Incoming college students will learn a lot in their first year – one of the most important and
challenging skills they must learn is how to manage their money. Between keeping up grades,
finding job opportunities, and one’s social life, personal finance can be quickly pushed aside.
Luckily, smartphones make managing one’s money all the easier. Here are some free finance
apps all first-year college students should consider to keep their budget on track.
Mint: Personal Finance and Money
Mint holds your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and investments all in one organized and
effortless place. You can create an unlimited number of budgets, titled as specific as you like
such as food, rent, coffee, or other college student necessities. Your spending and account
balances are updated automatically. Mint also displays your spending in pie charts or bar
graphs for a quick snapshot of your financial health. For first time credit card users, Mint
ensures you’ll never charge what you can’t pay back and offers free credit score monitoring.
Convenient notifications will also remind you when to pay your bills and when you’ve exceeded
Clarity Money: Budget Tools
Clarity is similar to Mint in bringing together your spending, saving, bills, and debt all in one
place. However, Clarity also acts as a “budget trainer.” Clarity links to your financial accounts
and provides automated insights based on your spending habits. With Clarity you can create
personal budget tabs, organize your bills and expenses, and monitor your credit score. You can
also set savings goals to help grow your money. For example, you can aim to save $50 every
Monday for a new car, and Clarity will track your progress. Another unique feature of Clarity is
monitoring unnecessary subscriptions such as Spotify or Netflix. Clarity keeps all your
subscriptions in one tab and allows you to cancel them at any time. Clarity also analyzes your
monthly spending tendencies by keeping track of your most frequent stores and purchases. The
goal of this feature is to teach you to make smart decisions about your money by understanding
PocketGuard: Money & Budgeting
PocketGuard also easily syncs all your personal finance accounts such as bank accounts, credit
cards, loans, and savings, all in one place. PocketGuard will build your budget automatically
based on your spending and earning patterns. Once your bills and savings are planned for,
PocketGuard lets you know how much you can safely spend using its “Can I Buy it?” feature.
Another unique PocketGuard feature is lowering your bills. Once all your bills are accounted for,
PocketGuard provides a full list of services you could pay less for. Other PocketGuard features
include a comparison of your current month’s spending to your average spending and your “net
income,” which lets you know if you’re going to save or overspend that month.
Unlike the other apps, Venmo does not keep track of your spending and saving. However, it
does keep track of what you owe and who owes you. Venmo is necessary for managing money
between friends and evenly splitting payments. Whether it’s for dinner, rent, or utilities, one
designated person pays the bill and everyone else pays exactly their share via the Venmo app.
Venmo is linked directly to your accounts allowing you to make payments using your debit card,
credit card, bank account, and more. When you’re on the receiving end of the funds, you can
transfer the money to your bank account with the click of a button. You can also use Venmo to
shop at millions of mobile and online retailers.