September 24th, 2012

4 Must-Have Online and Mobile Tools for Self-Improvement Success

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**Welcome to Self-Improvement Month here on the Credit Karma Blog! Today’s guest post is contributed by Carrie.**

online tools

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

spending confession

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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10 Comments

  1. My bank has finally released an app that is compatible with android (even though it has larger market share than iOS) and boy has it made my life change for the better.

    Now when we go out for meals I can just instantly transfer my friends my portion of the meal – rather than getting stuck with the whole bill because I don’t have the right change.

    Ashley at 7:47 am on September 25, 2012
  2. To add on to #4, I love using Evernote, especially since you can access it via web and on your smartphone. I’ve used Google Docs templates for my budgeting, and I love having my bank’s app so I can quickly view my balance.

    Briana @ How's Married Life at 6:02 pm on September 25, 2012
  3. My favorite tactic is to stop for a moment and think how badly I need the things I’m about to purchase. If I’m buying clothes, I try to imagine how often I’ll wear that dress or blouse, and whether it’s really worth the money I’m about to spend on it. This technique has really helped me avoid unnecessary spending as a result of buying things I don’t really need. As to personal finance management, I prefer online tools over the desktop programs. Personally I’m using a money management tool called https://www.inexfinance.com/ because it’s simple, efficient and free.

    Sally at 2:56 am on September 26, 2012
  4. Yay, Evernote! I totally agree with you on that one, Briana.

    bethy at 12:22 pm on September 26, 2012
  5. It’s true – sometimes giving yourself time to think things through can really help. Thanks for sharing that tool, too!

    bethy at 12:23 pm on September 26, 2012
  6. My wife and I use ClearCheckbook as a check register. It’s a service with a smartphone app, so we can add to the check register and instantly see the changes on all fronts.

    Steven Brady at 5:35 am on October 11, 2012
  7. Thanks for sharing this resource, Steven! I’ll have to check it out. (No pun intended.)

    bethy at 11:43 am on October 11, 2012
  8. because of mobile banking apps, we do not have to queue. transactions can be done anywhere and anytime

    arul at 10:47 am on April 22, 2013

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