According to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2013 report, “Financial Capability in the United States,” 19 percent of Americans spend more money than they earn. The FINRA Foundation’s State-by-State Financial Capability Survey found that 56 percent of Americans don’t have enough money saved for three months of expenses in a financial emergency, and the same survey found that a mere 41 percent of Americans spend less than what they earn.
Clearly, sound personal finance principles present a major challenge for many Americans — but with the help of these five apps, you can take responsibility for your financial situation and work toward your long-term goals.
Mint is a popular personal finance app that’s available for both Android and iPhone. As long as you have an Internet connection, Mint can bring you a real-time overview of your bank and other account balances. It will help you classify transactions into different budget categories, many of them based on their similarity to other transactions previously classified under the same category, for no-fuss penny-saving. It will let you know when you’re about to go over budget, or when a bill is due. However, you do need to create an account online at Mint.com, and since the app connects to your bank accounts, there’s a risk of identity theft.
For a simple budgeting app that doesn’t put your personal information at risk, Mathew Pryor of Sound Mind Investing recommends Ace Budget. This is a manual-entry app — it doesn’t connect or sync with your bank accounts, which protects your privacy. However, there’s a drawback: you have to enter all the information by hand on your phone or you can import data from your PC.
Budgeting isn’t the only thing personal finance apps can help with. You also get crucial information and assistance if you’ve lost your wallet or purse or if you think you’ve been targeted by identity thieves. The LifeLock app tracks debit and credit card transactions, sends fraud alerts, allows you to report lost or stolen cards, and comes with $1 million of identity theft coverage.
Have you ever wondered what funds your friends, family and neighbors are investing in? Openfolio is a new app for iPhone that lets you see how other people in your social network are allocating their portfolios. However, Openfolio doesn’t allow you to buy or sell stocks or manage your own portfolio; instead, it gives you the chance to share investing tips and strategies with the people you trust.
Like Mint, the SigFig app requires users to open an account on the corresponding website. SigFig syncs with more than 90 different brokerage firms to track your portfolio’s performance across your IRAs, 401(k), and stock market holdings. Easy-to-read charts show you how your assets are allocated and calculate your risk level. Best of all, SigFig checks for over-charges, hidden fees, and poorly-performing holdings on a weekly basis, and notifies you of acceptable alternatives.
Smartphones have made managing your personal finances easier than ever. Use these five apps to stick to a budget, manage your investments, and protect yourself from fraud.