The App Store is saturated with tools for helping you keep track of your budget, spending, income, credit score, and more. However, each app is different, offering varying levels of user-friendliness, security, and helpful features. We’ve built a list of the most useful apps for keeping track of your finances–from budgeting and paying bills, to learning about investing and credit, these apps have you covered.

Mint

Mint is the juggernaut of budgeting apps. You can securely sync all of your bank accounts, loan accounts (credit card, student loans, etc.) and even income accounts like PayPal. Once you’ve logged in, Mint does most of the work for you. In fact, just yesterday I got a notification from Mint that I was charged extra for my gym membership.

In the app or from the website you can design your own personalized budget that includes things like food, shopping, groceries, gas, etc. When you make a purchase with one of your linked cards, Mint automatically sorts the purchase into the correct category.

Aside from budgets, Mint also helps you set up a timeline for paying your debts. It shows you how long it will take at your current monthly payment amount and tells you how much you would save in interest by paying it off faster.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is like a sleek, minimal version of Mint. However, its main strength, as the name suggests, is security. It boasts several barriers to identity theft and complicated and technical security measures that we won’t get into here (we’re talking 128-BIT SSL encryption).

PocketGuard is also simpler than Mint, both in terms of content and display. Plus, you won’t see as many advertisements for credit cards that Mint so slyly sneaks into just about every screen you view.

Home Budget with Sync

The name’s a little awkward, we know. But they added that “with Sync” in there for a reason. Home Budget’s most redeeming feature is that it allows you to sync up with other budgets in your household (your spouse, roommate, etc.). This makes it much easier for couples who are splitting bills to keep track of their expenses and savings.

One piece of advice is to choose what you share wisely. Not everyone wants to share all of their personal finance information with others.

You Need a Budget

You Need a budget, or as its many happy customers call it, YNAB, is a whole lot more than just a way to keep track of your money. It boasts several learning resources that empowers you with financial knowledge. Where other apps just let you plug in numbers, YNAB teaches you what all of those numbers mean and helps you make more informed decisions with your money.

YNAB is created with the intention of reducing your financial stress. It has simple videos, instructables, and more to help you learn the ins and outs of budgeting. Then it helps you build your own budget and stick to it with many of the same features as Mint or PocketGuard.

Personal Capital

If you’re ready for the big leagues of finance and want to start investing and tracking your assets, Personal Capital will help you get there. This app is designed for managing and analyzing assets.

The app’s main features are broken into categories: cashflow, retirement, investing, and net worth. The outstanding feature here is investing. It simplifies investing, checks up on your investments, and gives you useful tips that will help you get your toes wet in the investment world.

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The deck at your home is your outdoor oasis. It’s your place to party. It’s the place where guests gather. What can you do to ensure that your deck is ready for entertaining and comfortable enough for the whole family? We have some tips to help you through the sometimes tedious process of getting your outdoor space ready for entertaining.

Buy Quality Outdoor Furniture

The higher the quality of the outdoor furniture that you buy is, the longer it will last. Your outdoor furniture will look great and last more than one season when you make purchasing this furniture an investment.

Create An Enclosure

You can easily create a defined enclosure for a deck by using objects like large planters or ferns. If you stay away from boring lattice board, your deck will certainly be stylish! Also, you’ll create some natural privacy for your next outing on the deck.

Don’t Fall Off The Edge

If the edges of your deck aren’t clearly defined, you’ll definitely need to complete this task. Not having the edge of the deck defined with railings or planters is a safety hazard in the first place. Even a piece of cloth or drapery, hanging can help to define the edge of a deck. Just be sure that there’s railings on the other side of those cloth pieces to help keep everyone safe!

Natural Transitions

It’s important to create a natural sort of transition between your deck and your yard. The deck is an extension of the home, yet the beginning of your yard. Try creating a small garden near the end of the deck to make a clear transition into the yard area. A swing, statue, or a cute yard ornament can also do the trick for creating a transition in this case.

Conversations Work Best In Circles

The same principles that interior designers use in living rooms work when it comes to arranging outdoor seating. Putting your seating in a circle allows for all of your guests to feel included in a conversation when you’re hosting. This arrangement allows for an intimate gathering with guests.

Cook Near The Action

If you keep a grill on your deck, it’s a great idea to keep the grill near the action. This way, you can stay near your guests while you’re cooking without being pulled away from the fun or missing out on conversations that your friends are having.

Light It Up

One of the most important things you can do to improve your deck is that of placing lighting around the deck. Lighting allows you and your guests to use your deck into the night hours. Lighting is also an important safety feature for your deck. It’s important that deck lighting isn’t very bright though. You don’t want the entire neighborhood to be aware that you’re hanging out on your deck with a spotlight on you!

These tips should help you to create a better deck and outdoor entertaining environment.

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