According to the Center for Financial Innovation, 54% of Americans aged 18-25 say that they are spending amounts equal to or greater than their current income. For the general population, that number is 48%. 57% of all Americans struggle financially, whether with irregular income, haphazard savings habits, and the high amounts of debt that come as a result.

Too many people wait until the end of the month to think about saving up “what’s left over.” The problem is that if you don’t pay enough attention to your spending habits, you’ll be left with your hands empty at the end of a month.

Contrary to popular belief, income alone doesn’t make you rich. It’s all in how you spend. If you never break the same unhealthy spending habits, you’re never going to see results. Passively riding off the bad habits you built last week, last month, even last year means that you’ll never move on from living paycheck to paycheck.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a financial expert or even super savvy to figure it out. The real key lies in getting started now. No matter how small you start, changing “spending habits” into “savings habits” triggers a snowball reaction. Small savings turn big, and the next thing you know you’ve improved your present and your future for the better in one fell swoop.

This is the point where most financial blogs and authors might begin talking about budgets for spending or saving. Although budgets can be a great way to begin if you can keep them up, they’re mostly boring, becoming habits that are easy to break but hard to continue. Since we’re in a day and age where everyone’s on their smartphones, I’ve compiled some great apps that are a fun jump start in helping you with budgeting, spending, and saving.

  1. Mint: An oldie but a goodie, Mint allows you to see exactly where your money’s going by linking to your bank and credit cards. It tracks your spending on everything from groceries to housing, and will recommend a budget based on your spending habits by setting limits for expenditures. It’ll even give you a helping hand in accomplishing that, sending you warnings when you’re close to reaching a maximum. When you have bill payments or almost-empty bank accounts, Mint will also let you know.
  2. Level Money: This Capital One app shows exactly how much you should spend daily, weekly, and monthly on major expenditures like rent, utilities, and savings. You’ll receive a personal spending guide that teaches what you can spend to stay on track for both spendings and savings. Level Money also has over a million users, so if you’re looking for something reliable and credible, look no further.
  3. Qapital: This is a go-to app if you’re looking to make saving up for things you really want easy and fun. It analyzes your spending to trigger transfers of micro-savings into your FDIC insured savings. You can set goals, and Qapital will show you how to achieve them painlessly, with savings amounts so small you’ll barely notice anything until you start hitting milestone after milestone. I’m honestly a little jealous we didn’t have something this quick and easy around when I was young, but then again, there weren’t exactly cellphones around 40 years ago.
  4. Dobat: This is another financial savings app that analyzes your spending, then automates a “safe savings amount” to your FDIC insured savings based on your established goals. You can turn off the automatic savings to withdraw your savings at any time. (Needless to say, don’t do it lightly.)

If you use the referral links above when signing up for Qapital and/or Dobot, you’ll receive a free $5 per app to jump start your savings!

If you’re interested in learning more about saving, check out my article about 40 ways to stop wasting money on services you don’t need.