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Starter Apps for Investing

Working on a computer in the grass

Starter Apps for Investing

Are you curious about all the financial apps that are out there? We understand that there are many different options, and it can be downright confusing on what you should use and why. Budgeting apps, investment apps, stock apps…what does it all even mean? This is why we have compiled this list of our favorite apps. We will keep it short and sweet as to what they are, their pros and cons, and why we recommend them. Take a peek and see which ones apply to you, it may be one, or it may be three. Either way, we will help you choose the right apps for you!

Woman using investing apps

Note: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase a product or sign up for a company through one of our links, Thrive Oak will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

Budgeting

Mint:

What is it?

Are you looking to get your finances organized, tracked, and budgeted all in one place? Mint is a free budgeting app that does just this. Mint gathers all of your financial information from banks accounts to 401(k)s into one place for easy access.

The Positives:

Using Mint is an excellent way to track expenses and manage your budget, especially if you are new to the financial game. Since all of your information is located in one spot, it is simple to keep everything under control and not let something slip through the cracks. It has bill trackers, budgeting tools, credit score monitoring, and automatically categorizes your purchases.

The Negatives:

Mint can take a bit to set up, especially if you have a vast array of accounts or investment methods. Going beyond their budgeting feature to try and invest is not worthwhile (there are many better apps for that coming up), and their ability to sync transactions with 3rd party services can be unreliable. Also, they have limited customer support and annoying product marketing.  

Overall:

If you are looking to get a handle on tracking your finances, Mint is a fantastic app. The budgeting tools can help you cut costs and be aware of your spending habits. However, that is it. Anything beyond that can be done better by other apps. 

Personal Capital: 

What is it?

Looking for a financial planning service similar to Mint, but one step up? You should try Personal Capital. Personal Capital is one of the leading financial planning and investment apps on the market. They combine logical algorithms with human advisors to provide users with a way to strategize their financial future. 

The Positives:

Personal Capital is terrific in that it provides a free, in-depth management tool with dedicated financial advisors to keep you progressing in your investments. While Personal Capital has budget tracking that syncs all of your accounts in one place (like Mint), Personal Capital is focused on investment and net worth monitoring. It provides an excellent dashboard for you to view and analyze your long-term finances, including retirement investing.

The Negatives:

Personal Capital is only for those with significant money in the bank because you need at least a $100,000 account minimum to get started with their investing services. That cuts out a large portion of new investors. In addition, Personal Capital has high management fees, 0.89%, along with the occasional pop up add encouraging you to talk with one of their professionals. 

Overall: 

Personal Capital is spectacular at providing an overall dashboard of net worth. If you are a DIY investor who falls within the $100,000 to $200,000 range, this is an excellent app for investment and retirement tracking. It is a smooth product and is one step up from using Mint.

Quicken:

What is it?

If you are brand spanking new to the budgeting world, you may not have heard of Quicken. Let us catch you up. Quicken is the pioneer of financial software, with its first release in 1983. It is highly likely that your parents have used this tool, and you can too. Quicken is a robust service that helps users track, budget, and keep on top of their finances.

The Positives:

Quicken is getting close to its 40th anniversary, which explains why it has such a wide range of in-depth services that go beyond the apps such as Mint. Some services include bill tracking, debt reduction, budgeting (as far as annual budgeting), net worth tracking, and more. You can sync your accounts to Quicken, or you can easily do it manually if you have security concerns or like to do things by hand. In addition to that, Quicken is available as software, online, and mobile apps.

The Negatives:

The downsides to Quicken are that it not for the faint of heart. Quicken can be overwhelming with the sheer amount of content and services provided. Set-up and learning how to use the software can take a while, and it is not as pretty as other apps. Plus, Quicken is expensive. The cheapest plan is $34.99 a year, with more expensive plans available.

Overall:

Quicken is not for someone with one bank account and their first job, this software is designed for in-depth personal accounting. Those who should look into Quicken are those who are detail-oriented, have security concerns, or are business owners. 

Man using investment apps on his phone

Savings Accounts

Ally Bank:

What is it?

Ally Bank is not your traditional brick and mortar; instead, everything is online. This bank is a favorite among investors for its fantastic customer service and steady interest rates.

The Positives:

Ally Bank is known as a great place to have a savings account because of its competitive interest rates. On average, Ally’s savings account offers a 1.5% interest rate, which is much higher than the national average of .08%. In addition to that, they have no minimum balance, no monthly fees, an easy to use interface, and access to 43,000 free ATMs. 

The Negatives:

With Ally, you are only allowed six outbound transfers for free each month, after that you are charged an extra $10 for each transfer for the rest of the month. While Ally has quality 24/7 live customer service, if you want to talk face to face with someone, you are out of luck because there are no brick and mortar branches. By existing only on the web, they are able to significantly reduce costs and share those savings with their customers. With that said, it also means that you can’t deposit cash because there is no one to hand it to. 

Overall: 

Ally Bank is the ideal savings account, a perfect place to set an emergency fund and forget about it. Their interest rates are significantly better than large banks with brick and mortar locations and are ideal for busy individuals who want to do all of their banking online anyways.  

