Personal finance apps aren’t just used to help consumers be savvier spenders and savers. They can also help small business owners manage their money more strategically.
Some apps focus on saving and investing, while others provide budgeting and cash flow insight and management features. As the new year begins, there’s no better time to think about how you’ll save more and budget smarter in the months ahead. Here are four apps to consider using and how they work:
The app Acorns automates your saving and investing by rounding up the price to the nearest dollar of all purchases made on any linked debit and credit cards. The spare change is then swept into an investment account. For business owners who regularly purchase things like materials and merchandise, that extra change can add up quickly.
There’s no account minimum, and users can start investing in one of Acorns’ five portfolios—built to target different levels of risk tolerance—with as little as $5. Fees start at $1 per month for the basic plan, rising to $3 a month for a broad range of financial services, including a checking account.
Nate Masterson, founder of New Jersey-based Maple Holistics, a health and beauty products company, says he signed up for Acorns in 2017 because it made saving and investing easy. “I particularly like the ability to invest small amounts of money at a time,” he says.
Digit uses artificial intelligence to help you manage your cash flow and save for specific goals. When you link your checking accounts and credit cards, proprietary algorithms monitor your income, learn your spending patterns, and then calculate how much you can save toward specific goals based on your current account balances and expected future expenses.
It then scans your checking accounts regularly and pulls out what it identifies as excess cash, moving it to an FDIC-insured savings account. For $2.99 a month, you can set up savings accounts based on specific goals—such as buying new equipment you’ll need next year or funding a new product launch. You decide how much of every sweep goes into each account.
A free app from Intuit, Mint can complement your accounting software by pulling all of your assets, liabilities, income and expenses into a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate balance sheet. It works best when you plug in all your financial information—checking and savings accounts, investment portfolios, mortgages, loans, and credit cards, along with corporate and personal assets, such as your house and business equity.
Onboard tools help you create (and stick to) a budget, analyze your cash flow, set goals and monitor your progress in real time. It will also categorize all transactions into predetermined silos, so you can keep all of your business and personal finances separate.
YNAB helps you manage your budget by assigning a job to every dollar that flows into your business. You first link up your bank accounts. The app then creates a series of buckets aligned with your anticipated spending needs. For example, you can set up buckets for regular fixed expenses, such as rent and payroll, with a date set for when each is due. Other buckets might be for less frequent expenses, such as quarterly taxes or insurance payments.
When any money comes in, you designate specific amounts for each bucket. “So instead of just seeing I have $5,000 in the bank, I can look in YNAB and see that $1,500 is assigned to rent already, so I really only have $3,500 left,” explains Chad Henley, owner of Naturalcare Cleaning Service.
With more than 30 technicians cleaning homes throughout the Houston metro area and more than $1 million in revenue, Henley uses YNAB to manage the entire budget, from payroll to regular expenses to setting money aside for unexpected expenses. “It forces me to stay within my budget, because once all of the dollars are assigned, if there’s nothing left over, I just don’t buy anything that’s not on the list until more money comes in,” he says.
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