Financial Tuneup – Diagnostics
We have all heard the saying that the first step for solving a problem is to recognize that there is a problem. So for any financial tuneup to work, you would need good diagnostics. The two apps below do a great job of keeping track of your finances and the resultant impact on your creditworthiness.
Personal Capital – Keep track of your finances
While Personal Capital may have started as more of an investment tool, it is now one of the best tools to see and manage all of your finances in one place. Almost all of the financial management tools are free (yes really free) to use, and the app only charges for some investment advisory services. It can connect to all your financial accounts and give you a snapshot of your inflows and outflows (cash flows), as well as the assets and liabilities balances (net worth). By looking at these two things on a regular basis and comparing against any plans you may have (budgets, longer-term goals), will give you a clear picture if anything is off. Like many apps these days there are a ton of additional features and tools around investments that you can dive into, but that just makes it a little more complicated to use.
Credit Karma – Keep track of your credit
We all know (or should know) the importance of credit scores and a clean credit report for getting credit approvals of all sorts, e.g. credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and in some cases, even employers may run credit reports. With identity theft and credit frauds on the rise, it is important to monitor your credit score and report periodically. There are now a variety of resources available to do just that, from reaching directly to credit reporting agencies to many credit cards offering free credit monitoring. If you are looking for a free way to keep track of the important credit information, Credit Karma is a great way to go. It has been around for over 10 years and claims over 100 million people have downloaded and used their app. In short, they know what they are doing. Yes, they do offer additional services around loans, credit cards, and taxes even but consider that icing on the cake.
Financial Tuneup – Savings
Honey – Save when you shop
Their tagline says it best: if there is a better price we will find it. Honey makes it easy to find the best price for anything you are looking to buy from thousands of stores, including any applicable coupons (no more keeping track of all coupons!) As more of us shop online, Honey is becoming a must-have tool to have for savings. It can be installed as an add-on for any of the common web browsers you may use, and also recently came out with an app. This is one of my favorite apps/browser extensions to have and I highly recommend it.
Acorns – Save after you shop
While Honey takes care of saving you money as you shop online, Acorns makes it super easy to actually put away the savings into a separate account. By signing up for the app, you will be letting Acorns set aside and invest the spare change left behind after every purchase. In this way, Acorns make it automatic to save money and also doesn’t require a big amount to begin investing and potentially earning a return. There is also a great library of financial information available through the app, and they are also adding many retail partners to save you money when you shop with them. Getting started with savings doesn’t get any easier than this.
Financial Tuneup – Prevention & Protection
Privacy – Prevent fraud
Credit Card fraud is one of the largest and, thanks to the growth of e-commerce, one of the fastest-growing global fraud categories. Watching your financial accounts through Personal Capital or your credit report through Credit Karma could alert you to possible credit card fraud, the Privacy app or browser extension is what can help you prevent it in the first place. At every place you shop online, you get a unique card number that only works at each individual merchant. So if your card number gets stolen or exposed, it can’t be used anywhere else. You can have a separate ‘card’ for each place you shop at, can set spending limits on that card, and also set up notifications for when that card gets used. For me, it has been very convenient to not have to root around for my wallet and credit card every time I have to buy something online, and also I would rather share my credit card info with one company (Privacy) rather than multiple merchants, many of which have shown they aren’t too easy to hack.