Remember the inconvenience of having to balance your checkbook before you could go out Friday night, just to make sure you had enough money to last the weekend?
These days, most people keep their banks in their pockets — and if anyone’s using a checkbook, it’s your mom.
Now that virtually every millennial has access to a smartphone, peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps — more commonly known as “cash apps” — and finance apps have revolutionized the way we pay.
In 2015, when cash apps were shiny, new and on the rise, Business Insider predicted that mobile P2P transaction volumes could reach $86 billion by 2018.
At the end of last year, Forbes reported millennials, specifically, were three times more likely to use such apps over baby boomers.
With financial stresses like tuition, student aid and loans, housing costs and general expenses, there’s a hefty cloud of financial burden looming over us at all times. These apps seemed to be the tech world’s answer to millennials’ pressing concerns, offering personalized money management right at our fingertips.
But it’s more than just personal finance.
Peer-to-peer apps are ideal for sending money, receiving money and splitting money between friends, especially since few people carry cash these days.
Film and video production major Jessica Rigsby said apps like Venmo came in clutch when she spent winter break in California.
“When you go out to eat or something, a lot of restaurants wouldn’t let you split bills,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about, like, ‘Oh, sorry. We’re on three separate tabs.”
She said it was much easier than having to withdraw cash, and she’s also seen someone pay a utility bill by sending a Venmo with “a fire emoji, an electric plug emoji and a water emoji.”
However, there’s still a lot of stigma (mostly from our parents) around using a smartphone to manage money. Is it smart? Is it safe? Is it enough?
If used properly and regularly, finance apps make it easy for us to not only keep track of what we’re spending, but also where, how often and on what. Not to mention many apps offer automatic savings plans and coaching to help build wealth over time.
All you have to do is know where to start. To help whittle down any confusion, here are the best cash and finance apps for millennials.
Mint is the holy grail of finance apps. It allows you to balance, track spending, make personalized budgets (like one for Chipotle, and one for late-night Cook-Out milkshake runs), manage bills, beef up your credit score and more all in one place. The design makes it really easy to understand how you’re spending your money and where it’s going. Sync it with your bank account, and you’ve got your own personal finance coach free of charge.
Best for: Managing and saving money
While you’ve probably heard this word used as a verb most recently, such as “Don’t worry about it, just venmo me later,” Venmo is a noun. It’s an app that allows you to make and share payments with multiple people at one time — but only friends. It is not suggested for use with anyone you don’t personally know. It’s perfect for those times when you spot your friend for those concert tickets that are selling fast, or for when you don’t want to hassle the waitress with the task of splitting that large pizza seven ways. The best part is that this app uses iMessage so you can send your money with a fun little note and keep track of yours and your friends’ payments.
Best for: Paying money
Cost: Free except for credit cards or non-major debit cards, which carry a fee.
This app is similar to Venmo in that it’s primarily used to send payments to people you know, but this one uses email as well. It still works with iMessage; friends can send the money they owe via text. You’ll be prompted to enter in your bank account info in order to receive the payment within the next business day. This app boasts that it’s compatible with Apple Watch, too.
Best for: Paying money
Cost: Free for any non-business transactions; the app takes a percentage of money received from strangers.
You might call PayPal the grandfather of cash apps as it’s pretty much been the standard for safe online payments and contributions for years. Today, it’s just as reliable with even more options. Not only can you request, send and receive money, but you can also keep track of any sites or vendors at which you’ve used PayPal: the pumpkin spice latte you bought at the campus Starbucks, an Uber ride in Nashville or your Netflix bill — it’s all there.
Best for: Paying and managing money
Cost: Free for any non-business transactions
Since many college students tend to rely on subscription services — Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, Hulu, etc. — Truebill is the perfect companion to stay on top of money that’s automatically withdrawn from your account. The main feed keeps track of charges chronologically and alerts you when you may be overpaying. With Truebill, you don’t have to be shocked anymore by that surprise Netflix charge that conveniently appears when you’re strapped for cash.
Best for: Managing and saving money
Your credit score may be the last thing on your mind while you’re in college, but it’s a number that’s more important than you might think. Credit Karma not only tells you what your score is, but also what it means and how it came to be that number. On top of that, the app provides insight on how to improve your score, as well as monitors and alerts you to any changes.
Best for: Managing money
Cost: Free to download
If taxes are still tricky and scary to you, TurboTax is a quick and painless way to file and manage your taxes. Take a quick snap of your tax forms, and just like that, you’re in business. As you’ve probably seen in their most recent commercials, one of which stars the legendary DJ Khaled, the app offers live video consultation and guidance. You don’t have to go it alone; this app will be there for you when Mom and Dad aren’t.
This story originally ran in MTSU Sidelines’ February 2017 print edition. Read the full edition here.
For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor at email@example.com