You’re probably familiar with “keep the change” programs. Your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference is automatically deposited into your savings account. Savings app Qapital is based on this idea, but it takes automation to a whole new level. It allows you to turn pretty much anything into a savings trigger, so you can simultaneously save for a goal and practice good financial habits.
In a nutshell, Qapital is a savings account version of IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That. IFTTT is a useful tool for connecting any two webapps so you can automate actions between them (here’s a guide to the basics). Qapital works with IFTTT to make it even more awesome. We’ve briefly mentioned it before. Since then, I’ve started using it for my own savings goals, and it’s a fun app to play with if you’re a fan of automation.
The app is free, available online, and also available on iOS and Android. To start using it, you have to sign up for a Qapital account and link your bank accounts and credit cards. That’s how it works its magic: by reading your transactions and setting up certain rules based on your spending habits.
According to their security policy, they use the strongest 128-bit encryption possible, which “meets or exceeds bank standards.” They’re also FDIC-insured for up to $250,000. So, yes, it’s an actual savings account. A digital one, but a savings account nonetheless, and you can transfer and withdraw from it whenever you want.
Setting Rules and Goals
Once you get Qapital all set up, you’ll create some rules and goals. Your Qapital account is a single savings account, but you can create multiple goals within that account. For example, you could:
To fund your goals, you create rules. Your rules are based on different actions: spending a certain amount, spending at a specific store, a large deposit in your account, for example. Those actions then trigger Qapital to make deposits into your Qapital savings account. When you set up a rule, you’ll assign that rule a goal. For example, let’s say you’re trying to save for your vacation. You could set up a “vacation” goal, then create a rule to save a certain amount (or percentage) of each paycheck toward that goal. You can share goals with other Qapital users, too.
The goals don’t have to be long-term savings, though. You could simply set aside money for spending, and the goal would help you budget for that expense every month. For example, I set a goal for restaurant spending, because it’s a problem area for me. To get this under control, I’ve created a rule that saves a certain amount in my “restaurant fund” every time I spend on groceries. This way, I encourage myself to grocery shop and simultaneously budget for dining out. In a way, I’m using my bad habit to motivate a better one.
Of course, you could do the same thing with your regular checking and savings account. Qapital lets you separate your savings within a main account, though, so you can budget or save for multiple goals.
The app comes with some built-in suggestions for rules. For example, there’s the old “keep the change” standby. You can also set up a general rule to save based on any day or date (of course, you can do that with your regular ol’ bank account, too). The real fun of the app comes in with its more complex actions.
Get Impulsive Spending Under Control
Qapital’s “Guilty Pleasure Rule” is one of my favorites. It’s basically the Splurge to Save rule, only it’s automatic.
You assign it to automatically save a certain amount whenever you spend at a specific store. You can pick from their list of retailers, but it will also look through your recent transactions to see which stores might be problem areas for you. Either way, once you set up this rule, whenever you spend at say, Best Buy, Qapital will automatically set aside some cash for your goal.
For example, if you’re trying to break a fast food habit, but you can’t seem to resist the Taco Bell across the street from your office, you can program Qapital to “charge” you every time you feed your Quesarito craving. It’s an awesome rule if you’re trying to get impulsive spending under control.
You’re not limited to the financial actions based on your bank and credit card accounts, though. With the help of IFTTT, you can also use location-based triggers with Qapital. For example, this recipe uses your Foursquare account to deposit into Qapital every time you check into a location. It’s set up for a debt payoff goal, but you could trigger the “Then That” part of the equation to match your own specific goal.
Alternatively, you could create your own IFTTT location recipe using your iOS or Android location. You would just set up an IFTTT recipe to save a set amount into your Qapital account any time your phone (and, presumably, your person) is in a location you specify.
Set Aside Cash for Estimated Taxes
When you work full-time, you don’t have to worry about paying your taxes throughout the year. Your employer does that for you. Freelancers don’t have this convenience, though; we have to send in our tax payments every quarter. If you’re not great at saving, that can be a challenge. Qapital takes care of this problem with its “Freelancer Rule.”
With this rule, every time you get a deposit over a set amount, you tell Qapital to save a certain percentage of that amount. Of course, you’ll determine that percentage based on your estimated tax bracket. This way, you don’t have to worry about doing the math on your own, which is especially useful if your paychecks vary. More importantly, you don’t have to set aside anything in the first place. Your tax money will be right there in your Qapital account every quarter.
Save Every Time You’re Productive
You can also make progress on your savings goal and an unrelated goal at the same time. The IFTTT Qapital channel connects to your Todoist account or your iOS tasks, so you can “pay” yourself every time you check something off your list. This comes in handy for big projects—your savings acts as a milestone.
Plus, you’re making financial progress at the same time.
You can also connect Qapital to Pocket and save money every time you read something on your list. Let’s say you’re trying to get your finances in order and you’re reading up on how to start investing or how to save for a home down payment. You could reward yourself every time you get through an article on the topic. This way, not only did you learn something useful, you also made some concrete, tangible progress toward your goal. You’re learning more, but you’re also taking actionable steps toward your goal.
In general, Qapital is an awesome tool for automating your savings goals and juggling them all at once. Combined with IFTTT, the possibilities are almost endless. These rules can help you get started, and you can come up with your own to customize it to your liking.