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How to Choose the Best Personal Finance App for You

Written by Ilyce Glink on March 31, 2014 in Credit  |   No comments

The popularity of smartphone devices and apps continues to increase in today’s advanced mobile technology market. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project’s 2013 phone survey, 61 percent of cell phone owners are now classified as smartphone owners. Smartphones offer a…

money managementThe popularity of smartphone devices and apps continues to increase in today’s advanced mobile technology market. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project’s 2013 phone survey, 61 percent of cell phone owners are now classified as smartphone owners.

Smartphones offer a wide variety of apps that can help you manage your personal finances. However, it’s important to recognize that smartphone apps are simply tools—albeit increasingly sophisticated tools—that can support and reinforce smart finance choices. They won’t make you a saver if you’re a spender at heart, but seeing where your money is going could help you curb your spending over time.

With all the options from which you can choose, it can be hard to find the right app for you.

Here are three questions to ask while searching for the perfect app:

1. What are my goals? The right app can vary from person to person and depends on your circumstances. Are you planning a wedding? Trying to pay off a school loan? Or do you simply need a household budget to make sure you have enough money for groceries? The choices are endless.

2. What features are available? Aside from online banking, most major banks also offer mobile applications that allow you to keep tabs on your balances, accounts, and automatic payment withdrawals.

3. How secure is my personal information? In today’s hyper-connected world, security should be a top concern. Just as you should ensure you are on a secure site when banking online, you should also be careful to only share information with a reputable institution when using a mobile app.

Before choosing an app, research it carefully. Most of the name-brand apps ranked in national news outlets have password protection and other protective measures that help keep your personal information secure.

Weigh your options

One popular choice for keeping finances in check is Mint, which is both a Web-based app as well as a mobile app. It ranked high on PCMag.com’s 2013 list of the best mobile finance apps “for its speed and reliability—truly the easiest way to track all your accounts on the fly.”

However, Mint is not ideal for everyone. For example, independent business owner Katie Bendorf used to rely on Mint to stay on top of expenses. But she found that she needed an app with expanded features to not only help run her household but also her small business.

By shopping around, she eventually found the right app that worked for her: iXpenseIt. This app offers features that a small business owner needs, including monthly budgets summaries, graphical reports, and storage of digital photo receipts.

As Bendorf’s experience shows, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mobile personal finance apps. Check out CNBC’s list of the best financial apps of 2014 for more ideas to help you find the best solution for your needs.

Ilyce Glink is the author of over a dozen books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In! Her nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters,” appears in newspapers from coast-to-coast, and her Expert Real Estate Tips YouTube channel has nearly 4 million views. She is the managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog, publisher of ThinkGlink.com, and owner of digital communications agency Think Glink Media. In addition to her WSB radio show and WGN radio contributions, she is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio. Ilyce is a frequent contributor to Yahoo and CBS News

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