*Cue singing voice* Cash back and savings, rewards and discounts, investments and deposits in large amounts, and credit checks for FREE… These are a few of my faaaavvvoorite things!

After wrapping up an *interesting* year it’s time that we get back to our money goals.

Whether it’s budgeting, planning to pay your debt off, monitoring your credit, or getting cash back on your spending, the right tools will guide you towards your financial success. I’ve gathered up a list of some of the best money apps and services to help you get focused and stay locked in whether you’ve never created a budget or you’re a seasoned investor. Soooo, with that said, I’m excited to share… *cue the drumroll*

The Budgetnista’s “Favorite Financial Tools of 2021”! The following tools will help you start and/or maintain your journey to financial wellness:


Let me guess, Dream Catcher?! You want to improve your credit, right?! Nope. I’m not psychic; it’s just an easy guess because it’s the number one topic that I am emailed about. 

Let me introduce you to Self! Self (previously known as Self Lender) is an awesome, easy-to-use credit building account that helps you build your credit through a secure credit builder loan AND a secure credit card. 

For years, Dream Catchers have sent in their testimonies on how well these products work. Let me break down the credit building account here. (*Bonus* You can check out both options in this blog post where I lay it all out.)

  1. Sign up for a free Self membership (Available Nationwide!) *Bonus: You’ll get your credit score and credit monitoring, including notifications for free!
  2. Choose the, “build credit and savings” option.
  3. Fill out the form.
  4. Take out a credit builder loan. I suggest you take one out for the lowest amount possible so your monthly payments will be manageable. (*Bonus: Unlike a traditional loan, this one is held for you in a one-year, FDIC-insured certificate of deposit bank (CD) account.*)
  5. At the end of the year, the CD will mature and unlock, and its 0.10% APY growth rate means you’ll GET YOUR MONEY BACK, plus a little interest (minus fees).

Sidebar: You can pay off the loan earlier if you like too. You can pay it off anytime within the year. When you do, you’ll get the money from the CD back.

Das it!

Basically, it’s a loan, but YOU DO NOT get the money. Instead, Self puts it away for you in a CD.

It’s like taking a loan from yourself while saving money at the same darn time! Remember, credit bureaus are more concerned with the habit of paying regularly, more than the amount borrowed, so borrow a low amount.

The purpose is to show creditors you can pay back and off what you owe. Self is genius, right?!


I’ve seen it time and again in my 10+ years as “The Budgetnista” (and done it myself). Women are more than willing to track expenses… create budgets…  save money… and pay off debts. But as SOON as the talk turns to investment– poof! They disappear.

Let me introduce you to Acorns. Ta-da!

Acorns is a DOPE micro-investing app that helps you turn your spare change into a “whole” investment portfolio… right from your phone!

Acorns is a mobile-first platform that is easy to use and takes less than 5 minutes to set-up your account. Just answer a few questions and you are ready to go with no minimum investment required.

Acorns makes investing super simple by rounding up each of your purchases to the next dollar and funneling that spare change right into your Acorns investment portfolio.

For example, that Target purchase that was $29.19, would be rounded up to $30. You won’t even miss the 81 cents that will, instead, get added to your investment account. 

Acorns recently added more holistic services to its repertoire which will make it a good choice at ANY stage of the game––Acorns Invest, Acorn Later, and Acorn Spend. Learn more here


Credit Sesame is a FREE credit management tool that helps you understand your credit profile, access financial tools and personalized recommendations, and take control of your finances. Here are the perks:

  1. Get your FREE credit score and monitoring with alerts about changes to your report.
  2. Free identity theft protection with up to 50,000 in identity theft insurance.
  3. Real time monitoring and alerts that identify key financial indicators and provide better credit card and loan options when they are available to you.
  4. Powerful Financial Insight to help you make better decisions to improve your financial life and provide information about what’s impacting your credit score, if you’re overpaying on your loans and credit cards, and how your financial picture compares to your peers.
  5. Manage your credit and loans all in one place.
  6. Mobile apps for easy access to your financial portfolio.

All dat for F-R-E-E!! Get into it!


*Does a quick money dance…because if you know me, you already know that Rakuten is my jam!*

Who doesn’t love to get PAID to shop???!!! Well, Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates), is my right hand man when it comes to getting CASH MONEY to shop so that I’m saving and spending at the same darn time!

Rakuten literally gives you F-R-E-E cash into your bank account for shopping at your favorite stores like Walmart, Target, Kohls, travel sites, food, entertainment and MORE!

It is easy and free to sign up and comes with the Cash Back extension to add to your browser. Once you have created an account, you can download the Cash Back extension and it will alert you EVERY TIME you’re on a store website that participates in the Rakuten cash back program.

I know you want in on FREE money, so hit the link and sign up today!! If there is ever a staple tool in my financial tool box, it will forever be Rakuten… yeah, my love runs deep!

This year WILL NOT catch us Dream Catchers slipping… 


If you really want to see your savings account flourish and you have a hard time putting money away in your “piggy bank”… you’re going to love my favorite way to save: AUTOMATION!!! 

Digit is my favorite, effortless way to save money without even thinking about it. Digit studies your spending habits, then automatically finds small amounts of money that you don’t spend and saves it for you! Takes all the thinking out of it and makes it a no-brainer to save your coins!

You can set your own savings goals, Digit is FDIC insured, and has an app for easy use and access to your account. 

Building wealth without even thinking about it?! *Mind Blown*

Let me remind you that getting your finances in order is not a one-time thing…it’s an ongoing process. So take your time and know that each journey is unique… YOUR journey is unique. So as we close out 2020 with sparklers and fireworks… make sure you’re getting the most bang for your bucks going into the new year!

My Lisa Rule: I have 4 sisters and Lisa is the baby (well she’s not a baby anymore). Of all of my sisters, I’m the most protective over her. Before I share any product or service with you, it must pass my Lisa Rule.

What’s the Lisa Rule? If I would not advise Lisa to use a product or service, I wouldn’t advise you to. YOU are my Lisas. I feel protective over you and your financial journey.

The products/services mentioned in this post pass my Lisa Rule. Yes, I’m an affiliate, but I would not recommend a product or service that I didn’t believe was helpful and useful.

About the Author Tiffany Aliche

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, is an award-winning teacher of financial education, America’s favorite, personal financial educator, and author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Get Good with Money. The Budgetnista is also an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The One Week Budget and the Live Richer Challenge series and most recently, a children's book, Happy Birthday Mali More.

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