters to a millennial and Gen-Z demographic who are far more socially conscious than their predecessors, so it offers a wide range of companies and ventures so that you can invest in the places that matter the most to you. It also teaches you what to look for when making these decisions, and provides articles so you can keep learning on the go. Best part: you only need $5 to get started!
Robinhood, as per its namesake, is all about leveling the playing field when it comes to the gap between rich and poor. Most of us are scared of investing because the word itself inspires visions of powerful white men in suits, twirling the world in one hand and controlling the stock market on their iPhones with the other. Robinhood is upsetting that vision and making investment opportunities accessible for the 99%. It is completely free, and offers zero commission trading. In my opinion, Robinhood is for a more advanced investor than the average, financially illiterate youngster, so if you are a seasoned adulter with some idea of what you are doing, Robinhood is for you. There is even an option to invest in cryptocurrencies, so if you know what that word means, go for it.
Mint is a tool that keeps you regular when it comes to managing money. It tracks your billing cycles for you, helps you create budgets, and checks your credit score. It’s an all around solid app that will help you stay organized and track your finances.
5. You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget is even better than Mint when it comes to staying organized. It breaks down your earnings, purchases, and projections and lays it all out clearly so that if you do deviate from your budget, it’s easy to recover and get back on track. Their website also offers free 20-minute classes on how to make a budget and stick to it. Great for the chronically stressed.
I highly recommend that beginners visit their banks and sit down with a financial adviser. They are there to help you manage your spending habits and start saving for your future. Not all banks have great advisers, so if that is true for yours, Coursera offers a plethora of financial literacy classes. These are free courses taught through renowned universities for the benefit of the public. Open2Study is another good MOOC that has some great options for financial education. Take advantage and get that paper!