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Stash Debit Card Review: Big Pull for Micro Investors

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Fintech startup Stash offers more than just micro-investing opportunities, thanks to its cash management account. Once you have a Stash Invest account, you can access Stash’s debit account and debit card (known as the Stash Stock-Back® Card) powered by Green Dot Bank. There are no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees, and access to over 19,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide is included. You can even opt to earn Stash Stock-Back™ Rewards on your debit card purchases, similar to cashback rewards.

Read on to learn more about the Stash Stock-Back® Card and its rewards to determine whether it’s the right addition to your financial arsenal.

Stash banking and Stock-Back card features

The Stash banking account is separate from the Stash Invest account, although you can access both using your Stash login. You’ll need to have a Stash Invest account first in order to open a Stash banking account.

The banking account is another place to keep your cash within the app, although it doesn’t earn interest or automatically invest your money. You can open an account without depositing a minimum amount. The cash in the banking portion of Stash is FDIC-insured by Green Dot Bank, so your money is protected.

With the Stash banking account, you can separate your money into different buckets based on your savings and budgeting goals. You also can set up automatic roundups or investment transfers to automate your savings. Even better, Stash allows you to get your paycheck up to two days earlier than most banks when you receive it through direct deposit.

Stash Stock-Back

While you can’t earn interest or invest the funds in your Stash banking account, there is an opportunity to earn rewards through Stash Stock-Back once you have a balance of at least $1. With Stash’s Stock-Back program, you earn 0.125% of each qualifying purchase you make with your Stash debit card at over 11 million retail outlets as a stock reward. Some merchants may even offer bonuses where you can earn up to 5% of each purchase as Stock-Back rewards.

The stock rewards can be in shares of the vendor where you made the purchase, and if the vendor’s stock is listed on the Stash Platform, your reward is in the shares of that company. For example, every time you get Taco Bell and pay with your Stash debit card, you earn a small percentage of YUM! Brands stock. If a vendor’s stock isn’t available on Stash, you’ll earn your Stock-Back reward as shares in Vanguard Total World Stock ETF.

With Stock-Back rewards, customers aren’t really getting full shares — or at least not until they’ve done a lot of spending. Instead, Stash invests small amounts of money in stock by offering users fractional shares. In this category of stock investing, brokerages split shares of stock into smaller parts to help small investors diversify their holdings or gain access to shares with relatively high per-share prices.

The Stock-Back rewards you earn on qualifying debit purchases using your Stash debit card will be added to your Stash Invest account.

Stock-Back® Card fees and fine print

Stash boasts zero hidden fees on its debit account, although there are fees on a few types of transactions, detailed below. However, you won’t face a fee for overdraft/insufficient funds, ACH bank transfers, direct deposits and replacement debit cards.

While there’s no monthly fee to add a Stash banking account, the Stash platform itself costs a monthly fee. Stash Invest accounts cost $1, $3 or $9 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

Stash Debit Account Fees
Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50
Out-of-network ATM balance inquiry fee$0.50
Teller cash withdrawal fee$2.50
Cash deposit feeUp to $5.95, varies by retailer
Foreign transaction fee3% of total transaction amount

Most significantly, you’ll get dinged for using out-of-network ATMs. Plus, since Stash operates entirely online, it also charges a fee for using a bank teller to withdraw cash from your account.

Additionally, you cannot make cash deposits at an ATM. Instead, you must visit participating retailers — including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart — to deposit cash at a cashier. The fee for this service will depend on the retailer, but can reach up to $5.95. Further, you can only deposit up to $2,500 in cash per day.

Stash debit card pros and cons

Pros

  • Wide investment network: With 11 million retail outlets on its platform, Stash provides expansive opportunities to earn fractional shares from places you shop.
  • Easy portfolio diversification: Stash’s fractional investing is an easy way to diversify your portfolio if you’re using your debit card frequently.
  • FDIC-insured: Stash banking balances are FDIC-insured by Green Dot Bank, which keeps your money protected up to the legal limits.
  • Early paycheck deposit: With Stash, you can get your paycheck direct deposited up to two days earlier than you may at other banks, which can help in a pinch.

