Technology is moving at a rapid pace and the personal finance area is no exception. There have been plenty of apps coming out over the last 5-7 years which help you with a wide range of financial activities such as budgeting, saving money, paying bills, keeping track of spending patterns, and much more. With so many apps around, the key is to pick the best ones for the financial task that you want to achieve using the app.
Using technology allows you to collect information from disparate sources and organize all that information for better decision making. You also save time by not having to log on to multiple websites to see account details, balances, etc. An app can connect to various accounts at various banks and show you all the information in a centralized location.
An app also acts as an assistant – reminding you that it’s time to make a bill payment or whether you need to follow up with a client to collect your pay which has been outstanding. You can save on late payment fees and lost income by using these finance apps.
One of the best parts of modern app technology is analytics. There were times in the past when people used to balance their checkbooks, keep their receipts, and manually record every expense to keep track of their finances. Now, with an app, everything can be recorded on the phone and stored in the cloud. What’s more, you get insights from this data, you can spot trends, and look at patterns of your financial inflows and outflows. Such analytics can help you make informed choices when it comes to your hard earned money.
So without further ado, let us look at some of the best apps in the industry:
This app is perhaps the most widely featured app on all forms of personal finance. It is the most popular app for budgeting. The Mint app has been created by Intuit, Inc. which is very well known for Quickbooks and the all famous TurboTax. Mint allows you to track your expenses. It records these expenses and even categorizes them. You can also set up Mint to remind you when a bill payment is due. By connecting your bank accounts, the app can help inform you whether you have enough money to pay those bills.
Once you start using the app, it records data, performs analysis, and starts to spot trends. Based on your transactions, it will eventually start giving you pointers on how you can gain a stronger control over your finances.
A nice freebie with the mint app is the feature of your credit score. It will display your credit score for free so that you know the status of your financial health. If you are looking for a great budgeting app, give Mint a try.
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You Need a Budget or YNAB is an app for serious and committed people. It will push you to live within your means, quite literally. You will be persuaded to pay off your debts (whether its credit card debt or any other debt), not spend at all beyond your limit, and not create any imaginary budgets. The third point is quite important because a lot of the apps allow you to create budgets by entering numbers which could be completely fictional. You can create any budget you like, but what if it’s not real? What if you never had the money which you created a budget for?
YNAB is not a free service, and you do have to pay a monthly fee to take advantage of the app. But the advantage is very real, average users pay off around $500 of debt in the first month of use. New users also end up saving $600 on average in terms of expenses. YNAB even has online classes with live instructors whom you can ask questions about budgeting issues. There is a feature known as “accountability partner” that keeps you in line with your financial plans and savings goal, preventing you from deviating. If you have used other apps in the past and found them to be not very effective, then YNAB is definitely the app for you.
Prism is the bill paying app. Any kind of bill that needs to be paid, Prism will help you do so. Once you add your bill to Prism, it will track the due dates automatically and prompt you to make payments on time. Another feature that Prism offers is automatic payment. The app itself can pay the bills that are due on your behalf. So, you do not have to stop all your work, log in to a website, and make bill payments. Prism can do that for you and you can have peace of mind that it will be done on time and you won’t be charged any late payment fees.
The Prism app has connected with around 11,000 billers which is more than the number that any other well-known app offers. The app is free to use and saves a lot of time and money (late fees) by helping you stay on top of your bills.
Personal finance is not just about budgets and bill payments. It is also about wealth creation and goal achievement. In order to achieve your financial goals, whether it is putting your kids through college, buying a house, or having sufficient money during retirement, you need to plan out your finances by making smart investments. Retirement plans like 401k and Roth IRAs are the commonly known ways to invest money.
Now there is an app called Personal Capital, which help you manage your investments. It combines human advisors and algorithms used by Robo-advisors to give you insights into where to invest and how much to allocate to those investments. Things like diversification and risk management are seamlessly taken care of with the use of the app. You can even compare how your portfolio is doing against the benchmark.
Some of the investment tools in the Personal Capital app are free while other services are paid ones. For your money, you can get good investment advice and even speak with financial advisors who can help customize your portfolio depending on your financial goals and risk profile.
The app called Acorns is a unique saving/investing tool. It rounds up any credit card or other purchase to the highest dollar and invests the change into an Exchange Traded Fund. So, for example, imagine that you bought something for $1.75. Acorn will round it up to $2 and invest the $0.25 in an ETF. This whole concept of automated good financial habit can end up creating wealth for you. Just imagine how many purchases you make every week which are odd decimal amounts. All that “change” is being put to use with Acorns.
You might say that you are paying more than what you should be for an item. Instead of paying $1.75, you are paying $2. But Acorns users have said that they do not feel any major difference in rounding up of these “decimal amounts”. The real benefit is seen at the end of the year, or end of two/three years, when you find $1000 or $2000 in your Acorns investment account. Drop by drop, you can fill up a bucket!
The Acorns app is a paid service, but it is only $1 per month. And if you happen to be a student with a valid “.edu” email, then you get the service for free. If you ever thought that you never invest because you did not have enough money, Acorns will completely change that perspective.