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Finance Apps and Tricks to Automate and Maximize Your Savings

The end of the year is quickly approaching, which means we’re in both the season of over-spending on holiday gifts and the pre-season for 2020 New Year’s resolutions. But that doesn’t mean you should just throw your savings goals out the window for 2019 and resolve to do better next year.

These apps and finance tricks will help you better automate your savings and find better deals for holiday shopping to help you close out your financial goals for 2019.

1. Install web extensions for online shopping discounts

Instead of Googling coupon codes every time you buy something online, install browser extensions like Honey and Wikibuy, which automatically try a heap of savings codes they’ve pulled from the web in order to help you get the biggest discount possible and save money.

2. Automatic savings apps

There are scores of free and low-cost savings apps that will make direct deposits to piggy bank-style savings accounts based on purchases you make and/or rules you set up—and they all cater to different interests and lifestyles. Mobile apps like Albert and Digit analyze your spending habits and automatically saves an amount it believes you can afford. And Twine is geared toward couples trying to save toward shared goals. 

Do you have the Earnest mobile app?

3. Save faster with apps that start investing for you

A few cents here and there adds up even faster when you’re investing that spare change. 

Apps like Acorns and Stash connect with your bank account and give you the options to transfer a set amount of money weekly and/or round up all of your purchases to the next dollar and invest the change.

There are two main differences between Acorns and Stash—Acorns (which costs $1 to $3 per month) invests for you in a portfolio with a risk level you choose and is connected with a wide variety of online shopping opportunities that will kick extra cashback to you. For example, you might get a $5 bonus for signing up for a trial of a streaming service. Stash, on the other hand, allows you to automatically purchase small portions of shares in specific stocks and funds of your choosing. You could set up your Stash account to automatically invest $5 a week each in, say, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, and Facebook, instead of having to manually buy a full share of each. Stash and Acorns both also offer separate IRA savings programs, to allow you to automatically save for retirement with round-ups or set amounts to deposit each week or month. 

4. Let bots search your inbox for possible refunds

If you shop online regularly or fly frequently for work, your inbox might be hiding some extra cash. Paribus trolls your email for shopping receipts and can automatically request money-saving refunds on your behalf if a price drops within a certain period of time. Service offers a similar feature for flights and hotel reservations. If you’ve been delayed or a flight is canceled on you, Service can automatically request a refund (usually in the form of frequent flier miles or a travel voucher) on your behalf. And if their bots notice a price drop in an upcoming hotel reservation you’ve made, they can rebook you at the lower price. Service charges your credit card for 30 percent of the cash value they save you unless you sign up for their annual subscription plan, which costs $49 per year.

Read more: 5 Apps to Help You Save More Money This Year

5. Make unique savings rules with IFTTT

The IFTTT app, which stands for “If This, Then That,” allows you to set up rules between a whole host of apps to automatically do this when that happens. Right now one of the few money apps that work well with IFTTT is Qapital, which charges $3 to $12/month to set up a whole host of unique rules to save toward goals, like whenever you walk a certain number of steps or buy a coffee at Starbucks. But if you need an app to force you to save and are willing to pay for that kind of tool, the possibilities are nearly endless. For example, you can use IFTTT to automatically save, say, $5 to a Qapital savings goal when you complete an activity on the fitness app Strava, or to put aside $1 every time the President tweets, or to save $10 every time you tap a button on your phone’s home screen.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.