Financial institutions have been offering online banking for years, and it’s become very popular. From the comfort of your home, or anywhere you go, you can check balances, transfer between accounts, pay bills, and more. However, they’re not the only way to manage your money online. With the right tools, you can eliminate the need to speak with bankers and financial advisors, and take charge of your finances.
Image via Flickr by HloomHloom
Intuit, the maker of Quicken and TurboTax, has created a handy personal finance app called Mint. The app works on PC and Mac, as well as smartphones and tablets, and has a clean, intuitive interface. Connect all your bank accounts — checking, savings, credit cards, loans, investments, mortgages, etc.
Mint can track your spending and give insight into how well you’re controlling your finances. You can automate bill paying or get reminders when they’re due. Create a budget you can stick with, and check your credit score along with tips to improve it. The app can also give you suggestions for choosing and setting up a new online bank or credit account. Mint is free, but optional features cost extra.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
If budgeting is one of those chores you dread, YNAB could be your best friend. It’s based on the tried-and-true philosophy of giving each dollar a job and living on the money you earned a month ago, not the check you’ll get next Friday.
View your real expenses in a no-nonsense format, and stash money away for future needs like the insurance bill that gets paid every three months. If you slip up, there’s no nagging — just the help you need to change your budget and get back on track. YNAB works on PCs, smartphones, and tablets. It is free for the first 34 days, then it’s $6.99 per month.
It’s so easy to sign up for free trial subscriptions and monthly memberships, and so easy to forget you have them. You end up paying for things you don’t need, and those expenses add up! Truebill can help. When you connect your bank accounts, it tracks everything you pay for regularly and notifies you when there’s a recurring charge or a change in the amount you pay. Truebill can even alert you to fraudulent charges. The app can also help you cancel unwanted subscriptions or negotiate savings.
If you’ve been wanting to start an investment portfolio but find the process too confusing with all the acronyms and jargon, or you’re perhaps wary of hidden fees and strategies you don’t understand, Stash was made for you. Stash is a micro-investing platform that automates the investment process and lets you add as much or as little as you want to your portfolio.
Start with just $5 and buy fractional shares with zero transaction fees. You can choose investment themes based on your interests, such as renewable energy, technology, or social media. Stash also offers mini-lessons that teach you about investing. It costs $1 per month, plus 0.25% of your portfolio per year once it reaches $5,000.
Have you heard of the debt snowball technique? It’s a tried-and-true method of eliminating debts by paying the smallest one off first, then adding that payment amount to the next, until they’re all gone. Debt Free is an app for iPhone and iPad that helps you track your payoff schedule, tells you how much interest you’re paying on each loan, and offers a variety of helpful loan calculators.
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What’s the best way to teach the up-and-coming generation about money? On a smartphone/tablet app, of course! iAllowance tracks kids’ chores with push alerts and visual reminders that provide encouragement. You can set up automatic allowances to pay out at pre-set intervals. From there, kids can budget their money into a variety of categories, showing how much money is available to spend on their interests and helping them save for bigger expenses.
Using convenient, colorful apps to manage your finances helps you keep track and stay motivated to reach your financial goals. Whatever you need the most help with — investments, budgeting, bill paying, or kids’ allowances — there’s an app out there that makes it a lot easier.