Cons

  • Monthly fee for Stash Invest: Your micro-investment returns are unlikely to offset the monthly fee that you’ll need to use Stash Invest, which you must be signed up for in order to take advantage of the banking account and debit card.
  • No interest earned: The Stash debit account is not good for growing your money, as it doesn’t earn interest.
  • Unnecessary fees for cash deposits: Stash doesn’t allow free cash deposits, like most checking accounts do. If you expect to make frequent cash deposits, you might want to consider also having a checking account with free deposits if you still want the Stash account.
  • Not as beneficial as other rewards options: Debit card spending can only get you so far, even if there are rewards involved. Credit cards tend to have more robust rewards programs, and they also help build your credit, which is a crucial part of your financial health. You may want to avoid putting too much of your spending on your Stash debit card (or any debit card) if credit cards are available to you instead.

Is Stash banking safe?

Your Stash banking balances are insured by the FDIC, thanks to its partnership with Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. That means the money you hold in your Stash bank account is protected in case Stash or Green Dot Bank were to go under. Note that once your money is going toward investments, it becomes insured by the SIPC.

Stash also implements several security measures to keep your account, money and information safe. This includes 256-bit encryption, Transport Layer Security (TLS), biometric recognition, session end-timers, log-in thresholds and two-factor authentication. The debit card comes with an EMV chip and a 3-digit security code. You can also lock and unlock your Stash debit card within the Stash app at any time.

And since the Stash debit card is a Visa card, you’re also protected by Visa’s fraud monitoring and zero liability policy. This covers you up to $50 if someone uses your card or PIN without your permission. If this happens, you must report the incident within two business days after learning about it in order to be covered.

How to open the Stock-Back® Card

You’ll need to open a Stash Invest account before you can access the Stash Stock-Back® Card. You can open a Stash account online or in the Stash app. Existing Stash users can find the Bank tab within the app.

You must be at least 18 years old to open a Stash account, although adults can open custodial accounts for minors. You’ll have to provide personal and contact information like your address, Social Security number, a U.S. bank account and identification verification materials.

You should receive your Stash Stock-Back debit card within five to seven business days after depositing funds into your Stash bank account.

Is Stash banking right for you?

A Stash bank account could be good for existing Stash users who don’t already use their credit cards for most purchases. The Stock Back program is a good way to earn fractional stocks, though there are often better rewards that come from using your credit card. You also don’t want to get sucked into using your Stash debit card for purchases you wouldn’t typically make just for the sake of getting fractional shares.

The Stash bank account isn’t a viable replacement for a checking account, either. For one, it doesn’t earn interest, which any good deposit account should. It’s also not entirely free, since you need to pay a monthly fee for Stash Invest and to make cash deposits.

Instead, the account can serve as a go-between from another checking account and your Stash Invest account, making it easier to transfer money to and from your investments.

Alternatives to Stash banking

Stash isn’t the only investment company that offers a bank account. If you’re not sure it’s the right fit, or you simply want to learn about what other options are out there, Acorns and Wealthfront are two other fintechs whose cash management accounts might intrigue you.

 StashAcornsWealthfront
Monthly fee$0 for banking; $1, $3 or $9 for Stash Invest$3 or $5$0 for banking; 0.25% annual fee for investing
Minimum to open$0$0$1
APYN/AN/A0.10%
Early paycheckYesNoYes
Free ATM accessWithin Allpoint networkWithin Allpoint networkWithin Allpoint network subset
FDIC insuredUp to $250,000 through Green Dot BankUp to $250,000 through Lincoln Savings BankUp to $1 million through partner banks

Stash vs. Acorns

Stash and Acorns are quite similar in their respective micro-investing approaches. Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests that spare change. To take advantage of Acorns Spend, you must sign up for either the $3 or $5 Acorns plan.

One key difference between Acorns Spend and Stash is that Acorns Spend lacks an early paycheck feature. However, Acorns Spend offers up to 10% bonus investments when you shop with your metal Acorns Visa debit card, compared to the maximum 5% that Stash Stock-Back can earn.

Stash vs. Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a strong competitor in the robo-advisor and cash management space, and it’s easy to see why. The Wealthfront Cash Account trumps Stash by earning interest, charging fewer fees and providing up to $1 million in FDIC insurance through partner banks.

