The days of balancing checkbooks, organizing receipt piles
and using a printing calculator to help manage your finances may all be a thing
of the past. Today, you can find numerous fintech applications that can help
simplify the process of everything from balancing your budget to monitoring
credit. In fact, new apps are being developed every day and statistics firm
Statista estimates that there will be nearly 200 billion apps downloaded this
year. Now if you are still using an abacus and have difficulty embracing
technological change - don't worry. Consider easing into it by using some of
the tools below. You might just be surprised at how much they can both simplify
and empower you financially.
One of the most useful ways to approach your personal
finances is to treat them as though they are not personal at all -- manage your
finances like a business. Do you know your household break-even point? Are you
aware of how much you are spending on housing, saving and servicing debt?
Unfortunately, most people are completely unaware of exactly how much is coming
in after taxes and how much is going out in the form of living expenses.
One of the most effective tools for shedding light on your
break-even point is your budget. While rolling up your sleeves and using an
Excell spreadsheet can work well for creating a budget, many budgeting apps
offer a simplified, more intuitive experience.
As one of the original budgeting apps, Mint has had plenty
of time to revise their platform to become one of the most popular budgeting
tools. Like most budgeting options, Mint allows you to aggregate your financial
information from credit cards, checking accounts and investments to get an
overview of your spending habits and net worth. You can create your own target
budget and Mint will make comparisons and alert you when you are over budget.
According to Keri Danielski, consumer finance expert for Mint and TurboTax,
"Mint can also automatically suggest budgets for users based on their
spending habits. The tool can then be personalized to fit the user's needs
whether that means making progress toward their savings goals or helping cut
down on spending in a certain category."
The tool can also make you aware of transactions that
are out of the ordinary - such as large purchases. In addition to the typical
data aggregation and budgeting, Mint can also provide you with your credit
score too. While both the mobile and online version are free, Mint uses
targeted adds to monetize their business so you will have to deal with some
advertising while using the tools. Mint is a solid overall choice for people
looking to learn more about their spending habits over time. Cost: Free
You Need A Budget
For households looking to get back to basics when it comes
to budgeting, YNAB may be a good choice. This app helps to educate and simply
the process of balancing your budget. In fact, YNAB helps to develop basic plans
to pay off debt and begin saving, making it an attractive option for those that
are trying to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. One of the better features is
that it doesn't allow you to budget money that you don't have to spend. While
this basic financial principle may seem obvious, many households struggle with
the concept of living within your means. (Below your means is even better).
There are even online courses with an instructor to help educate users on the
basics of budgeting. Cost: $6.99 after 34-day trial
your credit: Credit Karma
For consumers interested in educating
themselves on their credit, Credit Karma may be a great choice. The mobile and
online version provides complete credit reports from TransUnion and credit
scores from TransUnion and Equifax. Data is updated weekly and is free. (Like
most free app models, users will receive targeted advertising which includes
credit offers from Credit Karma partners.) Despite the advertising, Credit
Karma is a great tool for monitoring your report and users receive updates on
any changes to your report and score. They will also provide suggestions for
how to improve your credit score and identify what factors you may need to
focus on. You can even do a basic search to see if you were impacted by any
credit breaches or simulate the impact of financial decisions on your credit
score. Cost: Free
Credit Sesame is another online tool and
mobile app that offers access to your credit score. Their score is based upon
the Vantage Score 3.0 and your TransUnion credit file. Additionally, they
provide a credit report card to identify your areas that need work. While their
credit report card is not exactly a full credit report, it can still be helpful
for identifying strategies to improve your credit. When you sign up for the
site, users also receive $50,000 in identity theft insurance and fraud
resolution assistance at no cost. For users that require additional monitoring
and identity protection, Credit Sesame offers higher levels of service
including Advanced Credit, Pro Credit and Platinum Protection. Like Credit
Karma, Credit Sesame will make suggestions on credit offers that might benefit
you and relies heavily on advertising. Cost: Free for Basic Membership,
$9.95/month for Advanced, $15.95/month for Pro and $19.95 for Platinum.
Bottom line - Personal finance apps can
help simplify functions like budgeting and credit monitoring, ultimately
keeping consumers well informed on their financial position. Since everyone's
situation is unique, consider speaking to your legal, tax and financial adviser
to determine which apps are most appropriate for you.
here for the original article from NJ.