Coins adding up

Acorns:

What is it?

Do you hate spare change? Acorns has taken spare change to a whole new level by turning it into an investment app. Acorns rounds up linked credit or debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and puts that extra change into a Robo-managed investment portfolio that invests in broad index funds. 

The Positives:

Investing with Acorns is accessible for everyone since the minimum starting balance is just $5. It is simple to use and is the perfect way to get started if you struggle to save money. You would be surprised at how quickly the spare change can add up, making it ideal for those saving up for a big purchase or to give one confidence in their investing abilities.

The Negatives:

Investing with Acorns isn't free; there is a small fee. Acorns charges a $1.25 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. If you're trying desperately to save your pennies, this fee may seem like a lot. Once you get over $5,000, the fees rise. If you get to the point of saving tens of thousands of dollars, you will be better off investing elsewhere for long-term results.

Overall:

Acorns is wonderful for those who struggle to save their money. It pulls just a little bit away at a time so that you won't even notice. While it is a great starting point, it is not designed for long-term investment and saving thousands and thousands of dollars. We treat Acorns as a way to get your foot in the door.

Note: If you like the idea of Acorns, but want something a little bit different, there are two other similar companies called Stash and Clink that have similar features. 

Investing Research Tools

Morningstar:

What is it? 

Morningstar is the industry go-to for all in-depth investing research. Do you want to know how any and every fund has performed over the last ten years? Are you curious to know which companies and industries make up an ETF or Mutual Fund? Heck, Morningstar even has a ‘sustainability’ score for investment products for those that want to make Earth-friendly investment choices. Determining which funds are strong mixes of risk or reward, foreign or domestic, stocks or bonds, etc. has never been so simple. The website is THE industry leader for good reason. When you’re ready to dive into the data of your investments, it’s worth checking out.

The Positives:

Morningstar provides ratings on mutual funds and stocks, which are respected throughout the financial industry as being reliable and honest. These services are perfect for buy-and-hold investors looking for long-term benefits. As a customer, you receive detailed information on which investments are worthwhile as well as the tools to put your plans into action, such as budget worksheets, goal planning, and other features.

The Negatives:

Morningstar is not for those who are deep into technical charts, like when you should buy and sell throughout the year. In addition to that, Morningstar is not cheap. The annual fee is $199.00, which is a lot for new investors. It’s worth checking with your local library to see if a free Morningstar account is available with the digital tools packages that are often included with your library card. Many of our users have reported this is the case. 

Overall:

Morningstar is an excellent tool to learn about and analyze investment options. For those looking to do their own research and lead the way to their financial success, the app is well worth the price. However, if you are just getting started, we could recommend signing up for a free trial of Morningstar because it's THE BOMB at investment research.

Using Apps to Analyze Investments

Passive Market Investing

Wealthfront:

What is it?

Wealthfront is an investment service that offers financial advice mixed with automated investment management. Users are given a survey that helps to classify their risk tolerance, and then their money is dispersed over a variety of asset classes (a group of investments).

The Positives:

They provide several automated services that invest with stable returns and strategic tax minimization tactics. Their helpful planning tool and diversified portfolios make it easy for investors to pursue passive investment compared to other services that demand constant attention. Plus, Wealthfront has a variety of financial planning tools that are great for individuals looking to save up for a home, college, or even how to save for travel! 

The Negatives:

Unlike other investment companies, Wealthfront does not offer fractional shares. As well, Wealthfront charges a 0.25% management fee (a decent rate for managed funds, but not stellar), and it automatically maintains a cash balance that is equal to your projected fees, which can cause a slight drag in your financial success.

Overall:

Wealthfront is perfect for those looking to use their financial tools, invest in a variety of asset classes with little time investment, and want to take advantage of their tax minimization tactics.

Hands-on Market Investing

Robinhood:

What is it?

Robinhood is a free stock trading app where investors can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds, cryptocurrency, and other options. For a long time, it was the only app that did free trades, but now other companies have added that feature as well. 

The Positives:

Robinhood is easy to use for beginners. It has an intuitive web and mobile trading platform that is simple for even the newest user to understand. With its $0 trading fees, this company really helps newcomers save compared to other companies that have trading fees (those fees seriously add up after a while). They also have zero withdrawal or inactivity fees, as well as no account minimum. Plus, it is one of the few free stock trading apps that does cryptocurrency trading so far.

The Negatives:

Robinhood isn't a full-service app. They do not provide fractional shares, dividend reinvestment, research tools, or retirement accounts. Besides that, their customer service is pretty bleh. One other mishap they had recently was during the crash of March 2020, where their app entirely shut down. It is back up and running now, but many investors were not pleased with this at the time.

Overall:

Because of its zero-dollar trading fee structure, Robinhood is a fantastic place to get your feet wet in the investment world. It is easy and intuitive for new investors to learn and experiment with trading. It’s negative qualities mean that while it is great for trading small amounts, once you have a stronger understanding of investment strategies, you should consider upgrading to other apps.

