Most people have to work hard at keeping track of bills and finances. But now there are a lot of apps out there that can help make budgeting, as easy as texting your friends.
Ashley Bona found herself in a boatload of financial trouble when she graduated from college.
She had $70,000 in student loans and no clue how to manage them. So she found a high-tech way to fix that, mobile apps that break down her spending into categories and alert her to overspending.
"I set a budget whether it be monthly or weekly of how much I want to spend on each category. It will send me weekly alerts. It helps me keep track of…where my money's going," says Ashley.
Personal financial management apps pull data daily from your banks, credit cards, even your 401Ks.
Some apps feature a snapshot of your financial standing, highlighting what bills need to be paid, where you spent that last $50, and how your savings plan is coming along.
"It gives you that good picture of what your money looks like without the tedious effort associated with balancing your checkbook and comparing all of your statements," says financial advisor Julie Conroy.
Some apps can help you avoid overdraft and late fees, others offer ways to pay down a balance quicker. No matter what app you choose, checking your accounts regularly will alert you to any fraudulent behavior so you can immediately report it to your financial institution.
"The safety that's involved with mobile banking and digital monitoring is far superior to waiting for the statement to come to the mailbox and looking at it 30 days down the line," says Mark Schwanhausser of Javelin Strategy and Research.
But as with any time you share personal data like financial information and passwords you've got to be careful.
Julie Conroy says "all personal financial management applications were not created equal, so you do kind of have to know who you are trusting your personal data with"
As for Ashley, she did her research and says she's happy with the results.
But she has one regret, "I wish I would have discovered these apps when I was in college and running around spending all my money."
Ashley uses mint.com as her go-to personal-finance app...but there are plenty of others to consider.
According to our experts: personalcapital.com, learnvest.com, check.com and betterhaves.com are a few to consider. And here's a tip about apps: download them directly from the financial management website rather than an app store. Sometimes the bad guys post fake ones.
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