September 24th, 2012
4 Must-Have Online and Mobile Tools for Self-Improvement Success
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Thanks to technology and the availability of online tools and resources, you can file your taxes in no time, pay a bill using your cell phone and even monitor your credit report while on the go.
There’s an unlimited amount of tools, apps and mobile shortcuts that help ensure your money is managed properly. By using these online tools you’ll be able to save time, avoid a lot of human accounting errors and be able to track your bank account goings on with ease.
With the “go anywhere” capability of mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to see if you’re on budget this month or pay your credit card bill before its past due. But enough about the benefits of these tools, here are some of the best online resources and apps for financial success.
1. Financial planning software
By far the most valuable tool I use to manage my finances is multi-purpose financial planning software. Depending on your preference you can become exclusively virtual with your money using Mint, PowerWallet or Outright. If a desktop program is more your thing, you can consider something like Quickbooks or You Need a Budget.
All of these programs do basically the same thing. They let you create a budget, track your debts, view your investments and keep tabs on the money coming in and the money going out. As long as you pick a tool you enjoy, you’re already making great strides towards improving your finances.
2. Your bank’s app and website
Even if you access your finances through one of the above mentioned tools, it’s still very important that you log-in to check your bank account regularly. I have multiple checking and savings accounts with different banks, so it can be time-consuming to keep track of all of them.
Thankfully, having access to their mobile apps makes it much easier and can save you valuable time in the event that someone gets a hold of your debit card or bank information. The sooner you react to this situation the sooner everything will be back to normal. You’ll also be able to save money by not paying late charges, penalties for being overdrawn and other fees.
3. Smartphone apps for mobile money management
As a self-professed technology geek, one of my spending weaknesses is that I’m electronics hoarder, which means I’m a huge fan of mobile apps. (See photo.) I especially like obsessing over smartphone apps that make managing your finances on the go easy and effective.
A few of my favorites include, the Credit Karma app for checking my credit score, ReadyForZero for motivating me to keep paying down debt and ImpulseSave to help me avoid impulse purchases and save money more money. Even if you have a specific financial need, you’re bound to find an app that suites your individual situation.
4. Digital versions of pen and paper
If you’re fond of the “old school” pen and paper method, you can still track your income and expenses using updated digital versions. You can use an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, to easily input your daily transactions from your checking account as well track your cash spending.
I actually use online planning software in combination with a Google spreadsheet. This way I not only view my budget for each month, but I can project my income and expenses for future months. This is especially helpful since some months will have extra expenses, like insurance or back-to-school expenses and some will have less.
What’s your favorite tactic, app or online tool for tracking your finances?
Carrie Smith is the writer behind the Careful Cents blog where she helps people get out of debt and find a career they love. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Lifehacker and Yahoo! Finance. You can find her on Twitter.
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