Smartphones and mobile devices play an increasingly vital role in our economy. Most major U.S. banks offer some type of free utility that allows customers to check their accounts while on the go. Retailers are phasing out the traditional cash register in favor of payment processing and point-of-sale systems such as Square. Digital wallets like Venmo have brought seamless, PayPal-like functionality to borrowing and lending between friends.
Micro-investing apps like Acorns allow users to round up on purchases made via linked credit cards and then deposit the “spare change” difference to a special ETF portfolio. The Apple iOS even includes a simple stock tracker as standard software. Further, according to “The Best New Personal Finance Apps and Sites” published in Forbes, the 77 million Millennials — defined as 18 to 35-year-olds — living in the United States routinely rely on mobile apps for making transactions both large and small.
Regardless of your age, you can take advantage of some robust (and rather attractive) tools that developers have created to help you more conveniently monitor your spending, stick to a budget and save for your future. But these five apps aren’t about pinching pennies. They’re designed to teach you how to apply the same principles of financial management practiced by the business world’s thought leaders to your own daily decision-making.
Intuit is a trusted name in personal finance. They are the authors of popular and enduring software programs like TurboTax and QuickBooks. Mint is Intuit’s entry into the world of mobile money management apps. Mint aggregates and integrates all your relevant financial data: savings and checking accounts, credit cards, mortgage (or rent), utility bills and even your retirement investments. Mint users are thus able to access their complete financial profile at any time within a single interface — that is, without juggling multiple logins and passwords. Mint can also help you automate regular payments, avoiding late fees, service charges and other small costs that can quickly add up. The app will even give you feedback and tips on how to boost your credit score.
Wally is an expense tracking and budgeting app that relies upon your device’s location services to help you log purchases. Wally can automatically identify whether you are at the grocery store, your favorite coffee shop or the home improvement store. Simply enter the amount spent and Wally will categorize your purchase and make instant adjustments to your budget. You can also enter paper receipts into Wally by snapping a picture of them with your device’s built-in camera. Savings goals are also an integral feature of Wally’s budgeting functionality, and you can even set the application to send you notifications on your progress toward meeting those goals. Wally’s algorithm, like Mint’s, looks for patterns in your transactions, uncovers habits you may not be aware of, and offers tailored suggestions on how you might modify your financial behavior.
The envelope system is a tried and true approach to home budgeting. Income is literally divided into separate envelopes, each labeled with a monthly expense category. Purchases in that category are only to be made from the appropriate envelope. However, many households no longer rely on paper paychecks that can be cashed and allocated in this way. Mvelopes, however, brings the principles of the envelope system into the digital age. You can link both bank and credit card accounts as well as enter transactions manually. Mvelopes’ envelope categories are also fully customizable. The key to successful budgeting is to plan ahead, not to correct after the fact. Mvelopes provides 24/7 access to the various balances in your home budget account, thus helping you to better understand your buying decisions. Finally, if you’d like to work with a budget advisor, Mvelopes offers tiered services. For a fee, Mvelopes offers financial coaching, complete with live, in-app chat services and one-on-one monthly sessions to help you stay motivated, accountable and living within your means.
Kapitall Pocket (Android/iOS)
The stock market can be quite volatile, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of day-trading. Kapitall Pocket is an app developed, in part, by video game designer Gaspard de Dreuzy. The app started out as a stock trading simulator. Install Kapitall and you’ll be given $10,000 in virtual funds (Koins) to experiment with in a test market (Kapitall’s Playground). Kapital’s interface is also game-like. To add investments, you drag and drop the logos of the businesses in which you’d like to invest into your e-portfolio. You can also compete and collaborate with friends, sharing tips and insights via your linked social media profiles. Once you are more comfortable with your research skills and acting on your hunches, you can transition to a real investment account with Kapitall, which has since evolved into an actual brokerage firm. The app is free to download, and the Playground free to use, but if you do choose to make a real investment, Kapitall charges $7.95 per trade.
iBillionaire takes a very different approach to investment strategy. It gathers financial information from a variety of sources and synthesizes it to determine how the stock market’s most successful private investors, such as Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn, are navigating the current financial landscape. iBillionaire then translates this data into a portfolio into which you can automatically deposit small weekly amounts. In essence, your investment strategy will match that of the billionaire of your choice. If you prefer, you can choose from other high-yield portfolios, such as high-tech, socially responsible businesses, or real estate, all depending on whether you want to prioritize growth, income or value with your investment strategy. iBillionaire also provides access to news and other research materials so you can track performance and make the same kinds of adjustments as your billionaire role models.
Learn more about how you can further your financial education by enrolling in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s online MBA program.