Every so often I provide some kind of reference to the fact that DH and I retired at a young age. There was a time in our lives that we were daunted by debt. It took some financial discipline to get on the right track but what we learned has made a difference in our lives.
Originally, we kept our finances in Microsoft Money then eventually switched to Quicken which we still use daily. A 2013 survey by Quicken revealed that two out of three surveyed smartphone users said being able to check their finances gave them them peace of mind. I didn’t take that survey but I absolutely would agree. Having access to either via online banking or being able to check credit cards can be very reassuring, especially if you’re in the market for a major purchase.
Smart phones weren’t around when we started getting our finances in line. Our primary management tools remains desktop software, however there are many financial smart phone and tablet apps available for tracking spending, mobile banking, investing, tax preparation and tracking work expenses. For someone just beginning to put their financial affairs in order, there are a multitude of options: Utilizing one (or all) of these different methods can help you gain control of your finances. While it may seem overwhelming at first, once you get the hang of it you’ll be surprised how much impact it will have on your life! If you aren’t sure how to use your phone or tablet to implement these useful financial tools, consider taking a Device Workshop from U.S. Cellular.
Track your spending: One of the most widely known services is Mint.com which allows you to maintain detailed financial records via the app or the website. It runs on the same premise as desktop software such as Quicken, connecting your accounts so users don’t have to check each one individually. Mint.com gives users the ability to see an overall snapshot of their finances – including budgets – while providing alerts for upcoming bills, low account balances and unusual activities on accounts. What we realized by tracking our spending is that all those $1 here and $1 there cups of coffee, candy bars and trips through the drive up for fries really added up. While $1 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, if you make regular purchases of anything that isn’t essential, you might be surprised by how quickly those dollars add up.
Mobile Banking is another way to stay in touch with your finances and is offered by many financial institutions. With access to the 4G LTE network, some apps allow you to deposit a check simply by snapping a photo with your smart phone’s camera!
Don’t forget about your investments: In addition to streaming financial shows such as MSNBC, stay in tune with the stock market with apps like Yahoo! Finance. Add or remove stocks from your watch lists, check your portfolios or let the stock tickers scroll. Our 11 year old daughter is fascinated by Yahoo! Finance and watches her favorite stocks on her phone during her stock-market focused extended learning class at school. Being educated about your finances – even if they are being maintained by a brokerage – is essential to your financial well-being. Nobody has as much interest in your investments as you. You’re the one with the most to lose!
Track work expenses and Prepare for Taxes: Apps like TaxCaster by Turbo Tax and Expensify help you track mileage, log expenses, estimate taxes and create reports all while on the go.
While some apps are most effective and utilized by a smart phone, a tablet works best for other activities such as drilling through reports. Using the 4G LTE network coupled with the tethering features on your phone, you can hop online on your tablet even when you’re away from home!
Speaking of tethering (and using data), we were thrilled recently when we received notification that our data plan was upgraded at no charge. When I inquired about it (yes, I had a “what’s the catch?” tone in my voice) I was told by U.S. Cellular reps that they just want existing customers to have the same great services being offered to new customers. Our internet at home is through the local cable company. One complaint we’ve had each time our contract came up for renewal is that those awesome advertised deals are only available to new customers and existing customers end up paying more despite their loyalty. U.S. Cellular sees the value in their existing customer base! (Yay!)
In case you’re wondering, here’s the information they sent me:
“At U.S. Cellular we are always looking for more ways to give our customers a great wireless experience. We made our Shared Data plans even more attractive for both new and existing customers by providing additional data on some of the plans.”
Being in tune and managing finances can make a huge difference in your spending habit and have a positive influence on decisions you make. Having the ability to track and monitor that information while on the go provides peace of mind!
Are your finances healthy? If not, are you utilizing any of the financial tools or apps mentioned? Do you know where your money is going?