There’s an app for pretty much everything these days. Apps that capture the audio and video feed from baby monitors. Apps that help you find the cheapest gas. Even apps that help you track your workouts. Basically, if a human does it, there’s an app associated with it.
That includes personal finances, where apps have been created that can help you track your spending, your savings and even your debt. Just like apps in other categories though, some are great and others are, well, meh. And like any tool, apps are only helpful if you use them. That running app isn’t going to help you stay in shape if you don’t actually run, for example. And that app aimed at helping you pay down your debt isn’t going to get you in better financial shape if you don’t actually make the payments. Or if you keep racking up new debt. You get the picture.
So, with all this in mind, is a debt management app really helpful? The answer is, it depends. Mostly it depends on you. Here’s why.
Success With Apps Depends On You
Everyone is different. Just as certain fitness routines work for some people and not for others (for example: I hate group exercise classes. Nope, nope, nope.), certain budgeting and debt management approaches work for some folks and not for others.
Do you love to sit down with a cup of tea and look over all your bills, your bank statements and adjust your monthly budget using pen and paper? An app may not be right for you.
Do you instead prefer spreadsheets and tracking every single penny all in one location? Again, an app may not be right for you.
Apps Can Save You Time & Money
If, however, a pedantic approach like those above leaves you yawning, you may want to consider some personal finance apps, especially if you like to see your progress at the press of a button. They can offer new insights into paying down debt faster, thus saving you money by reducing the amount of interest you end up paying. From paying down your credit card debt or your student loan debt, to increasing your savings and even automating your monthly bill payments, apps can be an efficient way for people who hate thinking about money to be better at doing just that.
Now for the hard part: Choosing an app that works best for you and your financial needs.
There are a lot of apps out there and not all are created equal, so it’s a good idea to do a lot of research. That includes reading user reviews, expert reviews, comparing free and paid apps, and even downloading apps to see if you like the interface before fully committing by linking your financial information. Do you have any friends who love their app? It can’t hurt to ask around a bit.
Stick With the Fundamentals, Always
As we pointed out earlier, apps aren’t magic. They’re only as effective as you are, so once you find the app or apps right for you, it’s important to maintain (or start) responsible financial behavior. That means creating and maintaining a monthly budget, keeping your spending at a reasonable level, maximizing your earnings, making regular contributions to your emergency fund and retirement savings, and paying down any debt you may have as quickly as possible (here’s a great explainer on effective ways to pay down your debt).
Regardless of how you manage your money and track your progress of paying down debt and building up savings — be it an app or multiple apps, pen and paper or a massive spreadsheet — your success will depend on your ability to stick to the fundamentals above. Any app that helps you do that is one worth considering.
[Editorial Disclosure: PayDownMyDebt.com is a service that provides people with tools to pay down their debts through automatic payments. The purpose of this article, however, is not to encourage users to purchase that service. This article is educational and journalistic in nature and aims to help people learn how to pay down their debt, whether they use our site, another, or go it alone.]