May 8th, 2013
How Technology is Changing the World of Personal Finance
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As a 90s child, I can just barely remember a time when technology wasn’t pervasive in my life. Technology has revolutionized how we communicate and connect, and the financial services industry has not been left behind.
You used to write checks, and now you can pay bills online. You used to get your bill in the mail. Now you can find out how much you owe by logging into your online account. With banks upgrading their mobile apps to video chatting through an ATM, technology continues to make it easier for us to control the state of our money.
Snap a Pic, Deposit Your Check
We kind of take this for granted nowadays. It wasn’t that long ago when your bank’s app hurt your eyes and you only used it to find the nearest ATM. Now, with most major banking apps, you can deposit a check into your account by snapping a photo of it with your phone’s camera. (How many times have you seen this Chase commercial?) If you just don’t feel like getting out of your pajamas or the nearest banking branch is an hour away, this can be a really convenient feature.
Concerned? It takes confidence to believe that your phone or tablet is secure enough to transmit your check to your bank. And what are you supposed to do with the physical check afterwards?
Video Chat with an ATM
Earlier this month, Bank of America announced that they would be introducing ATMs with video chat capabilities in Boston. If you have a question or need to withdraw cash in denominations other than $20, you can connect with a remote teller who can help you out face-to-face. Sort of. I initially found this news surprising, but banks in 20 states have already installed these types of machines, so maybe it’s not that crazy of an idea after all.
Concerned? I don’t know how comfortable I’d feel talking to an ATM if other people are around. Even if private information isn’t being shared, people may still overhear how much cash I want to withdraw and take advantage of that.
Don’t Lose the Paper Trail
I’ve never really organized my receipts. I’d usually keep them until the return period expired and then I’d toss them out. But when I began tracking my transactions online, I felt that my banking accounts lacked context. Sure I went to Safeway, but what did I buy there and why did it cost so much?
Instead of burrowing through a folder of paper, you can use an app to save, store, and search through your receipts. I’ve given apps like OneReceipt and Lemon Wallet a try. Through Lemon Wallet, you can manually input your receipt information to organize on your own. OneReceipt allows you to take a photo of your receipt and they will automatically process the information for you in a day or so. It’s less work than Lemon Wallet, but you do have to wait. Whatever app or website you try (you’ll find plenty), this ability to extract and digitize information from paper makes the world easier for shoppers everywhere.
Concerned? Throwing your receipts away is, well, kind of permanent. It’s a smart idea to keep physical copies of important receipts if you think you’ll need to present them down the line.
Monitor your Money 24/7
The idea of account monitoring in itself is pretty amazing. The fact that we can know at any time if a transaction has gone through or if we were accidentally overcharged puts a lot of the power in our own hands.
If you haven’t heard, Credit Karma has recently launched free account monitoring. This new feature helps you stay on top of your game. When you link your online banking accounts, you can sign up for account monitoring and be alerted to various events, like when your bill is due in the next 3-15 days or if your available credit falls below a certain amount. You can also keep up on your transactions, net cash flow, daily balances and more. You can truly cover all of your bases in one place. Log in today and connect your accounts.
Concerned? In this age of hacking, how can you trust that your information is safe at your bank or a third-party site? Could a stranger profit from stealing your username and password? Legitimate businesses will store your data in a secure system and protect themselves from breaches, so look for a TRUSTe certification before doing anything else.
We’re living in a tech-obsessed world right now. While we could be arguing about unplugging, I think it’s important to look at how much we can do now. These tools let you handle your money whenever you feel like it — and I think we can all get behind that.
Charmaine Ng is a contributor to the Credit Karma blog. Before joining Credit Karma in February 2013, she constantly had to explain that social media marketing was a real job. When she isn’t writing her way through life, you can find her reading about the latest in entertainment, watching television, and advocating for libraries. Her favorite social network is Twitter. Say “hi” @noodlemaine!
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