Socking away savings is painless – and maybe even fun – with these online apps.

3 minute read

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If there’s one painful lesson learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s that we should have taken the advice of personal finance experts to have enough emergency savings to cover five or six months’ worth of expenses more seriously.

Due to the pandemic, financial worst-case scenarios – unemployment, reduced income and/or unexpected medical bills, for example – that call for an emergency savings safety net are more likely than ever. And car repairs and other emergencies happen all the time, pandemic or not.

If you have no emergency savings or only enough to last a month or two if you lose your job, don’t be intimidated by that lofty goal of saving enough to cover six months’ worth of living expenses. You won’t get there right away, but if you’re focused on that goal, you can attain it eventually. And mobile savings apps can help you get there.

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1. Digit

Want to save money without giving your method a whole lot of thought? Once you set a savings goal with Digit, the savings app uses algorithms to track and learn your spending habits, including upcoming bills and expected purchases.

Then the app tells you “how much it’s safe to spend today” and automatically transfers that amount from your checking account to your FDIC-insured Digit account. You can sign up for Digit on its website or download the Digit app for your iPhone or Android device. Digit is free for 30 days and then only $5 a month.

2. Twine

Are you and your significant other building a household emergency savings together but prefer to keep bank accounts separate? Consider downloading Twine, the savings and investing app where you can invite a partner to save with you toward shared goals.

Simply link your bank accounts to the app and set up regular deposits to build emergency savings. If you’re saving in cash for goals, this app is free. For goals in invested accounts, the fee is nominal, based on the account balance.

Twine, which is operated and maintained by John Hancock Personal Financial Services, doesn’t yet have an Android app, but iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch users can download the Twine app from the Apple App Store. You can also sign up on the Twine site.

3. Mint

With any savings goal, you need to factor in spending and recurring expenses to estimate how much to designate toward the amount you want to save. Mint is a budgeting app that links to your bank accounts so you can see bank account balances, bills and debit and credit card spending all in one place.

The free version of the Mint app automatically updates and categorizes the information, including how much you owe on credit cards and loans. You can’t use Mint to transfer money between accounts, but you may be able to save more towards emergency savings with this app’s laser-beam focus on spending habits and expenses.

Download the Mint app to your mobile device from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

4. Qapital

Want to inject a dose of behavioral psychology into your emergency savings goals? Saving and investing app Qapital lets users set up personal savings and money management goals while offering tips and tools to maximize your happiness while achieving them.

With Qapital, you can set up personalized rules for saving such as “If This Then That” (IFTT) rules to save automatically when you accomplish things like reaching a Fitbit step goal. Other rules to help you develop saving habits include the “52 Week Rule,” which you can set to save the amount correlated to the week of the year.

With this rule, you automatically save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $20 on the 20th week, and so on, ending with a $52 deposit on week 52. After a year, you’ve saved $1378 toward emergency savings. Qapital subscription plans range from $3 to $12 per month, and it’s easy to create an account on the Qapital site or download the Qapital app for iPhone or Android devices.

5. Long Game

If you want to have fun saving for an emergency fund, you can set up savings goals and automatic deposits with Long Game. This app rewards you with “coins,” an in-app crypto currency based on your savings and spending that you can apply towards no-risk games of chance with potential cash and crypto prizes each time you play a game or make a deposit.

The Long Game app also comes with a Visa debit card that you can set to “round up” each purchase to the nearest dollar, with the difference going into your account “savings jar.”

The Long Game app, which you can download from the Long Game site, has a 30-day free trial, and after that expires, you pay $3 a month. However, if you meet certain direct deposit and other requirements, there is no monthly fee.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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