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Accountability apps can give you tools that help you stick to your budget. If you have a hard time developing internal motivation to stay on budget, these apps can provide external motivation you need to get you through rough patches.
Check out these four different types of accountability apps that you can use to stay motivated.
1. Visual Progress Trackers
If seeing your budget progress helps to keep you accountable, consider opting for a visual tracker that can help illustrate your progress.
Input personalized data—like how many dollars saved or maximum dollars spent—to track your unique progress with Beeminder. Watch as a line chart takes the shape of your success. For advanced data lovers, Beeminder lets you modulate your inputs to get the precise chart you want.
How much it costs: Beeminder can be used for free if you meet your goals, but if you miss them you'll be charged a specified amount. Alternatively, you can pay for upgraded versions starting at $8 per month for more customizable goal setting.
When you're trying to stay accountable with a visual tool, consider the Fabulous habit-builder app, which creates visual roadmaps or streak counters to show your progress.
How much it costs: Fabulous offers a 30-day free trial, after which it charges $49.99 per year, or $14.99 if billed monthly.
2. Accountability Coaches and Partners
Maybe you don't want to go it alone. In that case, find an app that can help you stay accountable with a coach or partner.
Pick an experienced financial coach from the Coach.me database to support you as you reach your budget goals. Though this one-on-one coach may be a pricier option, if you need professional help and accountability, it could be a great investment.
How much it costs: Coach.me starts at $25 per week for your one-on-one coach.
There are a few ways to add partners to StickK, an accountability app. You can add referees who verify that you have met your commitment contract goals. Also add supporters who are just there to cheer you on. Finally, add recipients of any stakes you pledge, who benefit from your slip-ups.
How much it costs: StickK is free if you meet your goals. But each time you slip up you lose a pledged amount of money. You can opt for it to go to a charity whose work you support, an organization whose views you don't support (known as an anti-charity) or an individual recipient of your choosing.
3. Social Media Apps
Don't want to let down your adoring fans? Consider documenting your budget accountability on social media. Post on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube to show people your progress and stay accountable to your process. You may even make some money by monetizing your content.
But be careful about revealing personal financial information to a large audience. Make sure to cover any account numbers in pictures or videos. Financial information like this could expose you to identity thieves. Try not to reveal if you keep a large amount of cash on hand in your home to prevent becoming a target for theft.
4. Financial Pledge Apps
Have you heard of "loss aversion"? This describes how some people are motivated by the possibility of losing something.
When it comes to financial budgeting, it means you pledge something—like $5—which you would only pay if you miss your budget goal. Both Beeminder and StickK make use of loss aversion to help you hit your goals, and putting money at stake is designed to motivate you to reach them.
Other Ways to Stay Accountable
There are other ways to stay accountable, such as:
- Open a sinking fund. Consider using accounts that let you create sinking funds to help stick to your savings goals. Accounts like Accrue Savings may even reward you with some cash toward your purchase goal.
- Use a "budget jar." These jars can help you reward yourself for positive budgeting behavior. Stash a dollar for each day you stick to your budget. At the end of the month, reward yourself with this little fund to spend on something you want.
- Find an accountability group. Use a trustworthy, financially savvy spouse, family member or even online support group to keep you accountable with your finances. Consider sharing a joint debit account with a family member so you can monitor each others' spending, or asking them to hang on to cash envelopes so you have to talk to them each time you want to spend.
Stay Motivated With Budgeting
At the heart of accountability apps are you and your own motivation. As most of these are self-reported, you still must verify that you've stuck to your financial plan. This means you are already motivated to make changes in your budgeting habits, even if the app provides you with an incentive.
Choose a budgeting style that you reasonably can stay accountable to, like envelope-based budgeting or the 50/30/20 rule. Consider adding your financial accounts to the personal finance tool in your Experian account. Manage your money and track your spending in one convenient place to make staying accountable to your budget simpler.