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Updated on Thursday, August 6, 2015
For most teenagers, heading off to college is the first time they’re fully out on their own. It’s also the first time they’ll be responsible for managing their own money. It can get tricky to juggle classes, extracurricular activities, and maybe even some part-time work or internships. When you throw financial responsibility on top of that, things can start slipping through the cracks.
Thankfully, today’s undergrads can catch a break with the wealth of apps out there that are designed to help them do more with their money. Here are 5 money apps every college student should have.
No list of money apps can really get started without first addressing the fact that Mint is the tool to help college students (and everyone else) better track and evaluate their finances. Mint is especially useful for students because they’re just now learning how to manage money and multiple bank accounts.
Mint makes it easy to track spending and financial goals, and will even make suggestions on how to alter current behaviors to meet goals faster. The app provides real time information and graphs to help students visualize how they’re using their money — and what they’re using it on.
Some college students may have a little extra money to spare each month, but could lack the awareness, habit, and discipline it takes to actually transfer cash into savings. Digit makes savings easy by moving the money for you.
It’s a free service that has users connect a bank account to the app, which then analyzes deposits and withdrawals in that account. Based off the information, Digit will find “small amounts of money it can safely set aside.”
Every 2 to 3 days, Digit will transfer anywhere from $5 to $50 into a Digit account. According to their website, the app will never transfer more than a user can afford (again, that transfer amount is based off the activity in your account). It also states it will cover an overdraft fee if a Digit transaction causes you to overdraft. When you’re ready to access what Digit saved on your behalf, send them a text and they’ll transfer the money back to your bank account on the next business day.
We recommend cashing out your Digit money into an actual savings account each month because Digit offers 0% interest and you should be tucking your savings away in an account earning at least 0.99% like Ally or 1.25% like My Savings Direct.
When you’re a broke college student, a thriving social life full of pricey experiences, evenings out, and fun things to buy should not be on the top of your priority list. But that doesn’t mean enjoying local events and things to do should be completely out of the question, either.
Students can use Scoutmob to help budget in the fun stuff. The app offers two different options: access to unique items to buy, or deals from local small businesses. Either way, it promises to save users money on the things they want to purchase.
The team behind the app works directly with local business owners and independent makers to give users “exclusive deals, crafted goods, and curated experiences.”
Alternatively, students can check out LivingSocial for a similar experience: deals on local events and businesses in their cities and coupons or discounts on gifts and items for sale.
College students can easily exchange money with their friends by downloading PayPal’s mobile app. This makes it fast and simple to split restaurant tabs, pay someone back for tickets to the game, or get paid for odd jobs during the summer.
Admittedly, this one’s a bit of a stretch. While not technically a money app, it can help college students save and make money. Close5 is an app that’s on a mission to make buying and selling items simple and safe.
After downloading the app, students can list items by taking pictures on their phone and adding in a description and price. Once an offer is made or accepted on a listed item, users can privately message each other through the app to coordinate and complete the sale.
Students can also browse through listings that other users have posted to find great deals on furniture for their dorms or apartments.
In addition to these apps, students might want to download apps that are specific to their bank or institution where they hold credit cards so financial information is easily accessible anywhere, anytime. By using these tools, they’ll build good habits around managing their money — and simply being aware of their personal financial situations.