Life is busy and you have a ton of things on your plate, which can sometimes make managing your money difficult to focus on. With today's ever-growing lists of things to do, planning for your retirement can easily take a back seat. However, your money and what happens to it couldn't play a more important role in whether or not you have a successful retirement. That's why taking advantage of technology, especially with limited time on your hands, is an important step in planning your financial future. Here are nine money apps that make it easier to keep your retirement planning on track.
Budgeting and Net Worth Tracking:
Knowing where your money is going is a key first step in planning for your future. You can't direct your money toward your goals and the things that are important to you until you identify the areas you need to adjust or cut back on first.
If you're unsure of where your money is going, what you have left over and at what level you could be stashing away for your future, check out apps like Mint or You Need a Budget. These tools will help you identify the amounts you're spending (or overspending) in certain areas, where you may be able to scale back and allow you to track your growing net worth as you begin to reallocate those funds to savings.
If you need more hand holding and input into how much you should be saving or a good amount to allocate for monthly spending, check out Level, which is an app that calculates your monthly income and bills based upon your banking and spending history. It then makes suggestions as to what you should be saving and what your daily, weekly and monthly spending should be.
Your credit score is akin to your financial report card, except there's no getting rid of it after college. If treated properly, this number can grow, which in turn will allow you access to low interest rates, higher amounts lent to you and more money kept in your pockets. Slack off on your financial responsibilities, and you'll likely pay -- with fewer credit approvals, higher interest rates and stricter lending terms. Using an app like Credit Karma will allow you to monitor your score on a consistent basis to ensure information is up to date.
If you're worried about fraudulent activity on your accounts, BillGuard will track your spending and card activity. It creates an alert if there's a data breach at any merchant you've shopped with or any suspicious activity or transactions on your account and provides the option to report the activity or contact the merchant.
While your investing should definitely take place on a higher level, if you're looking for a place to begin in your journey, consider the Acorns app, which allows you to invest your spare change in low cost exchange-traded funds, by rounding up purchases on your debit or credit charges to the next dollar and investing the difference in one of six portfolios of your choosing. Fees start at $1 per month for accounts under $5,000, 0.25 percent per year for accounts over $5,000 and all students and anyone under age 24 are granted no management fees.
If you're looking for a better overview of your investments and finances in general, Personal Capital might be the app for you. The free version of this app allows you to sync all of your investment accounts in one place. It will analyze your portfolio, including asset classes, individual securities, industries and market caps, and how it compares to major indices. It also provides insight into your 401(k) fees (and if you're paying too much), tracks your net worth and provides some cash flow management and tracking features.
The sooner you get out of debt, the sooner you'll have more money to stash away for your future (and the more money you save on interest payments). If you're wondering what impact an additional annual payment will make on your mortgage or what putting an extra $100 per month towards your car loan or credit card payment will do for your balances, check out the Loan Calculator Pro app and Mortgage Calculator Pro app, which allow you to calculate payments, review "what if" scenarios for making extra payments and provide amortization schedules.
When it comes to saving for your retirement, things don't need to be complicated and you don't have to stress about the hours upon hours that keeping track of your money takes. Invest an hour or two of your time to set up and begin leveraging the technology tools above. You'll soon see that the ability to plan for your financial future is at your fingertips on a daily basis. What might have taken you hours, now only takes 15 minutes a day to monitor and make the adjustments needed to keep your retirement plan on track.
Mary Beth Storjohann is a certified financial planner for Gen Y and the founder of Workable Wealth.
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