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Updated on Friday, October 11, 2019
Saving money doesn’t always come naturally, even though it’s one of the best ways to stabilize your finances and live the lifestyle you want without going into debt. Apps like Tip Yourself exist to help you become a better saver.
Founded in 2015, Tip Yourself is a savings platform that allows you to reward yourself for everyday achievements by transferring money into a “Tip Jar” that serves as a savings account. It’s a clever and low-pressure way to save money and incentivize healthy, productive behaviors.
It is not the most robust or sophisticated savings tool, but it’s a great way to develop a savings mindset and consistently put money toward your goals. However, you will not earn interest on your Tip Jars, so it’s not a good long-term savings tool.
What is Tip Yourself?
Tip Yourself is a money-saving app that lets you reward yourself throughout the day when you accomplish tasks or achieve small goals. Ideally, you’ll get in the habit of saving by making incremental, consistent changes to how you manage your money. Every time you knock a loathsome task off your to-do list, you can double the dopamine hit by transferring money into your Tip Jar. You feel accomplished and save money, reinforcing two good behaviors.
A basic account is free and allows you to create up to two Tip Jars to save for different purposes. Tip Yourself Pro is the premium version, and it allows you to set up 10 jars. Those include an Automated Tip Jar and one dedicated to a savings challenge, as well as a Hidden Tip Jar to help curb spending impulses. The company earns money on Pro subscriptions and on interest accrued in users’ Tip Jars.
Your Tip Jar is linked to your checking account and is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to the legal limit through Tip Yourself’s partner, nbkc bank, which holds the funds in your Tip Jar. The accounts are secured with 256-bit SSL encryption — the same protocol that’s used by banks. Once you link a checking account, you can only withdraw to that account.
Pros of the Tip Yourself app
It’s a low-cost service. You can sign up for free, and the app doesn’t charge transaction or service fees, so you never lose money on your tips. The minimum tip is $1, so there’s no reason not to save. Even Tip Yourself Pro (more below) can be affordable at $9.99 a year.
You can build good habits. By rewarding yourself for personal and professional victories, you develop a saving habit and motivate yourself to continue working toward non-financial goals as well.
It’s easy to use. The sign-up process is simple and quick, and you can familiarize yourself with the app in just a few minutes. The simplicity of the app and its features keeps the focus on saving and makes it easy to get into a routine of tipping yourself.
You can always withdraw funds. You don’t have to wait until you’ve accrued a certain amount of savings to dip into your cash. As soon as the money hits your account, you can initiate a withdrawal. There are no minimum or maximum withdrawal amounts, and you can make as many transfers as you want.
Follow inspirational posts on the social feed. The beauty of this app is that you’re rewarding yourself for good behaviors — and so is everyone else on the app. Your social feed is populated with other people sharing their life wins, such as going back to school, making time to exercise and taking care of long-overdue chores. You can also follow particular members to curate your feed. If you don’t want to share all the tips you give yourself, you can set those transactions to private, and they’ll only be visible to you.
Cons of the Tip Yourself app
Tips take several days to clear. Tip Yourself uses Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers to move money from your bank account to your Tip Jar, a process that takes about three days to complete.
You don’t earn interest. The Tip Jar is a great place for holding money, but not for earning it. You won’t accrue any interest, no matter how long you leave the money in the account.
The social feed can be distracting. While seeing other people’s money wins can be a great motivator, having yet another social feed to scroll through can feel like a time-suck. The app defaults to showing your feed when you log in, so it’s difficult to avoid. But it’s easy to navigate to the other features, so it may not be a deal-breaker.
There’s a limit to how much you can tip. Tips are capped at $250, so if you wanted to give yourself a bonus for a job well-done, you’ll need to do so through another account. Still, the app seems to work best for small wins, so the tip cap doesn’t lessen the account’s value too much.
It’s difficult to get in touch with the company. Although Tip Yourself has an email contact button on every page, this MagnifyMoney writer reached out and did not receive a response. Two phone calls to the company’s number, which isn’t intuitive to find, went unanswered and messages were not returned. Tip Yourself’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts also seem to be updated infrequently.
