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Automating your savings strategy is always a good idea. Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easier to stick to the plan. Why? Because when you don't think about it, you are less likely to tap into your savings. In other words, you don't even have to think about it, so you become less aware that your money is slow being socked away.
And a third of Americans have $1,000 or less in savings which shows the urgency of beefing up savings.
Even if you think you are immune to this sort of self-sabotage, there is no real downside to automatic savings apps. They allow you to remove all of the manual work, and the money is always there if you absolutely need it.
Acorns is the first automatic savings app on the list, and it's one of our favorites. The app initially differentiated itself with its round-up feature which lets you invest your spare change. Every time you spend money using a card linked to the app, it lets you round up to the nearest dollar amount and add the difference to Acorns.
Once you have at least $5 in spare change saved, Acorns will invest it automatically in low-cost ETFs. $5 isn't all that much in reality, but it's a good start for someone who has never invested before.
Plus, Acorns does give you the option to invest as much as you want through the app. You can set up recurring, automatic investments of any amount you want. You can also turn off round-ups if you prefer not to use that feature.
Acorns pricing: $1, $3, or $5/month.
To learn more about Acorns, read our Acorns review.
Chime has been advertising a lot lately, so you might have seen some of its ads. I have even spotted their logo on some NBA jerseys. Chime is an online bank, but it also has an app that lets you save automatically.
Like many automatic savings apps, Chime has followed suit after Acorns and offers round-ups. Plus, its Save When I Get Paid feature automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your spend account to your savings account.
It also offers a 0.50% APY on savings account balances (subject to change). Overall, Chime is an excellent bank, and its automatic savings feature is makes it easy to save up.
Chime pricing: As a bank, Chime doesn't charge you a monthly fee.
Qapital describes itself as "banking designed with goals in mind." Thus, it lets you save money based on goals you set, then Qapital does the work for you.
Unlike Chime, Qapital isn't a bank. Instead, it helps you manage your bank accounts, budget, and save money automatically. Like the others mentioned so far, it, too, offers round-ups.
Another nice feature of Qapital is it allows you to save on your own, or add your spouse or friends and family. Qapital is an attractive option that makes it easy to save.
Qapital pricing: $3, $6, or $12/month.
Current is another mobile banking app that focuses on helping you manage your money. Round-ups are available through what Current calls Saving Pods. These pods also allow you to set aside specific amounts of money automatically to meet savings goals.
Current offers lots of cool perks, too, like getting paid up to two days faster than traditional banks. There is also the benefit of being covered for up to $100 of overdraft fees per month. Another cool feature is up to 15x points at participating merchants and access to 55,000 ATMs.
Most of the more interesting features are reserved for a premium account. But you can still sign up for a basic account for free to see if you like the service.
Current pricing: Free or $4/month.
5. Long Game
Long Game is an attempt to game-ify your savings, something that is unique on this list. But its name also appears to be a nod to the fact that personal finance experts call saving and investing a long game.
In its attempt to make the saving experience fun, Long Game allows you to play 45+ games that allow you to win cash and even cryptocurrency. There is a daily game that lets you earn coins and savings missions that help you earn more coins to play.
You earn better rewards through Long Game when you sign up with a partner bank that offers better rewards. Plus, your account is FDIC-insured and there are no fees to use it.
Long Game pricing: No monthly fees.
Digit is an automatic savings and investing app that has been around since 2015. One of the unique aspects of Digit is it offers more guidance than the other apps on this list. While some of the others simply allow you to set goals, Digit analyzes your spending habits and automatically moves money to savings based on its algorithm.
Thus, Digit won't put money into savings if it doesn't think you have anything to spare. It also focuses on specific savings goals, such as for rent or a family vacation. It also emphasizes the need for an emergency fund, and the fact that many Americans have less than $1,000 shows why that is so important.
Digit also offers overdraft protection, transferring money instantly to your bank if you are about to overdraw your checking account. Digit used to be free but charges a monthly fee these days; however, there is a 30-day free trial.
Digit pricing: $5/month.
Ready to Start Saving Automatically?
If you want to start saving and investing but aren't sure where to get started, we recommend Acorns. It allows you to automatically invest your spare change (plus any amount you choose) in a low-cost portfolio of ETFs. These ETFs have built-in diversification, meaning you can grow your money effortlessly with this app.
If you decide to give it a try, we do recommend going beyond only investing your spare change. Why? Because while investing your change is nice, it's only a start. It's a powerful concept, but it probably won't allow you to retire comfortably with adequate savings.
If you're ready to get started with Acorns, open your account today.