By Janene Mascarella
With so many mobile apps available, you may have already tried managing elements of your financial life the way you live it: On the go. If you’re using your bank’s app, perhaps you’re wondering how you ever lived without the ability to deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills and check balances literally at your fingertips.
If you’re not yet using your bank’s app, that’s a great place to start. From there, a variety of tools can help you manage your finances while mobile.
Apps That Aggregate
Having on-demand access to financial information is the new norm, and being able to collect data from multiple accounts is key to providing a complete picture of your financial situation, says Jeff Rossi, a registered independent investment advisor in central New Jersey.
“A financial account aggregation app like ones from Mint, Yodlee and Quicken” lets you see financial information on a mobile device, says Rossi. “No more having to go home to check something, or worse, waiting for a statement in the mail.”
Joseph Howard, senior marketing manager at Masslight, a mobile and web app development agency in Washington, D.C., says he’s a fan of Mint.
“I do most of my spending using credit cards, and the Mint app allows me to track everything throughout the month, categorize it all and see exactly what my spending patterns look like,” Howard says.
He also praises the ability of mobile tools to let you know when something unusual happens. “I can also set up alerts, so if I’m spending more than I budgeted on something, I’ll get a text, email or push notification.”
Budgeting at Your Fingertips
If you’d like help monitoring your spending, you have something in common with Erin Konrad. The content developer says the Toshl app has changed the way she manages her money.
“It helps me track all my expenses (in addition to my monthly income), so I can better balance my budget,” she says. “I’ve been able to eliminate some purchases I didn’t actually need to be making, like frequent coffee trips.”
Another option is Qapital, says Lark Ismail, owner of a virtual assistance and consulting company in Los Angeles. Ismail says it has helped her save up to pay off debt, as well as budget for her wedding and a new laptop.
“It’s helpful to have a visual of how much progress I’ve made,” she says.
Click Into Smarter Rewards
When it comes to progress, racking up rewards for responsible spending can be a good thing. But how can you keep track of those points and dollars? Finance expert Stefanie O’Connel, founder of TheBrokeAndBeautifulLife.com, says she’s a fan of RewardSummit.
“With so many different cards offering different perks … it can be hard to know which one to use to maximize your rewards on each purchase,” she says. “The RewardSummit app gives you top recommendations based on what credit cards you have and what purchases you’re making.”
And if you want to spend those rewards wisely by getting the best deal, there’s an app for that, too. “I use RedLaser to compare prices,” says O’Connel. “It lets you scan barcodes and shows you if the item is available for less either online or at a store nearby.”
Always know where your money is and where it is going.
Financial Finesse in Your Hands
No matter which apps you choose, experts say you can’t afford not to take advantage of technology.
“Rule number one of financial literacy is to always be responsible for your own money,” says finance expert Mary Johnson. “Always know where your money is and where it is going. And never rely on someone else to manage your money for you, even if it’s a family member or a significant other.” It’s also essential to protect your personal financial information and be wary about sharing it.
One of the best tools for making smarter financial decisions, says Johnson, is the smartphone right in your hand.
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Janene Mascarella is a New York-based lifestyle journalist. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, CNN, Cosmopolitan, BELLA, Parade, Self, Glamour, Health, Parenting, Working Mother, USA TODAY and more.