Wealthfront may provide a more limited network of ATMs near you compared to Stash or Acorns. Like Stash, though, Wealthfront also offers the ability to deposit cash at participating retailers for a fee of up to $5.95; however, Wealthfront has a slightly higher daily limit of $3,000.

*Fees and rates mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

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5 Apps That Loan You Money Before Payday

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Financial emergencies have a habit of cropping up at the worst possible time — when you’re stuck in between paychecks. You might be tempted to turn to a credit card or a payday loan, but those could rack up costly fees.

You may be able to get a portion of your next paycheck early using apps like Earnin or Dave. These paycheck advance apps let you borrow small amounts of money, often without charging interest. With some, you may just pay a membership fee or a voluntary tip.

1. Earnin

  • Withdraw up to $100 per pay period, or up to $500 after continued use of the app.
  • Paycheck advance is available without a credit check
  • No fees or interest — Earnin makes money from voluntary tips

The Earnin app lets you borrow money from your next paycheck without charging fees or interest. However, Earnin does ask for support in the form of tips.

At the start, you may only be able to withdraw up to $100 each pay period. But based on your account balances and use, the pay-period maximum could potentially increase up to $500. The payment will arrive in your checking account within one business day, or even a few seconds, depending on where you bank.

The next time your paycheck hits your bank account, Earnin will automatically withdraw what you owe.

How it works: Earnin keeps track of the money you earn while you work, and you can withdraw a portion of your unpaid wages before your next payday.

Connect your bank account (if Earnin supports your bank) and verify your paycheck schedule. You must have direct deposit set up and linked to a checking account.

2. Dave

  • Interest-free cash advances worth up to $75, or $100 with a Dave debit card
  • Banking app with expense tracking and option to open debit account
  • $1 monthly membership fee and a small fee for expedited delivery, plus voluntary tip

Dave is a membership service that costs $1 per month. Qualified members can get paycheck advances worth up to $75, or up to $100 with a Dave debit card.

The money can take up to three business days to reach your account. There is also an express funding option that will get the money deposited quickly for a fee. You can also choose to give a tip when you take out an advance, but tipping is optional.

How it works: Connect a checking account where your paychecks are directly deposited and have an account history with several consistent paychecks. Your approval may also depend on whether Dave determines whether you’ll have enough money to repay the loan — so if you generally get paid and spend all your money the next day, you might not get approved.

You can repay the loan automatically from your connected checking account, or repay part or all of the advance early if you want.

3. MoneyLion

  • Up to $250 cash advance at 0% APR with Instacash
  • No credit check for using Instacash
  • Personal finance app offering various financial products

MoneyLion is a personal finance app with a variety of features, including interest-free cash advances worth up to $250 with its Instacash feature. MoneyLion also offers mobile banking, credit builder loans, automated investing, financial tracking and cashback rewards.

How it works: Download the MoneyLion app and create an account with your email address. Link your checking account to see if you qualify for 0% APR cash advances of up to $250 without a credit check.

To qualify for Instacash, you should use a checking account that’s been open for at least two months that shows a positive balance and regular income deposits.

4. Brigit

  • Borrow up to $250 with a cash advance without a credit check using Brigit Plus
  • $9.99 monthly membership fee, which includes free instant transfers
  • Banking app that helps with expense tracking

Brigit is a personal finance app that allows you to take out cash advances worth up to $250 with its Brigit Plus plan, which costs $9.99 per month. The amount you can borrow is based on your bank account activity rather than your work schedule.

Brigit Plus offers other features, such as account monitoring, and members are eligible for free extensions if they’re having trouble repaying the loan. Brigit doesn’t charge late fees or instant transfer fees, and it doesn’t ask for tips.

How it works: Connect a checking account that’s been active for at least 60 days, has a positive balance and has at least three recurring direct deposits from the same employer. You’ll also need to have a history of maintaining a positive balance the day of (and day after) your payday.

Once you’re set up, you can request an advance on your next paycheck. The amount will depend on your checking account’s history and can be worth up to $250. You can receive one advance at a time, which will automatically be repaid from your bank account on your next payday. However, you are also able to repay the advance early.

