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Published on November 5, 2020

8 Best Finance Apps For Effective Budget Tracking And Planning

8 Best Finance Apps For Effective Budget Tracking And Planning

Looking for ways to effectively track, plan, and manage your budgeting? Well, there is a multitude of apps for that! Finance apps are the best options around for tracking and planning your budget and keeping you accountable. After all, using a pen and paper can make it cumbersome to track.

The apps that we’ve listed below do a ton of the heavy lifting for you and provide a wide array of functions to help you with your financial needs.

How to Pick a Suitable Finance App

When looking at some of the best finance apps that are ideal for budgeting, we found these particular features to be important. Keep these in mind when looking for ideal finance apps.

  • User interface – Navigation is key in any circumstances of an app. This is especially true for helpful apps like finance apps. You want to be using them regularly. As such, the interface should be simple to navigate.
  • Habit building – Finance tracking is all about building money habits, and apps have unique ways of building those habits. There is the app itself but features like push notifications are also essential in some circumstances.
  • Syncing – You should be able to connect your bank account to these finance apps, and that process should also be pretty easy to do, too.
  • Usefulness – The number of features that the app has should be relevant and make it something you want to check. Sure, some of these finance apps work in the background, but those on this list help significantly when you check them regularly.
  • Data presentation – The number of reports and analytical data is a core focus for these finance apps as well since it allows you to make sound financial decisions.

1. Best Finance App Overall – Mint

    If you’re looking for an overall quality finance app, Mint is the first that comes to mind. It’s one of the most well-known personal finance apps around and for good reason. It provides you with a complete financial picture all in one place.

    By connecting your debit and credit cards to your account, Mint will provide you with a list of transactions and break them into categories, showing you exactly where you are spending your money. You can also track billing and create a budget on the app to help you stay on track of your savings goals.

    A new feature that Mint rolled out recently is the ability to see your credit score. Through this feature, you can also see the factors that are contributing to your credit score. Beyond that, you can also track investments and schedule routine utility payments.

    Download Mint here.

    2. Best Finance App for Debt Management – YNAB

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      You Need A Budget (YNAB) is an app that is built on four rules:

      1. Give every dollar a job.
      2. Embrace true expenses.
      3. Roll with the punches.
      4. Age your money.

      Based on these four rules, the app will help you build a better budget while also allowing you to gain control of your spending. You can import transactions from your checking account and apply them to each budget category to get an accurate look at your spending.

      This app also provides detailed reports to show you your spending habits while you are striving to keep a balanced budget in the various categories. YNAB will also point out other spots that you can improve your spending.

      According to YNAB, the average user will save about $600 in the first two months and can save over $6,000 in the first year. It sounds promising for a debt management app.

      Download You Need A Budget here.

      3. Best Wealth Management App – Personal Capital

        Another solid choice is Personal Capital. It focuses on wealth management but also serves as another personal finance app. Through this app, you can manage assets and investments along with setting up a budget for everyday spending accounts.

        This service integrates with over 14,000 financial institutions, allowing you to link your bank account(s) directly to the app and through it. By linking your bank account to the app, you can track your spending, too.

        That said, the app really shines when you connect it to your investing accounts. By doing so, you have a convenient spot to track your portfolio by account, asset class, or individual security. The app can also show you opportunities to diversify, manage risk, and find any hidden fees that you could be paying.

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        You can also compare your own portfolio to the major market benchmarks to help you keep track of whether you’re on track to reaching your goals. You can also get financial advice from this app as the financial advisors here are registered and can provide you with advice tailored to your goals.

        Download Personal Capital here.

        4. Manage Your Subscriptions – Clarity Money

          One of the popular business models that companies are moving to these days is subscription-based. While this model does have its merits, one of the many problems that we face with this model as consumers is that we find ourselves subscribed to things we don’t need. Paying for a streaming service is nice, but many people often are subscribed to multiple streaming services.

          Because it’s so difficult to remember and even track all the subscriptions we’re paying for, this particular app can provide us with clarity. Clarity Money is all about bringing to light what you are paying for and providing you with a convenient way to cancel and throw away unused subscriptions you’re not using.

