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Microsavings: five tools to keep your finances in check

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(Read caption) The President John Adams presidential $1 coin. Micro savings tools can help grow your small savings into something substantial.

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Not all of us have the ability to save large amounts of money every month, but saving for emergencies, future expenses, and large purchases are nonetheless important goals. That's where microsaving tools are helpful. Microsavings accounts are designed for small (and in some cases very small) deposits into a savings account that has little to no balance minimums. You simply save a few dollars every week and watch as your balance grows steadily over time.

Your biggest asset with microsaving is time. The longer you give yourself to reach a financial goal, the more time you have to save up money, and the smaller financial burden you'll place on your bank account in the short-term.

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Below are five microsaving tools that help you save money with little effort.

1. Digit

I've been using Digit since the middle of January 2015, and have been addicted to the service! Not only is it free and easy to use, but the company also caters to millennials who are interested in using their smartphones to make deposits and receive notifications of their account via text. (See also: Can a Robot Called Digit Really Help You Save More?)

Each week a small amount of money, based on your checking account balance, is transferred into your Digit account. The average deposit is usually less than $14, and in some cases as little as $2, depending on whether or not it's near payday.

Digit's algorithm only transfers money that you can afford to save, and offers overdraft protection so you don't have to worry about overdrafting your account. In other words, you'll never know the money's gone — until you get a text detailing your ever-increasing Digit account balance.

2. Simple

Although Simple is an up-and-coming bank in their own right, their service is unique because it focuses on multiple savings goals made right from their mobile app. You start by creating a new goal, naming it, and then setting up automatic savings transfers with just as little as $1.

In addition, they offer spending and budget tracking features that allow you to view your spending habits to find holes where you could be saving more money. Once you sign up for the free service, you're given a Visa card that's attached to your Simple bank account. From there you get access to all their features, including microsavings goals, and never have to pay a fee to use it.

3. Acorns

Not only is microsavings perfect for small financial goals, but this same principal applies to investing as well. Smaller, more affordable amounts can add up to a large portfolio as time goes on.

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Acorns capitalizes on this new trend by offering a service that rounds up your spending transactions to the nearest whole dollar amount. Similar to Bank of America's Keep the Change program, Acorns takes the difference of your "round ups" and transfers the funds into your Acorns investment portfolio.

While the service won't make you rich, and you definitely won't be able to retire solely on the funds saved with Acorns, it's still a great way to get started as a new or young investor. I've been pleased with their service and have been using it since October 2014.

4. SmartyPig

Similar to Simple, SmartyPig allows you to create multiple goals and transfer money into these microsavings accounts each month. The only difference is that SmartyPig is not a bank and partners with the BBVA Compass institution to insure funds held by users.

Another distinction is that when you've achieved your goal with SmartyPig you can then cash in your savings to spend via a gift card and receive an additional bonus (sometimes up to 14% cash back). Otherwise you can transfer the funds to your regular checking account and spend the money as you wish.

5. Kiva

While this tool doesn't allow you to save money, it does offer the chance to pay it forward through a microloan to entrepreneurs around the world. Your $25 microloan is added to loans from other Kiva donors dedicated to helping people in developing countries purchase much-needed supplies, equipment, and invest in their family-owned business.

As someone who's newly self-employed, I live on a very tight budget, but that doesn't mean I don't want to give to others when I can. Kiva makes it possible, and very affordable, to give to other entrepreneurs and creatives around the world who are in the same place I am — trying to make a difference while providing for their family.

The microfinance world is about making giving and saving affordable for all of us, no matter what our financial situation is. The above tools listed here are bridging the gap between the wealthy and the lower class while making financial goals affordable to everyone.


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