When a piece of plastic transformed into a debit card — and a way to get cash at any time, day or night — people were excited. Rushing to the bank before closing time to withdraw money was no longer necessary. When online banking was made possible, people sighed with relief. Statements and balances could be monitored from the couch, the car, or anyplace Internet was available.
Then, financial apps for the phone and tablet were created, and the simplified life was further simplified. Apps such as Square, Mint, and Google Wallet aren’t just fun to use; they finally make it convenient to take care of life’s big financial needs. Our money — whether we like to think of it this way or not — runs our lives. If we don’t understand how to manage it, or can’t easily do so, our lives are negatively affected. With these digital tools, monitoring your expenses is no longer troublesome or difficult.
Digital Tools for Everyday Use
Banking used to mean incurring fees and compulsively balancing a checkbook. Now, this can be done online from any device. On-the-go banking is helpful not only for frequent travelers, but also for those just wanting to be more responsible with money. These digital finance tools can help you.
Square is a free app and accompanying plug-in device that allows a user to take payments from credit cards using mobile devices. It sounds tailored to businesses — retail or food services use it a lot — but it works just as well in everyday life. Square can be used to accept personal payments for anything. Having this option ensures that users can make payments even when they don’t have cash. Square also has the ability to send email receipts, which makes documentation easy for both parties.
Useful when: You want to be paid for goods and services.
2. USA Today’s Portfolio Tracker
This tool lets you not only keep track of your typical bank accounts, but it also helps you stay on top of your stocks, IRA funds, and 401(k) accounts. Its consolidation factor is what makes it special. Instead of logging onto separate websites or accounts to manage each one, you can use the Portfolio Tracker to monitor it all at once. It provides analytics for each account, as well as advice from experts on money management.
Useful when: You want to check how your penny stocks are paying off.
Sticking to a budget can be difficult. Mint keeps you in line by consolidating your financial accounts in one place. The service reminds you of your balances in each account and shows what you’re spending the most money on (food, services, gas). Its comprehensive overview can help you reach financial goals through budgeting and tracking.
Useful when: You want to look at overall finances in order to save for a big purchase or understand where you spend your money.
2. Google Wallet
Thanks to Google Wallet, money transfers can be made without check documentation. It allows users to transfer funds to friends, family, and retailers through Google accounts. The process is similar to that of PayPal’s: Users purchase items or transfer money through email, and different cards can be linked to each account. Purchases can be made over the phone, too, which makes this tool a staple for anyone who uses many of Google’s services.
Useful when: You need to send emergency money to a family member or purchase an app in the Google Play Store.
Digital Financing — the Smart Way
While all of these tools offer a wide variety of benefits, most people hesitate before putting their private banking information online. Your money and information is private, and it should stay that way if you follow a few simple tips.
- Use antivirus and spyware software. McAfee and Norton Antivirus are two popular options that protect computers from cyber dangers.
- Only use complicated passwords involving special characters and capital letters, and never use the same password for more than one account.
- Learn about the website and company you’re giving your information to. Double-check the URL to make sure it offers a secure connection.
Take Charge of Your Finances
All of this information at our fingertips has changed the financial market in a positive way, giving consumers numerous choices when it comes to managing money. It’s instant, simple, portable, and normally can be done without a fee. This frees consumers from traditional banking practices. With this, consumers are able to see the big picture when it comes to their financial health, and if the view isn’t as rosy as they would like, they can seek out professional help to get back on track. It is all about having the knowledge and confidence to make smart choices — and it can all begin with a simple click of your mouse.
Daniel Wesley is the founder and CEO of CreditLoan.com, a website that educates consumers about various personal finance issues. Among some of the topics discussed are bad credit loans, credit cards, auto financing, and many other credit and financial help issues. Connect with Daniel on Twitter and Google+.
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