Best apps for the perfect college student budget

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With COVID-19 amplifying the use of technology and budgeting digitally, apps such as “Mint,” “YNAB,” “Acorns” and “Robinhood” are a great place to start the perfect college student budget.

With technology being implemented more and more into our lives, companies are developing apps to make money managing easier than ever for us college students.
Mint, an app by Intuit (makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks), is the app that does a little bit of everything.
You can create a budget, track your cash flow, check when upcoming bills are due, check your credit score and even browse their marketplace for credit cards, loans and savings accounts.
It connects to your bank account to keep track of your purchases as they happen and you can sort them into different categories in your budget.
This app can be confusing to navigate the first time, especially when making a budget, but after the learning curve, it can be a really powerful app. This app is free to use.
The next app is You Need A Budget, or YNAB, an app solely dedicated to budgeting.
Like Mint, YNAB can link to your bank account to track your purchases and categorize them. The user interface is also the easiest to navigate and comes with a robust default budget you can start with.
It will also ask you to categorize each purchase as they happen, which may help you keep track of where your spending is going. You can also have multiple budgets set up.
The app requires a $12 per month (or an $84 annual) subscription in order to use after the 34 day trial period.
Next is Google Sheets, the Google equivalent to Microsoft Excel.
The benefit of using Sheets is you can customize your sheet to any format you like by typing in your own headers and formulas into the boxes.
This application also has cloud integration, meaning all of your sheets are stored on Google’s cloud and can be accessed from any phone or computer you can log into your Google account from.
The files can also be edited by people with whom you choose to share it with. This allows you to make a budget with family members or roommates.
The downside of Google Sheets is the learning curve required. Since the application is so customizable, you will need to learn how to use formulas and format your sheets to how you want.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and templates online to teach you how to build a budget using Google Sheets. Tillerhq.com, Clark.com, and Michaelsaves.com each provide articles that teach how to use Google’s built-in budgeting templates.
There is no paid subscription required in order to use this application, but a Google account is required.
The last two apps are for investing, rather than budgeting. It can be good to set aside money to be invested and grow over time, and these apps can help you do just that.
First is Acorns, an investment app that uses the spare change from your purchases and invests it into stocks.
The basic service costs $1 a month, and only includes the spare change investments. The next subscription tier costs $3 a month, which includes a retirement account and access to their debit card, which invests your spare change as you make purchases with it. The highest tier is $5 a month which also gives you a child savings account, which can be useful if you’re a student raising children, but struggling to save money for their future.
The app also allows you to set up daily, weekly, or monthly deposits the app uses to invest for you.
If you’re looking for a passive way to invest your money, Acorns may be for you. But if you want to take a more active role, you may be interested in Robinhood instead.
Robinhood is an investment app that lets you directly buy and sell stocks and cryptocurrencies.
As opposed to Acorn, which does all of the investing for you, Robinhood allows you to buy and sell your own stocks. When you first sign up, Robinhood gives you a free stock, which can be anywhere from a cheap $5 stock, to a higher value one from companies such as Facebook or Google. From there, you can deposit money and do your own trading.
Robinhood does offer a premium subscription service to use its more advanced tools, but is not required for the main purposes of the app.
Building a budget and managing your money are important skills to develop, whether you’re just entering college or a returning student. These apps may prove useful to develop those skills.