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You Can Save a Ton of Money With Financial Compartmentalization

You Can Save a Ton of Money With Financial Compartmentalization

Using Only One Account Doesn’t Save

Many people were fortunate enough to take a vacation this summer, and some of them probably even journeyed to the islands: now it’s time to take your personal finances there using a method known as the Island Approach. But unlike a real vacation, this trip to the islands can actually save you a ton of money!

You see, the Island Approach is a compartmentalization-based personal finance strategy that entails using individual accounts for specified purposes in order to:

  1. accrue the best possible collection of terms for each type of transaction you’ll make, and
  2. garner a better perspective on your spending and payment habits.

No single financial account beats the rest of the market in every single category, after all. For example, a certain credit card may offer the most lucrative rewards, but won’t provide the longest 0% introductory period. Likewise, a particular checking account may waive all ATM fees, but isn’t likely to have the highest interest rates.

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What’s more, if you use a single credit card for carrying revolving debt and making ongoing purchases, or use a lone checking account for savings and everyday cash management, it can be difficult to determine what’s what and ultimately track your progress.

The Island Approach can solve all of that. It can also apply to any one segment of your personal finances, or to the full breadth – from credit cards and everyday cash management tools to investments and loans.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll limit the following example of how the Island Approach could work in a practical sense just to credit cards.

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The Island Approach in Practice

Let’s say that you make the majority of your everyday purchases with plastic and currently have $6,600 in credit card debt (the national household average).

If you prefer the ease of using a single credit card, you’ll be forced to choose between:

  1. the most lucrative rewards your credit standing will allow you to get
  2. the most attractive financing deal, or
  3. average terms across the board.

You may also find it difficult to budget since your ongoing expenses are jumbled up with your revolving debt, which generally leads to higher interest payments. Interest is assessed on the average daily balance held on accounts with a revolving balance. When you use the same card to both revolve debt and make new purchases, your average daily balance will equal the sum of your debt and the new purchases.

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Interest will apply only to your revolving balance when you isolate debt and ongoing expenses. You’ll also give yourself built-in protection against overspending. We should all be able to pay off gas, groceries and other recurring expenses each and every month, so the presence of finance charges on the card designated for everyday spending will be a clear signal to cut back.

Then there are the improved terms. Rather than being stuck with one average card, you’ll be able to strategically take advantage of different market-best credit card offers. For instance, you could get:

  • The Slate Card from Chase (to lower the cost of existing debt): This balance transfer credit card offers 0% on transferred debt for the first 15 months and doesn’t charge either a balance transfer fee or an annual fee.  Assuming that you allocate $200 to paying down your balance each month, the Slate Card will save you nearly $1,800 in fees and finance charges while helping you become debt free nine months faster, compared to a regular card with a 17% interest rate.
  • The Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express (to maximize your everyday rewards earning): This card offers 6% cash back at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% on everything else, in addition to a $150 initial rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first three months. Such rewards are not only worth the $75 annual fee for most consumers, but they’ll also enable you to effectively subsidize some of your most prominent recurring expenses.

You may even decide to get a bit fancy with the Island Approach and supplement your base cards with attractive one-time offers as they pop up. Issuers have made it a practice in the post-recession environment to offer lucrative sign-up rewards bonuses and financing deals. With the current offers in mind, you could get $400 in free money just by opening a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Barclaycard Arrival and meeting initial spending requirements.

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Bottom Line

The Island Approach is a personal finance strategy that entails using individual accounts to meet specific needs. It enables you to maximize your product terms, save money on interest, and keep better track of spending and payment habits.

However, there’s a reason it’s called ‘personal’ finance, and if you don’t think that keeping tabs on a number of different accounts will work for you, by all means opt for a more comfortable strategy. Just make sure to adhere to a budget and pay off debts as quickly as possible and you’ll be fine.

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Published on July 4, 2018

Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

Don’t want to overspend your budget, swipe your credit card too many times, and feel like a financial mess? Instead of beating yourself up for the bad financial decisions you’ve ever made, create a new plan!

The solution is simple, save more and spend less. But, we all know it’s easier said than done.

One problem is finding quality apps that save you time and money, and aren’t just hype.

Luckily, there’re many great money management apps available at your fingertips. Here are 10 reliable money management apps that can help you save money, and crush debt.

1. Personal Capital

    When was the last time you’ve tracked your net worth? Probably months ago or maybe never. Personal Capital allows you to easily track your net worth and plan for retirement.

    Here are some of its main features:

    • Sync many investment accounts, and expenses (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) in one place
    • Discover hidden fees and how much they’re affecting your retirement plan
    • Wealth management for investors requiring a long-term strategy

    With Personal you’re free to track your expenses and net worth.

