The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking + saving money in a new city


If you’re living in a new city, you might be having trouble sticking to your budget. Signing the lease on a new apartment – especially if you’re not living with roommates – can be a real financial strain, on top of all the normal costs of settling in. To help ease the transition, we’ve collected the 5 best free budgeting apps. They’ll help you get a feel for spending money in the city, so the pinch isn’t quite so bad. Here are our 5 favorite apps for tracking and saving your cash:

1. Charlie

Charlie uses an AI penguin that you can interact with when you have questions about your finances. With a simple text, you can ask Charlie to give you your account balances or ask for help saving money for a particular purchase. Even when you’re not actively using it, Charlie will help you find ways to save money by looking at cheaper alternatives to your spending. If Charlie thinks you can pay less for the internet, it will alert you to your options. Because Charlie is entirely text-based, there’s no need to download an app. So if you’re trying to keep storage space on your phone, Charlie is a good option.

2. Pocketguard

Pocketguard can quickly answer your most pressing question when you’re out and about: how much can you spend right now? Once you set up your account and sync it with your bank, it will let you know how much money you have left after bills and standing subscriptions. This is displayed on the overview screen as soon as you open the app, so you don’t have to worry about reading any math or charts when you’re on the town. If you don’t mind spending time on your budget at home, this is a quick way to see an overview while you’re out and about. 


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3. Trim

If you need help cutting back on spending, give Trim a try. In many ways, it’s similar to Charlie—both are AI bots that aim to improve your financial health, and both interact with you via text. The major difference is Charlie is always free, but Trim charges you a percentage of the savings it helps you make. But because of that, they are more aggressive about negotiating bills for you and getting you credits when there are service outages from any of your providers. This means if you didn’t have internet for a couple of hours, you will see credits to your account, even if you weren’t home to notice. They can also negotiate the APR on your credit cards down, which means getting out of debt will be easier.

4. Wally 

Wally is a personal finance app that aims to give you a 360° view of your finances. If charts and graphs are the best way to help you visualize your spending, Wally is the app for you. By manually tracking your daily spending, you get a much more accurate representation of your spending habits than Charlie or Trim. While those apps can see where you spend your money, they are only guessing at what you spend your money on based on the store. You can use Wally to take an active part in your finances by setting savings goals and assessing where you spend the most money, so you know how to balance your budget better.

5. Acorns

Acorns isn’t a budgeting app in the same vein as these others. Instead, it focuses on helping you save money with the same mindset as using a piggy bank. Every time you spend money on your card, Acorns will round up to the nearest dollar and invest the change into stocks. And it’s totally free for college students, so it’s a great way to get a head start while you’re still in school. Acorns gives you access to stock investments without having to buy full shares. This gives you the opportunity to increase your money’s worth at a much faster rate than a savings account. The app lets you control the types of investments you make, too, so you can decide how much you’re willing to risk in return for greater rewards potential. 

Other resources

Eventbrite is a great resource for finding fun things to do in your new city. You can easily browse free events and filter by category to decide what kind of fun you want to have on your evening out, even if you don’t have any money to spend. Venmo takes the hassle out of sharing money with your friends. If your friend buys you a movie or concert ticket, you don’t have to stop by the ATM before you meet up. And if you’re in a hurry to tab out at dinner before the movie, one of you can pick up the check, and the rest can pay them back on the way to your venue. Sometimes, all you need to have fun is the right company. When you live with Common, you connect with other members and use our common areas to host a gathering or meet up with someone for a night out. Getting to know new people in the city is a lot easier when it’s easy to connect with your neighbors.

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