If you’re still managing your money without optimizing the digital advancements available, you may be missing out on resources and tools that can make that process easier, more efficient — and sometimes cheaper.
While those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy may be reluctant to try such resources, once they discover how easy they are they may wonder what took them so long. The numbers back that up: These days, two-thirds of U.S. consumers have at least one financial app, 70 percent check their bank’s mobile app at least weekly and 16 percent check it daily, according to a Bankrate survey.
“Learning how to manage money is an imperative life skill, and there have never been more accessible resources to teach people how to manage money, invest and plan for the future,” notes Frances Bridges in Forbes. “Knowing the fundamentals of finance — how to manage loans, debt, budgets, mortgages, insurance, investing, etc. — will facilitate your future."
Here are some technology-enabled resources you may wish to try if you aren’t already using them.
- Direct deposit. Arranging for your employer to deposit funds directly in your account saves you trips to the bank and allows you to automatically divert money into savings.
- Free bill payment. Your financial institution may offer this digital service that involves automatically transferring funds to pay your bills, conveniently saving you from late fees and penalties. The service may enable you to make key purchases by credit card, building your credit history and giving you attractive cash-back or travel perks without the risk of exorbitant late fees or interest fees.
- Overdraft protection. Your credit union or bank may provide the service of automatically transferring funds from your savings account to your checking if you’re about to bounce a check.
- Financial apps. You may be amazed at the vast number of tools available to help you with anything from monitoring spending to categorizing expenses to investing to clipping coupons to tracking receipts. All it takes to find them is a little research. Examples include Mint for budgeting; Personal Capital for aggregating and tracking all your financial accounts in one easy-to-view location; Qapital for transferring money between various accounts; or Wally.me for organizing payoff plans for your debts.
- Online connections. These days, you can read and chat online about most any financial or money management issue. If you’re interested in learning more about a financial topic or comparing notes with others, just search online to find a blog, whitepaper, article, social media site or chat group pertaining to that subject.
- Robo-investments. Technology now allows for investing that requires minimal human intervention, so you can diversify your portfolio and still be relatively hands-off. It’s based on robotic analysis of which investments are likely to pay off, based on your risk preferences and targets for return. Examples of user-friendly robo-investment platforms include Wealthfront and Betterment.
- Free credit reports. Gone are the days when merely checking in on your credit rating could lower your credit score. Now, major reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are each required to provide you a full credit report every 12 months, and those requests won’t affect your rating at all.