The toolbox: level up your personal finances

Our go-to tech expert Jack Cohen introduces three tools that promise to transform the way you manage your money. Let's get budgeting.
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Save and invest, pocket your spare change, bank smarter and earn rewards.

What it is – and why it should be on your radar. ‘Remember that little piggy bank you had as a kid? You know, the one into which you'd drop a couple of coins every so often, and then, almost as if by magic, months later, the jar would be filled to the brim and you could treat yourself to something really special? Enter Acorns – the piggy bank reincarnated for your adult self. Don't expect your Acorns account to somehow drastically change your net worth overnight but, for feel-good, set-it-and-forget-it financial wellness apps, I've yet to come across a better solution than Acorns.’


• ‘There are a host of features to dive into, but my favorite is Round-Ups. Acorns will round up the dollars you're spending and automatically invest it into a portfolio built by financial experts.’

• ‘With Recurring Investments, Acorns automatically sets aside $5 or $10 a week into a fully managed investment portfolio that you can monitor via its app.’


• ‘One downside to Acorns is its simplicity – if you're looking for a fully featured, robust financial wellness platform, this will likely be too beginner for you.’


• The Personal plan is $3 per month, or $5 for a Family plan.


An easy way to find your subscriptions, manage bills and cancel recurring charges. 

What it is – and why it should be on your radar. ‘Trying to create a smarter budget? Have you let your subscriptions get a little out of hand? Need some help getting your personal finances in order? Truebill [now Rocket Money] can help with all of it. There's no shortage of financial wellness or budgeting apps out there today – believe me, I've tried them all – but I keep coming back to Truebill for its user-friendly design, rock-solid integrations, subscription management service and much more. I'd consider Truebill a semi-professional budgeting app. If you want to go full pro, check out Tiller, my next recommendation.’ 


• ‘Get a quick, in-depth look at daily transaction reports and set up automatic or custom categorization rules, like groceries or travel.’

• ‘View your subscription calendar, showing every subscription Truebill has identified in your accounts and, better yet, for select services, Truebill will cancel on your behalf.’


• ‘Truebill's recent acquisition by [loan provider] Rocket Companies is one thing to be aware of. This could lead to more in-app advertising or a decreased focus on maintaining app functionality.’ 


• The starter account is free. For Premium accounts, users can choose a price from $3 to $12 a month.


Your financial life in a spreadsheet, automatically updated each day.

What it is – and why it should be on your radar. ‘Behind every great strategy is a spreadsheet. Most apps abstract that raw data away, so you're left with a beautiful, easy-to-use interface. But, for some, the real power comes from unfettered access to the raw data. A number of friends shared with me that they navigate to each financial account, download the raw reports, port them into Google Sheets and analyze their finances that way. What if the bulk of that labor was automated? What if you had all the power of spreadsheet data, but your transactions flowed in automatically? That's what Tiller unlocks.’


• ‘Tiller has acknowledged that the best interface might be the least sexy. You get access to a Google Sheet with tabs presenting your transactions in tables and charts.’ 

• ‘It isn't meant for beginners. For the spreadsheet wizard who's eager to operate their budgets in the most flexible manner, Tiller is for you.’


• ‘While robust, this isn't the most intuitive platform to use if you're not steeped in spreadsheet analysis.’

• ‘It's exclusively desktop-based so, if you want something mobile-friendly, I'd suggest holding off.’


• Free to try for 30 days, then $79 per year after that. 

A version of this article was first published in Courier issue 49, September/October 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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