Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting Financially App-y

In a recent post, we talked about how financial health can affect your over health. (If you’re not sure where you stand financially, here’s a quick quiz to help you figure it out.) While facing the reality of your financial health can be a little overwhelming, there are effective tools courtesy of the worldwide web and smart phone apps to make it a bit less daunting. Between helpful financial budget calculators and consumer credit report tracking, there are plenty of options to help you get on the right track and get financially happy.

Saving money in a piggybank

If you are just starting out with creating a budget, check out Mvelopes. It’s an in-depth budget creator that works on the basis of envelopes. You fill each virtual envelope after your payday with what you can/need to spend. As you buy your groceries and pay your bills, the money is automatically subtracted from your envelopes, regardless of whether you use your credit cards or bank accounts. They also offer a free version if you don’t have many financial obligations, or if you do, they have a reasonably priced paid version as well. They offer online access and smartphone apps.

Smartypig is a fun way to save for an upcoming vacation or purchase. Set up an account, select your goal, and Smartypig will automatically transfer funds from your bank account into an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing account. You can receive gift deposits from friends and family via Facebook, earn rewards via “cash boosts” and cash rewards, and when you’ve reached your goal, you can withdraw your funds plus interest. You can also withdraw your funds at any time without penalty. Smartypig offers both online and smartphone app access.

For an all-in-one money tracker, check out Mint. They offer a free money and spending tracking service that can show you your trends over time. Color-coded spreadsheets, easy to understand charts, and simple language allow you to grasp where you can allocate more funds, and where you can tighten up a bit more. Not sure where to go to save more money? Mint offers suggestions from their affiliates to help you save money, but never in an intrusive, obnoxious way. Mint offers a robust smartphone app and website for your financial needs.

Saving money

Credit Karma houses all your consumer credit report information in an easy-to-understand format. Not sure about your credit score? Credit Karma tracks that as well, for free, via soft pulls on your credit report (the kind that won’t drag your score down). They also offer credit report tracking. While they have monthly monitoring for a price, you can utilize their free services to find any flags on your credit report and find better choices for your credit and financial services, from credit cards to utility companies. They have apps for both smartphone platforms (Android and iPhone) and a website.

Becoming a financially-savvy spender doesn’t happen overnight, but using tools that help organize your money and debt help. Studies show that while financial stress has intense negative effects on our health, lessening the guilt and improving your financial health (even if it’s only opening a savings account) can turn that around. So why not give it a try? Let us know how you make out, and what tools work best for you!

Contributing Writer

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