    Available for: iOS and Android

    2. Mint

      If your smartphone could only install a few apps, Mint would be one of them. Why? Because Mint tracks all your balances and bills in one place.

      Here are some of its main features:

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      • Effortlessly track all your bills and balances in one dashboard
      • Categorized expenses to understand where you spend your money
      • Uncover hidden fees, and determine your investment style with sophisticated retirement tools.

      Feel at ease with managing your money by a reputable company that isn’t going anywhere.

      Available for: iOS and Android

      3. YNAB

        Everyone needs a budget, there’s no way around it. YNAB (You Need A Budget) is an easy to use app that will change the way you think about money. Their motto is to “give every dollar a job”, and you’ll quickly discover why.

        Here are some of its main features:

        • Easily sync all bank accounts in one place
        • Visually see your debt paying progress with eye-catching charts and notifications
        • Customized categories setting saving goals

        The best part about YNAB is the community that comes along with it. You can hop on the YNAB forum to receive support, listen to the YNAB Podcast or stay tuned for their weekly videos.

        Available for: iOS and Android

        4. Wealthfront

          Albert Einstein once said “compound interest is the eight wonder in the world”, and for a very good reason. The problem is, most people are scared or unwilling to learn the basics of investing. This is why Wealthfront is the perfect solution for the hands-off investors.

          Here are some of its main features:

          • Variety of investment account options including IRA, Roth IRA, and more
          • Your portfolio composed of 7 different asset classes
          • Automatically rebalanced portfolio
          • Daily tax loss harvesting

          Wealthfront is perfect for people requiring investment guidance, or prefer a hands-off solution.

          Available for: iOS and Android

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          5. Clarity Money

            If you’re staying on top of your budget but want to take your finances to the next level, Clarity Money can help you. Clarity Money helps you stay under budget and build a personalized savings plan.

            Here are some of its main features:

            • Easily cancel subscriptions with one click
            • Synchronize bank accounts fast
            • Transfer money effortlessly between different accounts

            Clarity Money isn’t an app that does it all. But, it does make transferring money and canceling subscriptions fast and efficient.

            Available for: iOS and Android

            6. Acorns

              What if there was a way to quickly gain confidence in investing your money, without too much risk? There is, and Acorns is your solution. With Acorns’s technology, you’re able to make investments as small as $5.

              Here are some of its main features:

              • Automatic contribution option
              • Customized portfolio tailored to your needs
              • Low management fees ranging from $1-$2 per month

              Stop wasting dollars on expensive coffee. Instead, invest them towards a brighter financial future.

              Available for: iOS and Android

              7. Albert

                Do you budget by only subtracting your expenses from your income? If so, how would you discover any overpayments or extra money you could save? This is where Albert shines, and it does it all free.

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                Here are some of its main features:

                • Receive notifications for overpayments, hidden fees, and low balances
                • An Automatic budget that’s built around your spending and income
                • Easily track debt and set new financial goals

                While Albert does offer a paid option, most of its core features are FREE. So, what better option to save?

                Available for: iOS

                8. Prism

                  Have you recently forgot to pay a bill because life got in the way? Prism automatically tracks your bills and syncs your bank accounts in one place.

                  Here are some of its main features:

                  • View all your account balances in one glance
                  • Bill due dates are automatically pulled and tracked
                  • Receive early reminders for upcoming bills

                  If your budget is on “fleek” but can’t seem to stay on top of your bills, Prism is your go-to app.

                  Available for: iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon

                  9. Mvelopes

                    Remember hearing about people using envelopes to budget their money? Well, Mvelopes is the new envelope system for this generation. Easily create monthly budgets and track your saving goals.

                    Here are some of its main features:

                    • Connect unlimited bank accounts
                    • Real-time budgeting with auto transaction syncing
                    • Low monthly $4 fee or $40 annual

                    Mvelopes can help you crush debt, save more, and help you stop overspending. With its low monthly fee, it’s worth a try.

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                    Available for: iOS and Android

                    10. Wallaby

                      Most people don’t have time to track their credit card’s changing rewards and interest rates. Because of this, you need help reaping the most of your credit card’s rewards. Wallaby is the app that will help you do just that.

                      Here are some of its main features:

                      • Automatic recommendations for the best credit card to use for each transaction
                      • A friendly user interface, displaying credit cards with their corresponding images
                      • Free to use

                      If you’re using the same credit card to make your purchases, you may be leaving money on the table. Give Wallaby a try if you’re ready to maximize your credit card’s rewards.

                      Available for: iOS and Android

                      Take control of your finances and experience financial freedom

                      Picture yourself staying on budget and saving more money than you’d ever imagined.

                      It took hard work and dedication but you’d finally learned how to manage your money. You have to start taking control of your spending and saving habits.

                      You now have a list of reliable apps that can help you build better money habits, what are you waiting for?

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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