Apps that can help even the lousiest saver save for retirement

The key to retirement savings is to start -that means apps that move even a small amount of money into savings can be helpful for people with budgets stretched to the squeaking point.

The first iPhone ads used to feature the slogan, “there’s an app for that.” It seems like the same can be said for almost any reason an employee could give for not participating in a 401(k) or other retirement plan. The top reasons most folks give for failing to contribute to retirement savings are lack of time (to manage, analyze, or set up the plans) or inability to find a spare amount to set aside for savings. As the slogan goes, there’s an app for that! The key to retirement savings is to start, and for some people that might mean starting even with just a meager amount. That means apps that move even a small amount of money into savings for those whose budgets are stretched thin could be the difference between starting a retirement plan and putting it off for another few years. And even a little bit of savings can become something helpful over time, thanks to compound interest. With the idea that for those who think they might not have anything to save (and might also be short on time), here are a few apps that can help even the lousiest saver save for retirement.

For those who really may be stretching to save anything for retirement, apps like Digit may be the most helpful. Digit makes small automatic transfer from the user’s bank account each month into a retirement account. Digit can also send texts to users with balance information for checking and savings.  Mint, another app focused on the basics, helps users avoid losing money on late fees and penalties by reminding users of payment dates. It can also help users budget better. If users just need a budget app, one of the top rated (and with the heaviest word of mouth) is You Need a Budget. That app literally assigns incoming revenue and cash to specific recurring debts (i.e., dog sitting money gets assigned to Friday night pizza with friends) so that users are trained to give their money a job, and do less guessing. YNAB also works with Alexa and the Apple watch.

Other apps that stress savings basics include Clarity Money. That app, like Trim, can help identify recurring subscriptions that a user may have forgotten about and both apps can help negotiate monthly bills, like utilities.  Qapital, another savings app, adds goal-setting and education to it’s app.  Unlike Trim and Clarity though, it rounds uneven transaction amounts up to the nearest dollar (so $1.56 for milk gets rounded to $2.00 and the $0.54 goes into retirement savings). The difference between the original and rounded up amount is then transferred to a savings account. Similar to Qapital, 6Acorns rounds up amounts from both debit and credit cards, but deposits directly into a retirement account on its platform’s exchange traded funds.

Along the same lines, Stash allows small amounts to be deducted from a user’s account and invested in stocks or EFTs through Stash’s investment platform. Stash also provides articles and other insight to help user’s stay on track and get the most from their savings. Stash allows users to start saving for retirement with as little as $5.

Other apps, like NerdWallet (like the website) survey a user’s key metrics (age, income, savings) and provides suggestion on how much each user needs to save to be comfortable in retirement. It also provides suggestions for how to catch up on retirement if a user has fallen behind.

Most people know that using social security won’t be sufficient as a method to save for retirement alone, but for some, it can enhance saving efforts. The Social Security Planner app asks set questions and uses calculations to help users determine when to start claiming social security benefits.

Whether employees are struggling to learn budgeting, remember to pay bills on time or need an easy to manage method for investing small amounts, apps can help employees overcome the roadblocks they may have to setting aside funds for retirement.

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