How to open a Tip Yourself account
You can only sign up for an account through the app, so your first step is to download it from either Google Play or the App Store. Then you’ll need to create an account, which takes less than a minute. If you want to keep it really simple, you can sign up using your Facebook account, or you can create new credentials for Tip Yourself. In the latter case, you’ll just need to input your name, email address and a password.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll be prompted to link your checking account to the app. You don’t have to link accounts right away if you just want to browse the app’s features, but you’ll need to add a checking account to fund your Tip Jar. It’s best to link the account as soon as possible, because the app initiates two micro-deposits to verify your checking account, and it can take a few days for those to clear. After verification is complete, you can start tipping yourself. You’ll need your checking account to be linked and verified before you can add new Tip Jars, as well.
All users can set up a Standard Tip Jar and designate what they’re saving for and how much they want to save. Tip Yourself provides Quicktip Savings Buttons in the app, in the amounts of $2, $5 and $10, so you can easily reward yourself when you feel you deserve it. Or, you can set a higher amount if you want to kick your savings into high gear.
If you want to close a Tip Jar, perhaps because you reached your goal and no longer need it, you’ll need to move any remaining balance to another Tip Jar. You’re required to have at least one Tip Jar open at all times.
If you opt for a Pro account, you’ll be able to set up special Tip Jars, such as the Hidden Tip Jar and the Savings Challenge jar. The Savings Challenge encourages you to save $1,378 throughout the course of a year by setting up weekly tip transfers that increase incrementally. In Week 1, you tip yourself $1. In Week 2, you tip $2. In Week 3, your amount is $3 — and so on. It’s a neat way to save and to overcome the idea that you need to make massive transfers to build savings.
With the Hidden Tip Jar, you set a savings goal and tip yourself as usual, but you won’t see your balance until you’ve hit your goal. The logic is that not being able to see what you have will reduce your urge to spend before you’ve hit your savings target.
Pro users can also set up an Automated Tip Jar, which allows you to add set-and-forget tips to that account and have them transfer in on a weekly or monthly basis. If you opt for a monthly tip, you can choose whether it transfers at the beginning, middle or end of the month, so you can plan around your pay schedule. Or, you can schedule a weekly tip for yourself on the day of your choosing.
How much does Tip Yourself cost?
A basic account is free and includes two Tip Jars. Upgrading to Tip Yourself Pro will cost $9.99 a year and gives you access to 10 Tip Jars.
If you just want to build the habit of saving money generally, you’ll be fine with a free account. But if you’re the type of person who likes to create multiple funds for specific purposes, you’ll want to upgrade to the Pro option.
How Tip Yourself stacks up to the competition
You might be wondering why you’d download the app, much less pay for it, when you may be able to create multiple savings accounts with your bank.
As noted above, your Tip Jar isn’t a long-term savings account. It’s a temporary place to stash your money while you save toward specific goals. Psychologically, setting aside small amounts of money feels more doable than trying to build up your bank account.
The fact that you can reward yourself for other positive behaviors, such as going to the gym, eating healthy or finishing an assignment before your deadline, reinforces good habits in different areas of your life through small, sustainable wins.
However, Tip Yourself does seem less robust a service than, say, Digit. Also a money-saving app, Digit offers automated savings, in which the platform assesses your finances every day and transfers money into your savings accounts based on what you can afford to spare. Like Tip Yourself, Digit offers unlimited withdrawals, but it also provides overdraft protection and a 1% savings bonus after you’ve used the app to save for three consecutive months.
Digit also allows you to set however many savings goals you choose, whereas Tip Yourself limits basic users to two Tip Jars and Pro users to 10. At $5 a month, Digit is costlier than Tip Yourself, but the extra expense may be worth it for the broader range of features.
As far as app usability, the two platforms are pretty much tied. Tip Yourself’s app is rated 4.7 in the App Store and 4.4 on Google Play. Digit’s App Store ranking is also 4.7, while its Android rating is nearly on par at 4.3.