MSU Extension: Money management apps to help your finances

By Thomas Long

Michigan State University Extension

Many millennials who experienced the recession in 2008 have become more money conscious than we might think. Today, as these millennials enter the workforce and have large debts to deal with, they are thinking of creative ways to save money and spend less. And we can learn from them.

Millennials are finding unique ways of keeping within their budget, practicing good spending habits and developing personal finances for the future. In a recent U.S. News and World Report - Money article, Kimberly Palmer reviews “12 Millennial-Inspired Ways to Spend Less” and points out that this generation is comfortable using apps or their phone to make purchases and track their money. This a strategy you might try too.

First, identify what your needs and goals are and then select the app that best suits them. There are plenty of apps to choose from that can meet almost any need and many of these apps are free. If your goal is to save up for a vacation or a big ticket item, consider an app to help reach that goal.

We all could use some guidance and real-time information regarding money and finance. Prism Bills will help track your weekly, monthly and yearly bills that are due. This app reminds you to pay them on time, which can prevent late fees and keeps your money in the bank longer, thus earning more interest.

Apps might also be a good way for a teenager or young adult to get into the practice of saving money and planning for the future. For parents, this can allow a way to review with their children what they are earning and spending.

Moven is a budget app that tracks your spending and gives you up-to-the-minute information on what you have spent and what is remaining in your budget. It also tracks your spending habits over time and puts expenses into categories to show you where you spend your money, like entertainment, gas or dinning out. It then gives guidance on whether a purchase will fit into that budget category. This is beneficial in gaging where your money is spent and what areas you might cut back on or try to save.

A third app you might want to consider is Level Money. It is similar to Moven in that it tracks your spending in real-time and in categories, but you can also set goals for yourself. For example, if you wanted to take a trip or buy a new car, you can allocate a percentage of your income to go toward that goal and the app will identify what your discretionary income is for that month, week or even that purchase.

Do some research and find out what you want and try one or two. Tom’s Guide highlights the “10 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Apps” and is worth checking out before you make a choice. There may also be money management apps through your local bank. The key is to find out what is right, easy and convenient for you. The point is that you use the technology to help you become financially savvy.

Millennials grew up with technology. They don’t fear it; they embrace it and make it work for them. You can too. If you want to make smarter financial choices, working to become financially independent or need to get out from under debt, there is an app for that! Useful apps are only a button away; just tap into it!

For more information about money management and budgeting, check out Michigan State University Extension’s Youth Money Management page.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).