As a self-employed woman living in one of the most expensive places in the US, I’ve had to get pretty good at budgeting. This is not something that comes easily for me. Unlike my boyfriend who seems to squirrel away $100s like no one’s business, I’m constantly tempted by cute tops or kitchen gadgets or the latest and greatest tech.
Now that I work home alone all day, that temptation has only gotten worse. Online shopping is an easy way to take a ten minute “break” during the day, and either I’ll find myself perusing Pinterest or Craigslist or the latest sale at Sephora. I’m trying to remind myself that shopping only provides short-lived gratification and it can’t be a hobby and “will that blender really make me any happier?” – but it’s a lifelong lesson.
Today, instead of talking about coupon-ing apps or the latest deal sites like Groupon, which only seem to make me spend more money, I’m going to share the real tools that I use every single day to save.
I don’t know how I survived without this amazing website/app for so long. I’ve tried a number of budgeting tools over the years, but it usually lasts about 10 days before I’m over it. Mint, which I talked about in my November favorites post, automatically tracks my bank account, credit cards, bills, debt, and credit score so I can see exactly what’s going on with my money from one simple dashboard. One of my favorite features is how easily I can split transactions, allowing me to easily keep track of the purchases Reg and I share or divide up large Target purchases into their separate categories like home supplies and personal care. Now, whenever I’m thinking about making a medium or large purchase, I head to Mint first to get a real sense of where I’m at with my money for the month.
What Mint is for budgeting, Digit is for my savings. Here’s the basic idea: Every few days, Digit checks your spending habits and removes a few dollars from your checking account if you can afford it. It hides that money away into a separate savings account that’s FDIC backed, so I can be sure it’s safe. That means, it removes somewhere between $1 and $50 every few days into my savings, so I don’t even have to think about it. It’s never so much that I “feel” the pain of money-loss, but the next thing I know, I’ve saved $600! I also like that it doesn’t show up on my Mint dashboard, which means I never factor in this emergency fund to how much money I actually have to spend.
My email inbox was a real mess before this app came along (and it’s another one I covered in a favorites post last year). Unroll.Me allows you to quickly swipe to unsubscribe from email lists or “roll them up” into a single daily summary instead of getting several emails throughout the day. Now I’m no longer getting 10 emails from JCrew, Urban Outfitters, REI, and my other “guilty pleasure” stores all day every day. I’ve unsubscribed from most of these email lists, but the ones that I really do want to keep getting email from (Sephora coupon codes anyone?), I now just get a single email packed together, lessening the temptation to boredom shop on my lunch break.
What are your favorite money-saving apps? Have you tried any of these?