Most everyone was financially impacted by the COVID crisis, and much of 2020 has seen many American families struggling to pay rent, keep their power on and afford essentials like food and healthcare. Seven months after the start of the reaction to the pandemic in the U.S., millions of Americans continue to struggle, both financially and psychologically — and the holidays are just around the corner.
We need the holiday season more than ever, even if we can’t travel and must celebrate with only a handful of close friends and family members. Yet, it is likely that this year’s holidays will be an exercise in belt-tightening, unlike any holiday season in memory. Fortunately, a few money management tools can help American families navigate the holidays and generate the good will and cheer they so desperately need. Here are the best fintech apps to use during the lead-up to December — and perhaps beyond.
Quicken was one of the first major money management software available, and having survived a few decades of improvement and fine-tuning, the app is so much more robust than anything else on the market. Quicken is useful for developing a holiday budget, tracking holiday expenditures, paying holiday bills — and completing these tasks outside the holiday season, too. In fact, Quicken has the right features for small business financial management and boasts property management functions, too. Quicken can be found for $34.99, but sometimes Intuit runs sales on the software.
If Quicken was among the first personal finance tools for the computer, Mint was one of the first widely used money management apps. Much more streamlined than more robust tools, designed for use on mobile devices by those needing a fast, intuitive money management solution, Mint is attractive and even fun to use. The app tracks spending and breaks it down into easy-to-digest categories with simple and effective charts. It has features like alerts for bill payments and low balances, to keep users accountable to their holiday (or everyday) goals. Mint is free to download on mobile devices and there is a desktop variation, variant, as well.
Prism is less about money management and more about bill management — which can be exceedingly useful during the holiday season. The app combines information from every financial account (allowing users to add accounts from more than 11,000 billers), providing a complete picture of past and upcoming bill payments. Prism sends reminders to prevent late payments and even has payment scheduling capabilities, making the process of paying bills much easier. Unlike some other money management mobile apps, Prism is completely free to use, with no fees whatsoever.
Not every financial tool good for the holidays is about building budgets or paying bills. SlickDeals is an app designed for helping shoppers find price cuts on items they are planning to buy. Utilizing sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, this app searches for, well, slick deals. The app homepage offers some outstanding deals handpicked by the team behind the app, which can be useful for brainstorming gift ideas around the holidays. Slickdeals, like other mobile apps, is free, but users might need to download other apps to see and purchase the deals.
Like Slickdeals, RedLaser is a tool for helping holiday shoppers find the lowest price on their loved ones’ gifts (and any other purchases they might make). Essentially, RedLaser is a barcode scanning app that identifies products and scours the web for the best deal. This can be exceedingly helpful for users who have a particular gift in mind and want to shave off as many pennies as possible from their holiday budget. Even better, the app also searches for coupons related to sought-after products, saving shoppers even more cash. RedLaser is free — and it is ad-free, too.
Finally, for holiday budgeters who aren’t looking for a tool that is useful beyond the holiday season, there are several apps designed only for holiday shopping, and Santa’s Bag is probably the best. This app helps with every aspect of holiday gift shopping, from creating a list of recipients to inputting their gift lists to tracking purchased gifts to managing a budget. It is simple and wonderfully themed — but it does lack some of the functionality of more robust personal finance apps.
The holidays are about giving, about celebrating and about relaxing. Anyone can accomplish all three by relying on the right money management through the holiday season — and as long as the COVID crisis continues to cripple personal finances.