Gone are the days of receiving bank statements in the mail, having to drive to the ATM to check your balance and writing checks at the grocery store checkout. Today’s consumers have access to anything and everything related to their money right at their fingertips.
Using Banking Websites
Any respectable banking institution has a website and a mobile app where one can login and view account information, make payments and transfers, even deposit checks electronically. Of course, these modern conveniences do come with their set of issues and concerns and having to remember multiple user names and passwords for each of your online accounts is one of them. Plus, you still don’t get to see the full picture of your finances by simply checking each of your accounts individually. Thankfully, now there is an entirely new set of tools to help you see the true bottom line!
Free Money Management Apps
Mint, Personal Capital and Empower are just a few of the web-based personal financial management services available to consumers free of charge. They allow you to see all your accounts in one place, including checking, savings, credit cards, investments, mortgage, bank and car loans, even your Paypal balance. You can also add such items as real estate property and vehicles you own. Doing so will allow you to see your true net worth by subtracting all your debts from your assets.
Budgeting Made Easy
Another great feature offered by these money management tools is budgeting. The tools come with some preset budget amounts and categories such as groceries, restaurants, coffee shops, gas, clothing, and entertainment, but the feature is entirely customizable. You can create new categories and adjust the budget amounts allocated to each category. Easy-to-read graphs show you at a glance where you are spending-wise compared to the preset budget for the month. Other useful charts highlight your credit card vs. cash ratio, and overall income vs. spending for the month.
The apps will also remind you of upcoming bill due dates, and allow you to set up other types of notifications that you may be interested in receiving. You may also see tailored offers sprinkled amongst your financial information, and even though they may become annoying at times, keep in mind that advertising is what feeds the developers of these money management services and allow them to offer the tools free of charge. Additionally, you may actually find some of these offers useful – for example I learned about Stash, which is a great investment tool, through an offer in my Mint app.
Setting Up Your Money Management Service
The initial set up of the tool would require a little bit of extra effort as you will need to add all your accounts by providing the name of the bank or financial institution, and the corresponding user name and password. These login details get saved however, so going forward you will only need to remember the password for the tool. This is one of the best aspects of utilizing a money management service.
While Mint offers both a web-based and a mobile app version, other tools such as Empower exist solely as apps for your smart phone. Keep this in mind when choosing the money management tool that would best fit your financial goals and lifestyle.