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Here’s how to find the personal finance app that’s right for you

Before you get started with your search, know your personal goals for your finances.

PORTLAND, Maine — Want to do a better job of handling your personal finances? Hey, who doesn’t? Alas, it’s a bit like resolving to lose weight and get in shape: we often start out with the best of intentions, only to revert to our old bad habits after just a few weeks.

207’s tech guy, Rich Brooks of Flyte New Media in Portland, says one way to improve your chances of success is to find a good personal finance app. How can you find the app that best suits your needs? Here are the talking points Brooks provided in his interview with 207:

Question: You went looking for the best personal finance apps ... what did you find?

"Truth be told, I found a lot of sameness out there. Most of the 'best of' lists started with Mint, and for good reason.

"I've been using Mint for years, and it's a great way to track my spending, stay on budget, monitor my credit report, and more. It connects to my credit card and bank accounts, and you can also tie in other investments, like stocks, bonds, and more.

"Also, it's free. It's supported by ads and affiliate fees, as it will often recommend financial services of which it gets a cut.

"In short, if you only want one personal finance app on your phone, most people will be happy with Mint."

Question: But what about if you're not typical, or you're OK with more than one app on your phone? 

"Thanks for asking.

"There are some apps that have a singular feature or approach that make them perfect for specific audiences or needs.

"For example, if you're in a relationship and sharing expenses, you and your significant other may want to check out Honeydue, the financial app for couples. It allows you to see what's in your personal accounts, shared accounts, and to see what bills are coming up.

"A nice feature is that it also allows you to review bills and charges together, messaging each other to understand where you're spending your money.

"Honeydue is free with ads, although you can set up a monthly 'tip' for the developers of $1 to $10, and you'll get reminded to tip if you're not."

Question: What if it's more than just the two of you? A whole family, or a roommate situation?

"Then you should check out Spendee. Spendee has all the features you'd expect, but you can also have multiple 'wallets' with family members or roommates for tracking bills and expenses. You'll never have to argue over who forgot to pay the electricity bill again!

"The app is free, but if you want to unlock the multiple wallets feature, you'll need to spend $15 annually."

Question: How about for people who feel they're living paycheck to paycheck?

"My recommendation would be YNAB, or You Need a Budget. Instead of looking backwards, like a lot of apps do, YNAP looks forward, putting your money to work and minimizing the impact of 'surprise' expenses, like a car repair or trip to the ER.

"This app does require you to take an active role in your own spending and budgeting, but I feel that's a good thing. Plus, they have a great resource of helpful videos you can find on YouTube. Worth checking out even if you don't have the app. I sent the link to my kids.

"The one caveat here is where Mint is free, YNAB costs about $8 a month if you buy it a year at a time."

Question: And how about people who are looking to invest? 

"One of the more popular apps out there for investing, including cryptocurrency, is Robinhood. Although it got a bit of bad press last year during the 'meme stock' phase, it's still a popular app that allows you to invest in stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency, and more.

"The app itself is free, and offers commission-free investing, but generates most of its revenue from transaction-based revenues, including payments."

Question: Any last thoughts on personal finance apps?

"It really comes down to what you are looking for and what your goals are. Are you looking to watch your spending, or need help setting more aside? Do you need to manage your finances alongside someone else or just by yourself? Are you looking to save up for a vacation, or for retirement?

"Knowing your personal goals will help you figure out which personal finance app is best suited to help you now."

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