5. Branch

  • Withdraw up to 50% of your earned wages per pay period
  • No fee for standard (three-day) withdrawals or instant withdrawals to your Branch wallet, but $2.99 to $4.99 for instant withdrawals to accounts at any other bank
  • Banking platform partners with employers to offer more financial features

Branch is a financial wellness app that offers interest-free paycheck advances with its Instant Pay feature. You can request an advance of up to 50% of your next paycheck using the app — the money will be deposited into your account, and then paid back with an automatic withdrawal on your next payday.

A standard withdrawal into your bank account is free and could take up to three days. There is a $2.99 to $4.99 fee if you want to request an instant payment to a third-party bank, but instant transfers are free into your Branch Wallet.

How it works: To be eligible for Branch Instant Pay, you must have a checking account with two months’ worth of consecutive direct deposits from the same employer. The company also offers more features if multiple employees at the same company use the app, or if your employer signs up.

Need more money? Consider a personal loan

While a paycheck advance can help when you are in a small pinch, they often cannot cover a larger emergency expense. If you need more money, you might want to take out a personal loan.

Personal loans are often unsecured loans, meaning you’ll qualify based on your creditworthiness. You’ll receive the money and repay the loan over a predetermined period of time. Many personal loans have a fixed interest rate, and you can know exactly how much your monthly payments will be and how much you’ll pay overall before accepting a loan offer.

The downside is that you may wind up paying fees to take out the loan and a lot of interest, especially if you take out a large loan and then spend several years repaying it.

If you have poor or no credit, watch out for online lenders that offer high-rate installment loans. These can seem like good options when the monthly payments are affordable, but the fees and interest can result in repaying several times as much as you borrow. You can explore bad credit loan options here.

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Upgrade

6.94% - 35.97%

36 or 60

months

620

Minimum Credit Score

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on LendingTree’s secure website

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Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

8.05% - 35.89%

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4.99% - 19.99%*

with AutoPay

24 to 144*

months

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*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $295.20.

18.00% - 35.99%

24 to 60

months

Not specified

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on LendingTree’s secure website

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Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $400. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes.

Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.
SoFi

5.99% - 20.69%*

24 to 84

months

680

Minimum Credit Score

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Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 20.69% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of January 19, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.

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Banking Apps, Reviews, Strategies to Save

EveryDollar and EveryDollar Plus: a Budgeting App to Keep You On Track

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Overdraft_lg_mobile vs trad

With so many budgeting apps and options available on the market, it can be hard to decide which tool will work the best for your personal financial situation. One of the newest options that just came out last spring is EveryDollar.

EveryDollar is the budgeting app created by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. No matter if you agree with all of Mr. Ramsey’s financial advice or not, his “Total Money Makeover” program has helped scores of families get out of debt and gain control of their money.

“I’ve been using the EveryDollar budgeting app for about 6 months now and I initially found out about it by listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast,” said Allison Haffner, a money conscious millennial from Colby, Kansas. “If I hadn’t heard about it on his show, I probably wouldn’t have started using it.”

EveryDollar is a budgeting app that can be used on your computer or your smartphone. There are two versions of the program – one is free and the other is a paid option that offers more features for it’s users.

How it Works

EveryDollar

The first step to using EveryDollar is going to the EveryDollar website to create an account and set up your zero-based budget. This process should be quick and easy. The website claims that you can create a budget in ten minutes or less, and it’s probably true if you don’t have a complicated budget.

The EveryDollar website creates eight different spending categories that cover the basics of most peoples’ budgets, but you also have the option to create custom categories for your budget if needed.

In addition to creating spending categories, you can also create and set up “funds” which is their term for different savings accounts, like an emergency fund, a vehicle maintenance fund, and more.

After you’ve finished the initial set-up of your budget and financial goals on the website, you can easily maintain your budget by updating it with your day-to-day expenses and purchases with the app.

As you add your expenses to your budget in EveryDollar, it will help you ensure whether or not your spending is in line with your planned budget by showing you graphs of your spending. This is a good reminder for you to make adjustments to your spending as needed throughout the month.

Pros of EveryDollar

Track in real time: Because EveryDollar is a budgeting app that’s available on your iPhone, it’s easy to put in your spending in real time throughout the day. This gives you plenty of reminders to make sure you are staying on track with your goals.

