The 3 Money Apps That Helped Me Save Enough For My Next Vacation

published Jul 9, 2022
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I’ve always been a decent saver thanks to my mom, who taught me to live within my means from a very young age. Even when my weekly allowance was a mere $2, only half was mine to spend. The other $1 was put into a house-shaped money box that was never to be touched. 

While I no longer live at home or even in Australia where I’m from, it’s up to me to manage my finances, and these three apps (and a bonus fourth) have been game-changers. Together, they helped me save over $3,000 in the past year — money for my upcoming vacation. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Credit Karma 

As I mentioned, I’m from Australia, and while credit scores are still important Down Under, in the United States they carry much more weight. I built up a great credit score in Australia, but when I moved, I quickly learned they don’t transfer, and I had to start all over again. 

I was also surprised to learn many sites lower your score when you check it. Bizarre! Thankfully, I came across Credit Karma, where this is not the case. “Credit Karma isn’t a credit bureau or credit-reporting agency,” explains Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma. “The credit scores and reports you see on Credit Karma come directly from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major consumer credit bureaus.” This means you can check your credit score as much as you like without hurting it. 

And while having a high credit score won’t necessarily earn you more money, when the time comes, it will allow you to be approved for lower interest rates, which will save you money over the life of a loan. 

Credit Karma also has a great debt repayment calculator and provides clear and transparent personalized recommendations on the best credit cards for you, loans, cars, homes, etc. based on your credit score. I used this feature when I wanted a credit card that focused on travel benefits and incentives ahead of a trip to Greece. I went with the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card and after using it on qualifying purchases such as flights, dining, and accommodation, I earned around $500 back that I’ve put toward my upcoming trip. 

Credit: BONNINSTUDIO/Stocksy

Truebill 

I first came across Truebill advertised on the side of a bus. At the time, I was trying to find an app that could help me manage my budget and keep me updated when I got a little lax on my spending. I was also pleased to learn that Truebill helps you get better rates on your bills and assists in canceling things you no longer need (i.e. all those subscriptions I forget to cancel). 

When my Spectrum internet bill rose out of the blue, I got Truebill to negotiate and bring it back down. They also alerted me that I was paying too much on car insurance and there were cheaper options that still provided the comprehensive coverage I was looking for — I’ve since lowered my monthly rate significantly. 

Probably the best, most helpful saving feature Trubill has is their rainy day fund. You set the amount you’d like them to deduct (I chose $30/week) and they withdraw the money from your account and keep it in the app. While you’re not making interest on this, you’d be surprised how quickly it adds up. My $30/week is small enough to not notice it missing from my bank account, yet saves me $1,560 a year. That’s travel money ready to go!

Quickbooks 

This time it wasn’t a bus, but an influencer talking about Quickbooks. As a freelancer and small business owner, the amount of times I’ve just thrown out a business expense receipt is endless. But with this app, I’ve been able to simply take a picture of the receipt with the details automatically saved on the app and ready come tax time. A true game-changer for all business expenses. As I use Intuit for my taxes, it’s all connected and the deductions happen automatically. And as a bonus, the Quickbooks app can also track your mileage. 

Credit: Alita Ong/Stocksy

Rakuten 

There’s one more money app I’ve been using nonstop. Rakuten is a free money-back web extension and app that I absolutely adore. Because it’s used at thousands of stores — including Macy’s, Lowes, The Container Store, Ticketmaster, Sephora, and Expedia — I find myself saving money off Rakuten all the time, without even trying. Even though I’ve been limiting my shopping the past year, I’ve received over $200 cash back. 

Rakuten’s retail and shopping expert, Kristen Gall, advises if you’ve been eyeing a particular product, keep a look out for special offers. “Some promotions see cashback offers to increase up to 15 percent from select retailers and brands,” she shares. And it truly is real money — I can attest! Choose between a check in the mail or a deposit into your PayPal account. However, do note Rakuten only pays out your earnings once a quarter, and you must have made at least $5 to receive a payment.