          Beyond removing unnecessary subscriptions, the app also looks at your spending behavior and offers suggestions for ways to improve your financial health. You can even make deposits to your savings account through this app.

          Download Clarity Money here.

          5. Best Bill Paying App – Prism

            If you’re looking for a convenient app that shows all of your bills and financial apps, this is the app for you. Prism takes pride in having 11,000 billers on this app. This is the highest amount of billers on bill-paying apps you can find. From billers like large banks to even small utility companies, chances are high that the company you’re paying for accepts this app.

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            In terms of actual function, you can add your bills to the app and the app will then automatically track it. It’ll send you date reminders to pay the bill as well so you won’t get hit with late payments. On top of that, you can schedule payments to be made the same day or several days in advance as well. Prism is a nice app that allows you to pay bills in one sitting without having to log in to several accounts.

            Download Prism here.

            6. Best Shared Expenses Management App – Spendee

              Many of these apps are focused on providing services to a single user. This is natural considering most of these apps are asking for your banking information. However, this is one of the few apps on here that allows multiple people to use it.

              With Spendee, the idea is to create shared wallets with your friends and family that you can then use to manage shared expenses for a household budget. You will need to get bank transactions for this to work, but that is fine. After that, the app will categorize all of the transactions and tally how you’re spending money every month.

              You’ll be able to add cash expenses manually as well for accuracy. Beyond those features, you’ve got bill tracker functionality to ensure you pay your bills and avoid late payments. There is also a budget component that will allow you to save and ensure you don’t overspend.

              Download Spendee here.

              7. Best Visuals on Finance App – Mobills

                Mobills is another bill management app that offers a great presentation of information. The app focuses on bill management and offers typical features you can find in these apps. These include categorizing your bills, paying them through the app, and setting up budgets to ensure you stick to them.

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                That being said, Mobills delivers these features remarkably. It presents you with charts that are completely interactive and can help you analyze your financial life. Also, moving bills to various categories is easy and smooth to do.

                Download Mobills here.

                8. Best Finance App for Budgeting Overall – EveryDollar

                  Dave Ramsey is a personal finance expert who urged people to follow a zero-based budget method. This method is the idea that every dollar serves a purpose in your budget. It’s this concept that has inspired the name of this app: EveryDollar.

                  With that in mind, the app provides a monthly expense tracker that you can connect your bank account to. This will take note of important transactions to ensure your spending is in check. You can even split expenses between multiple budget items. The tracker also provides you with an overview of how much money you’ve spent this month and what you’ve got left.

                  Staying true to the name, EveryDollar also has a money management aspect that will help you set up a money management plan. You’ve got access to money management experts who will guide you through financial planning.

                  Download EveryDollar here.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Many financial apps are available to help you achieve your financial goals. Each app has its own perks and benefits to consider. The nice thing about many of the apps on this list is that they have free trials that allow you to get a good feel of them before fully getting them.

                  More Finance Apps

                  Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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                  Published on November 3, 2020

                  How to Start Investing Without Taking Major Risks

                  How to Start Investing Without Taking Major Risks

                  No one loves risk. This is the uncontested truth about us human beings. We love gaining but never losing. This is not abnormal in any way because human beings exist to increase. Any form of loss is strongly resisted by our brains. This article will teach you how to start investing as a risk-averse individual and get optimal results.

                  All forms of investing are risky. The only thing we can do is minimize the risk, not eliminate it. This is why every investor needs to tolerate some level of risk. People who do not have any risk tolerance end up not investing at all.

                  It is important to note that not investing is very risky. This is the greatest risk you can take on your financial future. Being a financial consultant and advisor for years, I have realized that successful people avoid losing possible returns while average people avoid losing investment capital.

                  This means that successful people work hard to gain what they do not have while average people work hard not to lose what they have. As they say in sports, the best form of defense is offense. As successful people go for what they want, they find it easy to protect their investment.

                  How to Start Investing Without Taking Much Risk

                  As I have pointed out, you cannot eliminate the risk, you can only mitigate it. These 5 tips will help you secure the returns while taking minimal risks. It is possible.

