Technology plays an important
role in different areas of our lives. Have you ever thought that a device you
may have in your pocket or on your desk at home could help you budget wiser,
save more and invest better? That’s right: as long as you have the proper app
installed, you can start saving $500 a month and making smarter financial
There are hundreds of finance-related apps out there, but not all of them are created equal. Some are hard to understand or take too much time and effort to learn or use. We all know that time is money. Spending a lot of time to try and save a few bucks just doesn’t make sense, does it? Just read the tips below and get the app that’s proven effective and works best for your situation.
1. Budget Hard
We always think that if only we made more money at work, we would for sure be able to save more for all sorts of fun things. We get the raise and a few months later realize that our savings account hasn’t grown a bit. What gives? The main reason for this is that most of us tend to start spending more money when we start making more. The size of your paycheck doesn’t really matter unless you make a conscious effort to tame your spending and work on saving. This is where budgeting comes in.
A couple of budgeting apps we could recommend - Mint and You Need a Budget - are easy to use and can help you track your expenses the simple way. With their help you can easily see what you are spending under each category and pinpoint where you could make some cuts.
If for instance you are spending about $650 on groceries every month, just having a budgeting app show you where that money goes may be enough to get you to cut wasteful expenses. If you set a smaller budget for groceries (say $450 a month), you may have to forego that afternoon latte you grab when you come into the supermarket, get less expensive cuts of meat or better manage the food you already have in your fridge or pantry. It’s all worth it in the end, as your savings account may grow by $200 every month thanks to these measures.
If you are a hopeless overspender, then you may be better off using a zero-based budget. With this type of budget you put every dollar to work. You try to get to a $0 baseline meaning that you end up with all bills paid and all investment and saving goals met. If you are a free spirit and don’t like to be limited too much, you may leave yourself some room for unforeseen fun expenses. Only you are in control and know what’s best for you.
As long as you designate a category for your savings, you will be able to put money away first thing after you get each paycheck. An average working adult is able to save $300 to $500 a month. Do you think you could do that too? Coin Keeper or Mvelopes (both work on iOS and Android) can help. They offer virtual “envelopes” that work perfect for zero-based budgeting. You can use one of these apps to set a certain percentage (say 10%) of your paycheck for savings, then manage your day-to-day spending to make sure the savings “envelope” remains intact.
2. Watch Your Accounts
Prosper Daily (an app available for iOS and Android) offers an easy way to monitor your bank account and receive alerts whenever there is a charge that looks suspicious. You can sync the app with all your bank accounts and breathe easy knowing that fraud won’t slip by you unnoticed.
While your credit cards are probably safe with the extraordinary effort credit card companies make to monitor and ensure account security, your bank account is still vulnerable to all sorts of fraud. If someone makes an unauthorized charge to your bank account or drains it completely, it may take a couple of weeks or even longer for the stolen money to be returned to your account.
The Prosper Daily app doesn’t just add an extra layer of security for your accounts, but it also helps you budget too. It motivates you by encouraging you to try and beat last month’s result, so you may end up saving more every month.
3. Check Your Advisor Fees
How can you save enough for retirement or major expenses when there are tons of other things you need to pay for every month? Most employer retirement accounts get set up, as well as managed through the employer, so employees may not even know what’s happening with the account, how much money they have in there, etc.
Personal Capital (an app for iOS or Android) resolves this problem by working as a combination of a budgeting app and an analytical tool for your retirement account. You can always stay in control of your account, get real-time info on the balance and always know the fees you pay your advisors.
Since advisors are paid a percentage, just a half-percent difference in fees can make a big difference over the course of the years to your account balance. The app can help you check if other options are available and may help you save as much as $100,000 or even more over 40 years. Personal Capital is very easy to set up on your account and you can almost immediately see the savings start adding up in your 401K account.
4. Keep Sending Money into Your Savings
The best strategy is to think about saving all the time and not just at the end of the month. If you think you can save what’s left of your paycheck at the end of the month, you won’t ever save anything, because there simply won’t be anything left to save. Two more apps that can help take the stress out of saving are Acorns (works on both iOS and Android) and Digit (iOS only).
The apps quietly work in the background saving you money while you live your life. You can set up scheduled deposits or round up your buys to put a few cents into your savings account every time. Let’s say you make 60 purchases every month and the average amount that gets rounded up is 50 cents. That puts $30 into your account on a monthly basis without you even noticing it. Just that will put an extra $360 into your account every year, if you stick with it.
If you can find some other little things you could give up, such as a daily latte or a pretzel you get every weekend at the mall, set up the amount you used to spend on it to be taken out of your account and put into savings. These little amounts add up to a significant sum over the year.
5. Get Some Tips and Motivation Every Week
To prevent burning out, seek motivation from financial gurus. That lets you improve your knowledge and helps you work more effectively toward meeting your savings goals. You may look up some popular finance advice podcasts online and listen to at least 15 minutes daily. Do it on your way to work, as you are getting ready for the day or when working out.
Saving money is something most of us really want, but often don’t know how to do. Having the right tools at hand can make all the difference, so why not try at least some of them and start boosting your savings today.
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