Frugal Find Friday: Earmark

Several times a week, I’ll overhear someone lamenting money. Usually this happens while said person is handling over $6 for a coffee or anteing up with a bartender at the end of the night. I’ll give a tight smile and sympathetic head tilt. Even with all my insanely frugal ways, I’m not immune to the occasional budget leak. So, when I stumbled upon the app Earmark, I was immediately drawn to their party line: “You’re money has a higher calling. Earmark helps you find it.”

Earmark, a free iOS app, helps users develop goal-oriented money spending habits. It doesn’t encourage deprivation, but instead helps you evaluate a purchase. Even though I would love to buy a chai tea latte at my favorite coffee house to start my mornings, I know the fiscally responsible thing to do is buy chai tea bags and brew my own cup. Instead of just mentally patting myself on the back for this move, I now “earmark” the money I save by BYOChai.


The sense of humor is just an added bonus.

Earmarked items add up towards a greater goal. When you download the app, again it’s free, you first identify your “High Five” otherwise known as the top five items you’re hoping to splurge on. I’ve got an anniversary trip with Peach to save up for. Whenever I’m sipping on that lukewarm cup o’ chai, I just picture the bicycle wine tour around Niagara on the Lake we just booked. The earmarks move a meter underneath your “high five” item to show just how close you are to affording your splurge.


Giving up those chai tea lattes for a greater cause!

Now, you’re probably all wondering what exactly happens to this “earmarked” money? If you’re writing down that you decided to just drink water at happy hour or rummage through your fridge for leftovers, what’s to keep you from spending those sweet saved dollars on something else? Well, you could always hold yourself accountable and transfer the money into your savings account each day. But, if you find looking at your bank account to be extremely depressing, then may I suggest using Earmark’s integrated solution: Dwolla.

By setting up a Dwolla account you can automatically move earmarked funds out of your bank account into the Dwolla account without any transaction fees. As soon as you’ve reached your goal (or need the money for any reason) you can cash out and splurge (or get tipsy while riding bikes and hope the Mounties don’t give you a DUI…).

There is also a social media component to Earmark, because naturally you want to brag about your fiscal responsibility to your Facebook friends. Luckily for said friends, all your social commenting only exists within the app. No spamming of homepages and walls will occur. Friends can send you suggestions for items they think you should high five and can provide emotional support, because we all need that when it comes to money. Facebook is the platform used to sign into Earmark. If you’re being a rebel and bucking Facebook, then you have to wait for the next round of updates when the app integrates Twitter.

This may be one of the “frugalest” of frugal finds. A FREE app that helps save you money. Come on guys, that’s pretty awesome. If my writing didn’t convince you then just try watching the two-year-old Lola explain Earmark. She really gives Pearl the Landlord a run for her money.


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14 comments on “Frugal Find Friday: Earmark
  1. I’m still working on my earmark app! I was bad with spending earlier in the month but I’m back on track again.

  2. Thank you so much for the post! I really appreciate it. If you were a burp, you totally would taste good coming back up 😉

    To the other ppls who read this post: feel free to tweet/email us with any feedback or questions! We really love hearing from people as we are working on a bunch of updates (including Android!) and your input influences what we build next.

  3. That is the best promotional video I’ve ever seen!

    Unfortunately the app requires Facebook to log-in so I’ll have to wait a while before I get to try it. Looks good though.

  4. It’s too bad there isn’t a Droid app for this, at least I don’t think there is one?

    • Not yet; but we’re working on it! We didn’t have enough time and money to build on both, and our team are iOS experts…so iOS it was! If you’d like, I can add you to our Android mailing list – we’ll email you when it’s out. Or, you can sign up yourself at

      Thanks, David.

  5. I’ve never heard of Earmark! I’ll have to check it out!

  6. Wow, Erin!! What a great app/idea! Almost makes me want to spend money on a Smartphone. 🙂

    • #BrokeMillennial says:

      Almost being the operative word! You save so much money but not having one. Mine comes in handy a lot for my job and just general NYC living, but staying to a non-Smartphone is a great money saver.

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