                  1. Get Investment Intelligence

                  Investment intelligence refers to a set of information that helps you make prudent investment decisions. This is what the greatest investors like Warren Buffet and George Soros have. They can judge different opportunities from an information point of view. With that, they avoid making mistakes that could potentially cost them billions.

                  As Robert Kiyosaki points out in his book, Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant, investors can be placed in 5 levels:

                  • The “zero financial intelligence” level
                  • The “savers are losers” level
                  • The “I am too busy” level
                  • The “I am a professional” level
                  • The capitalist level

                  The first 3 levels, which consist of 90% of all investors, do not have sufficient information to make prudent investment decisions. Many would rather not invest, others will rather put their cash in a bank account, and the rest will choose to delegate the responsibility to someone else and entrust them to multiply their money.

                  The last two levels of investors have some investment knowledge. They end up becoming the most successful people in the world. As I usually say, making money is not the problem, multiplying it is.

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                  Therefore, knowing how to start investing without much risk starts with self-education. Read books and blog posts to learn how to reduce the risk involved while still getting acceptable returns. The more you learn, the more you earn. Getting more knowledge will help you look at the numbers and the facts as presented by the numbers.

                  2. Start Small

                  It is almost guaranteed that as a new investor, your first investment capital will be lost. This is because you do not have the right information and skills to make a return.

                  Even though you may have some basics, it takes practical experience and skills to become a successful investor. Therefore, it is prudent to start small. As you make returns and learn, you can increase your investment capital over time.

                  Do not borrow millions to make an initial investment. This is a grave error many people make. When the investment goes down, they are left heavily in bad debt. First, invest your savings and test your principles of investment. After you have gotten returns, you can now consider risking more and more capital.

                  3. Diversify

                  Diversification is usually the first answer given by all financial advisors when asked how to start investing by risk-averse people. This answer is correct. Diversification of your investment portfolio means investing in different asset classes to spread the risk.

                  There are 2 types of diversification:

                  • Inter-asset diversification: This is where you invest in assets from different industries. For example, you can invest in stocks and real estate. These are different asset classes.
                  • Intra- asset diversification: This is where you invest in the same asset class. For example, investing in stocks of different companies falls in this category.

                  Inter-asset diversification is more effective in mitigating risk because it cautions your finances from systemic risks that affect different individual industries. For example, some situations affect the real estate market only. Therefore, if all your assets are in this market, you will be highly affected. If you have diversified to stocks, businesses, precious metals, bonds, etc. you will not suffer major losses.

                  Diversification aims to have some assets bringing returns even if others make losses. This is a key secret when it comes to how to start investing while minimizing risk.

                  4. Do Your Due Diligence

                  Due diligence is different from getting investment intelligence. Getting investment intelligence entails understanding the general principles of investment. Doing your due diligence, on the other hand, entails understanding the facts behind a certain investment opportunity.

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                  When someone tells you of an investment opportunity somewhere, go after the facts. The facts will tell you whether it is a good opportunity or not. Never focus on people’s opinions when judging different investment options. The best thing is to do your research and justify the claims by the facts. Facts will never mislead.

                  The best approach is to study the past and project the future. This is called forecasting. Similarly, you can follow what is called scenario planning. This is where you try to understand the future and make appropriate decisions today.

                  For example, you might foresee that electric cars are going to take over in the future. This way, you will decide to invest long term in car companies that are focused on that area. This is due diligence.

                  5. Avoid Making Emotional Investment Decisions

                  Emotional decisions lack logic and rationale. They are not supported by the facts. Emotional decisions are therefore risky. When it comes to making investment decisions, always use logic. This is using your brain rather than your heart.

                  For example, a friend you love and respect may tell you of an investment idea and ask you to invest. The natural tendency is to comply with their demand. When you bring your emotions here, it will be impossible to resist even though the deal does not favor your financial future.

                  However, it is better to do what is emotionally incorrect to safeguard your financial interests. Demystify the options and make an informed logical decision.

                  Low-Risk Financial Instruments

                  Knowing how to start investing without taking much risk requires looking at different low-risk investment options.

