Worthy Personal Finance Apps
by Jeremy Cleland
Most people get inspired to create a budget or financial plan for their future because they have a goal. That goal can be to get out of debt, stretch your monthly paycheck to make the bills, adjust to a lifestyle change, save for a vacation or send your kid to college some day.
Creating a budget, however, is usually not the hardest part — it’s sticking to the plan that’s challenging for most. And this is where a personal finance app on your smartphone or tablet can help.
“I’m recently divorced and watching my finances way closer; I also have my own business and I need to track my expenses there as well,” says Caroline Rustigian Bruderer, a mom of two and president and founder of K-Line & Company, a full-service public relations and social marketing firm.
Bruderer currently uses the app Mint because she says it’s easy to navigate. “I need to be as smart with my money as possible, and these apps offer you instant knowledge about where your money is. For example, right now I watch my gas spending like a hawk using the app because gas prices vary so much.”
If you want to keep a closer eye on your money and financial goals, here are three apps to consider for your Android or iOS smartphone:
Mint was created by Intuit (maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks) and lets you set monthly or annual expense budgets and goals.
The app pulls in your bank, credit card and investment accounts to instantly track your expenses and goal attainment. Plus, Mint makes it easy to categorize expenses in preparation for tax time.
You can pay your bills directly from Mint, and it sends you alerts when you’re over budget.
Named the “best financial app of 2014” by the Google Play store, BillGuard provides similar expense-tracking features to Mint but also focuses on monitoring your credit.
Cost: Free for one financial account. There is a monthly fee of $2.99 for four accounts and credit monitoring from one agency, or $6.99 for unlimited accounts and monitoring from all three main credit-reporting agencies.
You’ll be notified if anyone tries to get a credit card, bank account or loan with your identity, and the app will notify you immediately if you’ve shopped at a merchant that suffered a reported data breach. For the $6.99 per month fee, BillGuard also will restore your bank, credit cards and identity if your wallet is lost, and provides $1 million in ID-theft insurance.
You can follow your cash flow and budget via this app, but you can also get an analytical view into all of your investment positions. Personal capital can track your holdings, spending, portfolio performance, investment allocations, sector weighting, your current balance, and even the value of your home.
Keep an eye on your Net Worth, and you can use Personal Capital’s app on your smart watches, too.
Jeremy Cleland has been a spokesperson for several Silicon Valley startups, like Tesla Motors, and spearheaded global stories about technology featured in media like Vice, Time magazine, Forbes and Wired.com. He’s also the dad to a 5-year-old who is already more tech-savvy than him.
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