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Best New Apps: Level

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I’ve spent years "managing" my money using Mint.com — creating budgets, renaming transactions, tracking spending month over month, and using precision labels like "Alcohol / Bars" to see how much I’m boozing. But I couldn’t put a finger on why I was doing all of this: I felt a little safer being able to see a dashboard of all my money on the screen in front of me, but I hardly ever took action based on the results I saw. Only once I tried Level, a new app for iPhone, did I realize that the question I truly cared about was this: how much money can I spend today, or this week, or this month?

How much money can I spend today, or this week, or this month?

Level, like Mint, plugs into your bank accounts and pulls in all your transactions, but instead of merely being an interface — a client for all my money — Level implores you to do something about your spending. The core functionality of Level is taking the money you have left after recurring rent and bills each month and dividing that number by 30 (or 28, or 31) to show you how much you can spend today. Spend over your daily limit, and your spending limit the next day drops accordingly. Level is the simplest way to gauge, at a glance, how much money you can spend today to stay on track to net zero dollars at the end of the month. Spending under your daily limit adds on to a "Rollover" number, so you know how much you’re saving and can give yourself a pat on the back. If there’s something specific you’re saving for, you can set up Auto Save, which sets a specific amount aside and subtracts that amount from your monthly spending allocation.

Unless an app provides a concrete utility that brings me back day after day, I just don’t have time for it. I still use Mint to make sure I’m not eating out too much or having too many drinks at the bar, but Level has taken its place on my coveted home screen, and I refer to it daily. Level isn’t for everyone, but for people with just a few bills to pay per month and a predictable cash flow, there’s no better app for providing clarity on your finances. One thing well? This app does it.


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