                  Here are some financial instruments that a risk-averse individual may consider investing in.

                  1. Treasury Securities

                  Government financial instruments are less risky. This is because the government can print money to repay its investors. Therefore, the possibility of default is considerably low.

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                  It is, however, important to understand that these securities yield below-average returns. If you are in your prime age, only invest in them as a diversification tool and not as the main income-generating instruments. Therefore, consider your financial position and make an informed decision.

                  2. Dividend-Paying Stocks

                  Dividend-paying stocks are less risky compared to those that do not. Even if the stocks decrease in value, the dividends you get over the years will caution you against actual financial loss.

                  Therefore, analyze the company in whose stocks you want to invest in carefully. If they do not have a dividend policy that suits your financial needs, move on. Fortunately, many companies pay dividends to their shareholders year in year out. You just need to do your due diligence.

                  3. Preferred Stocks

                  Preferred stocks are given priority over ordinary stocks. They are paid after bondholders are sorted. Therefore, in case the company is pushed out of business, preferred stockholders will be paid before ordinary shareholders upon liquidation of the company’s assets.

                  4. Fixed Annuities

                  A fixed annuity is an insurance contract that pays the holder a guaranteed interest rate on their contribution. The opposite is called variable annuities.

                  The great thing about fixed annuities is that they are simple and predictable. There’s no need for you to learn about the stock market changes since you know what to expect based on your agreement.[1] Fixed annuities are guaranteed. They are paid as long as the company is in a position to do so.

                  5. Money Market Accounts

                  These are interest-bearing accounts provided by financial institutions. They pay a higher interest rate than the normal savings accounts. These accounts have insurance protection and are therefore less risky.

                  6. Corporate Bonds

                  This is a financial debt security that is issued by a firm and sold to investors. Bondholders receive a fixed or variable interest on their investment and receive their investment capital upon maturity. These are low-risk instruments especially if the issuer is an established firm in the market.

                  7. Certificates of Deposits (CDs)

                  This is a type of product offered by many deposit-taking institutions. They offer premium interest rates on deposits as long as the customer agrees to leave the money untouched for a certain period.

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                  8. Value Funds

                  Value funds follow the value investing strategy used by famous investors like Warren Buffet and Benjamin Graham. It involves identifying shares that are undervalued and putting money in them.

                  Value funds are low risk because they are sold at a discount. They later bring returns when the market undergoes an auto-correction. However, it takes skilled managers to identify undervalued stocks.

                  Word of Caution

                  So far, we have looked at how to start investing without taking major risks and the instruments to invest in. It is also important to give a word of caution on the same.

                  1. Let the ROI Outdo the Inflation Rate

                  Inflation is a persistent increase in the prices of commodities. It serves as a measure of the changes in the prices of commodities and services over a period of time. Inflation impacts the cost of living and eats into the purchasing power of money.[2] If your return on investment (ROI) is less than the inflation rate, you have lost economic value.

                  2. Consider Opportunity Cost

                  Opportunity cost is the value of the foregone alternative. If you have different investment options, calculate the ROI, and invest in the option with the least opportunity cost.

                  3. Consider Your Financial Position

                  Where you are in terms of finance should determine the kind of investment option you choose. People who are just starting should seek both returns and security. If your investment is wiped out, you will have little left to lean on.

                  People who are established financially can afford to take major risks. After all, when they lose the investment capital, they have enough to fall back on.

                  4. Consider Your Financial Goals

                  People have different financial goals. Some want to be very wealthy, while others just want to live a comfortable life. Choose your investment options carefully based on your goals. People who want to be super successful should seek to maximize ROI.

                  Final Thoughts

                  As we have seen, it is impossible to eliminate risks. The best you can do is to mitigate them. Therefore, tolerate a certain amount of risk to guarantee better returns. By following the tips in this article, you will learn how to start investing while significantly reducing the risks involves as you focus on the reward.

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                  Featured photo credit: Chris Liverani via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Annuity.org: Fixed Annuity
                  [2] Financial Express: What is Inflation?

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