Upgrade Your Finances: Tips, Tools & Technology
Hi Money Masters!
I remember a time before smart phones existed; before the internet was even a real word; when retailer profits relied solely on the customers who walked into the store. But, as the old adage goes, “Times, they are a changing.” The 21st century has been the catapult for so many innovations, especially in the area of personal finance.
These innovations have the potential to really help you keep your finances on track with ease and convenience. For some, it may be difficult and even a little scary to start using new technology and systems, but let’s explore a few so you can give your finances a 21st century upgrade!
THINGS YOU’LL NEED…
If you still rely on paper bank statements and bills snail-mailed to you, a good place to start is with opting in to go “paperless”.
Paperless statements or e-statements (electronic) from your bank and bills from utility providers can easily be requested from those establishments via a quick phone call. You can access them via email or logging in to an online account from that bank or company.
Budgeting can be made easier with a document or spreadsheet that is editable, as a budget is fluid and requires tweaks and changes here and there.
Excel is a spreadsheet program used on a PC or tablet. It may take a little time and practice to get a handle on all its capabilities. The great feature of Excel is that you can easily access the internet within the program with a click of the mouse.
Example: Your spreadsheet will have all your expenses and income items charted, so if you need to check your bank statement (which you now receive electronically 😉 from Chase you can put a link to your online account. You click the word “Chase” and the website pops right up!
Adjusted to the Water
Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet and are feeling pretty confident about your newfound abilities, you can take the plunge into the next step.
Online banking is available from just about any financial institution. You will be able to view past statements and cleared checks, search for and organize specific transactions, and even pay money directly to someone you might owe. This can be done via the bank’s website or mobile app.
Automate your bills and savings by setting regular, electronic payments (expenses) and direct deposits (income).
Modern Money Maven
In the last 20 years or so, developments in the mobile phone industry have completely revolutionized the way the world works. The invention of “apps” allows people to perform everyday tasks with the click of a button or voice command. Have you heard the Apple slogan “There’s an app for that”? Well, there really is an app (“application”) for just about anything you can imagine. And, you guessed it, money! Here are some of the top-rated apps for personal finance…
Mint, by Intuit, is one of the most well-known internet/smart phone-based budgeting apps. It’s easy to use and simple in design. You enter your banking, credit and investment account information and the app tracks it for you. It is also compatible with TurboTax. Oh, and it’s FREE!
Digit is a savings app that I, personally, use and recommend. With your information, the app analyzes your spending and automatically saves a certain amount for you, an amount formulated based on the app’s analysis. It’s goal: to make saving effortless for you. There’s a 30-day free trial and then it’s $2.99/month.