Ten companies that can help improve your financial health
By Zina Kumok, personal finance writer
Going it alone is hard, and that’s especially true with your finances. So many people suffer in silence, afraid to reach out and tell the world the truth: “I’m in financial trouble and I need help.”
That trouble could be as benign as poor saving habits, or as serious as a shopping addiction racking up thousands in debt. Either way, it can be embarrassing to admit and downright stressful to handle.
Thankfully, asking for help doesn’t have to mean calling your rich uncle for a favor. Most financial problems can be dealt with in anonymity - especially in the digital age of automated apps and online communication. You can easily start the journey to financial wellness without leaving your home.
Here are some of the best companies today that can help you improve your financial health.
Digit makes the process of improving your financial health as easy as checking your text messages. Digit is an app that transfers small amounts of money every few days from your checking account into a separate savings account. It determines how much to save by how much you currently have in your bank account. The more you have, the more money it will transfer.
You can withdraw funds, check your balance or increasing your savings by texting Digit. It doesn’t charge any fees for its service, even if you pause saving.
If you buy something that goes on sale later, most companies will happily refund you the difference - if you ask. But keeping track of every purchase can be overwhelming, and taking the time to contact a company after the fact can be tedious.
That’s where Paribus comes in. The app syncs with your email provider and scans your email receipts. If there’s a cost change, it contacts the store on your behalf and asks for the difference. Paribus keeps 25% of that difference as its fee.
One of the simplest ways to decrease your debt is to refinance your loans. SoFi provides refinancing for mortgages, personal loans and even student loans. Its current interest rates are 3.33% APR for fixed-rate loans and 2.12% APR for variable rate loans.
Not only is Sofi one of the few companies that refinances student loans, it recently started a robo-advisor program. The program is free if you also hold a loan with SoFi, offering a great opportunity for recent college graduates looking to improve their finances as they pay off debt.
One of the original budget websites, Mint uses your bank and credit card information to sync your finances in one easy-to-see format. The site notifies you when it encounters unnecessary expenses, like ATM fees, and suggests ways to avoid them in the future.
Mint will also calculate how you can reach your set savings and debt payoff goals and notify you of bill due dates so you'll never pay a late fee again.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
YNAB is the budget system for people who want to track where every dollar goes. It’s ideal for those committed to making big changes in their finances. Extensive categories include gaming, software subscriptions and “stuff I forgot to budget for.”
Consumers have the choice of using the website or the app. The latter allows conscious consumers to check their budgets on the go, so they can rethink that $20 bottle of wine if their alcohol category is over budget.
Unlike Mint, which is free, YNAB costs $5 a month or $50 if you pay for a year in advance.
Qoins rounds up every purchase made and allocates the difference toward your debt. The more often you spend, the more money goes toward your loans. You can link your mortgage, student loans or auto debt to your account.
Qoins charges $1.99 per month, so this app’s fees might not be worth the benefit if you mostly rely on cash.
Like Qoins, Acorns uses your spare change to change your finances. It rounds up money from every purchase you make and invests that amount in a low-cost ETF that holds a variety of securities. Anyone who thinks they don’t have enough to invest could benefit from this app.
Acorns only charges $1 a month for accounts with less than $5,000. Those with more than $5,000 pay only .25% - one of the lowest fees in the industry.
One of the newest savings goals apps on the market, Qapital promotes savings by inviting users to create their own automatic triggers.
For example, you can round up every purchase and ask Qapital to save the change for your trip to Iceland. You could also institute a penalty for skipping the gym by deducting a certain amount and transferring it to a savings goal. The possibilities might not be endless, but this app allows a much higher level of flexibility than other saving apps.
Consumers can also create budgets through Qapital. If you come in under budget, the app transfers the extra amount to your specific goal. Qapital is completely free, with no sign-up, monthly or minimum balance fees.
Level Money is a budget app that provides more guidance than most of its competitors. The app analyzes your earnings and expenses and gives you a daily allowance. It alerts you when you’ve spent too much or when you have money left over.
Level Money prides itself on working well with freelancers and those with irregular incomes by basing its algorithm on average income. It’s also a great option for those who feel like they need a third party to help them exercise self-control.
ClearPoint Credit Counseling
Credit counselors sometimes get a bad rap for promising the answer to all your money questions. ClearPoint is a nonprofit that offers comprehensive budget strategies along with traditional debt counseling.
Their debt management program negotiates with lenders to get customers lower interest rates and smaller fees. The service also educates people on how to avoid debt in the future and how to stay on top of their finances going forward.
Want another way to improve your financial health? Take a look at your credit score. Your bad credit is expensive and could cost you thousands in the long run. Check out Self Lender's credit builder accounts for a safe and responsible option that may help improve your credit score.