Split transactions: Another feature that’s great is the ability to “split” transactions when you put them in with your iPhone. For instance, your next trip to the grocery store might include more than just food for your family. If this is the case, you can easily split up the transaction to reflect the money you spent on pet food or other items besides just groceries.

Utilize Dave Ramsey’s Method for current followers: EveryDollar also helps you set financial goals and follow Dave Ramsey’s famous “Baby Steps” with a special tool just for those seven steps of your financial journey.

Sync with your bank accounts: In addition to the basic version of EveryDollar, there is a premium version called EveryDollar Plus that can be connected with your bank account to pull in your transactions automatically. This process occurs overnight and then you’ll have to categorize your expenses with a drag and drop system. You can connect multiple bank accounts and major credit cards to your EveryDollar Plus account, which makes it easy to track all of your spending.

EveryDollar makes it easy to keep track of your budget and have confidence that the information is correct because it does sync across multiple devices. This is a great feature for married couples that will both be accessing their budget on different iPhones or computers.

Cons of EveryDollar

Only iOS enabled: Unfortunately, the EveryDollar budgeting app is only available for iPhone users in the AppStore. Although it is not available for Android users at this time, you can still use the program on your computer. But this option may require you to keep better track of your spending as you are out and about so you can input it into your budget later when you get home and have access to your computer.

Can only sync to bank accounts if you pay: another downside of EveryDollar’s free version is that it can’t be connected to your bank account to automatically pull in your transactions every night as they hit your account. If you don’t want to pay for EveryDollar Plus, you will have to input all of your expenses manually. Although if you’ve been using a handwritten budget or even a spreadsheet of your own making, you’ve likely been doing this anyway.

Takes awhile to adapt: Haffner said the biggest downside she experienced with the EveryDollar app was that it took a little getting used to before she could easily use it for all of her budgeting needs.

“It did take me a little while to learn how to use the app to track my spending. I kept using my old spreadsheet alongside the app for a while until I got the hang of it,” she said.

Misnamed transactions: Another thing to watch out for if you decide to try EveryDollar Plus is the translation of merchant names on your transactions. When the app pulls in the transactions from your bank account or credit card, it converts the merchant names from an abbreviated version to the longer version to make it easier for you to drag and drop your expenses into categories. However, the translations are sometimes incorrect.

EveryDollar Plus Costs

EveryDollar Plus is offered for free for 15 days so you can try it out and see if it will work for your financial needs. During this trial period you will have access to all of the premium features, the most popular of which seems to be the automation between the app and your bank account. After the trial period, the cost for the premium version of the app is $99 per year. However, even if you decide to stick with the free version, the EveryDollar budgeting app offers a lot of features and benefits.

How Does EveryDollar Stack Up?

As mentioned, there are lots of options for budgeting apps. In fact, we even put together a list of the 10 best budgeting apps available.

Mint Budgeting APP

Mint is one the most popular budgeting apps because it’s 100% free for users. It also offers free transaction syncing between your bank account the app to help you keep track of your expenses. This is a feature you’d have to pay for with EveryDollar Plus. But budgeting with EveryDollar is actually faster and more user-friendly than Mint. Some of the “helpful hints” on Mint are actually ads, and users have been reporting more problems with Mint’s account syncing feature over the past year.

 YNAB  Budget App

Another popular budgeting app is You Need a Budget, or YNAB. This app is actually quite different from Mint and EveryDollar because it focuses more on budgeting into the future instead of analyzing the past and present. The YNAB program is based on living off last month’s income, encouraging you not to spend the income you’ve earned until 30 days later once you’ve built up a savings buffer. YNAB is $50 per year and if you are a data lover, this may not be the best option for you, as it doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis and trend data for your spending.

Who Will Benefit Most

Overall, EveryDollar has a very user-friendly interface that should make it easy for budgeting beginners to get the hang of creating and sticking to their first zero based budget. It’s also a good option to consider if you are on-the-go and want to refer back to your budget before making a purchase that could make or break your category for the month.

EveryDollar is a budgeting app that will likely be very popular due to it’s association with popular personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey.

That said, it might be hard to convince people to switch to EveryDollar since there are other budgeting apps, like Mint, that allow users to connect their bank accounts and sync transactions for free.