Working on a computer in the grass

WeBull:

What is it?

WeBull is a free-trading app that is based on its research platform and markets to active traders. It is a do-it-yourself platform that provides users with the ability to track, analyze, and trade stocks. Investors can watch the stock market and their investments right from their phone with up to date information any time they want.

The Positives:

WeBull is designed for intermediate for advanced active users. On WeBull, users can trade over 5,000 different stocks with zero fees. One of Webull’s fun features is its incentive program. When you sign up, you get two free stocks. If you invite your friends, you get free stocks and they get free stocks. Its almost like you can hear Oprah saying, “You get a free stock, you get a free stock, and you get a free stock!”

The Negatives:

Webull is a bit more advanced of an app and takes getting used to it. If you are just starting, the various news feeds and trading options can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. In addition, WeBull has limited trading options that doesn’t offer cryptocurrency, mutual funds, or bonds.  

Overall:

We consider WeBull to be a more advanced version of Robinhood and should be used by those who are looking to step up their game a little bit more. It takes some getting used to, but the overall features of WeBull provide a lovely platform to trade stocks. Plus, the ability to get free stocks is like icing on the cake! 

Vanguard:

What is it?

Vanguard is an investment advising app that has trillions (yes, trillion with a “T”) under its management. The founder of Vanguard, Jack Bogle, even invented the first index fund; he sure changed the finance world! With Vanguard, you can invest in mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, bonds, retirement funds, and more with their easy to use platform.

The Positives:

Vanguard is the king when it comes to mutual fund and exchange-traded fund options. Not only that, but they're beloved by many because they have over 3,100 no-transaction-fee funds along with other very low-cost funds. This is perfect for those looking for long-term investments who want low fees and limited effort.

The Negatives:

Vanguard’s platform is not all that amazing. It is basic, and while it gets the job done, it is not the same as what you would get with a broker. As well, unlike Morningstar, Vanguard provides little research and data. Add on to that, the minimum account balance of $50,000, which can be too high for the very beginner investor. 

Overall:

Vanguard is excellent for those looking to invest for the long-haul without the daily trading aspect. Since some of the best ETFs come out of Vanguard, signing up with them provides benefits that make it worth using for more massive dollar investments. 

Real Estate Investing

Up until recent years, the only way to invest in real estate was to either own property yourself or to invest in REITs. These days, companies bring the potential for strong returns to the everyday investor through crowd-sharing real estate apps. 

Cute block house

Fundrise:

What is it?

Are you curious about investing outside of the common stocks, bonds, and index funds? Why not give real estate a try? We understand that not everyone is capable or willing to go out and buy a rental property or apartment building. With Fundrise, you don't have to. Their portfolio options are made up of diversified real estate projects across the USA that Fundrise finds, acquires, and managed for you.

The Positives:

One of the best parts of Fundrise is that it is accessible for the average investor (i.e., those who don't have millions in the bank) because it gives them a chance to access private real estate deals. You can begin investing with Fundrise with just $500 with their Starter Portfolio option. The platform is easy to navigate, and they offer a 90-day money-back return if you decide that they are not right for you.

The Negatives:

When investing in Fundrise, you will be locking up your money for a while as it is a long-term investment strategy. As well, just because Fundrise takes care of the management, doesn't mean that every investment is a good one. You will need to do your research before choosing a project to invest in (also known in the real estate world as doing your “due diligence”). Lastly, Fundrise has a variety of fees that can be applied. Make sure to read the fine print and understand how it applies to you. 

Overall: 

Fundrise is a quality app for those looking to invest outside of typical strategies. It is a good introduction to the real estate world and can provide a comparable return on investment of your money at an accessible starting point. 

Biggerpockets:

What is it?

Perhaps you are interested in becoming a traditional real estate investor. A traditional real estate investor can work within a variety of areas, from commercial real estate to wholesaling to rental property, and so much more. Biggerpockets is an educational and social platform that you can use to help you figure that all out. 

The Positives:

Biggerpockets provides a vast array of educational materials to learn about real estate investing, including blog articles, podcasts, webinars, videos, and deal-evaluating calculators from industry leaders. They aren’t trying to sell you a scheme or broker any deals for you, but instead, offer valuable material to help you understand your desired niche and how to be successful in it. In addition, Biggerpockets features a networking platform to connect with other real estate industry professionals and a marketplace to find deals.

The Negatives:

While Biggerpockets has a free membership option, it has limited features. To receive full benefits, most members need to upgrade to their Pro Membership, which costs $39 a month. In addition, this is a learning site, not an investment site. They will not broker or find deals for you; you are merely paying to learn.

Overall: 

Biggerpockets is an excellent education and connection-making resource for individuals who are serious about real estate investing. If you are just getting started in real estate, stick with the free membership, and once you are ready to jump in, upgrade to their Pro Plan.

Investment Apps Galore!

Holy cow batman! You made it all the way to the end! I am so impressed! If you are still confused about which apps are right for you, feel free to send us a message or leave a question in the comment box.