In today's hectic world there seems to be little time handle all of life's tasks. This includes one of your most important responsibilities – making sure your financial house is in order.
For most people, on the most basic level, this entails managing bank and credit card accounts. Others have more to handle, such as mortgages and auto loans. Savers may have retirement accounts and life insurance policies that also require ongoing monitoring.
The ramifications of failing to monitor your financial accounts can be grave. Consequences can cost you. Late payments can lead to late fees and other charges. Repeatedly paying your bills late can ruin your credit. If you are saving, lackadaisical attitudes could hinder you putting aside as much money as possible.
If you take the tasks for granted, or simply find handling them to be too complicated, there is help. Financial institutions, as well as those in the technology space, have developed a slew of means to help people from all walks of life getting better control of managing their accounts.
Keeping it all straight
The first step to effectively managing your financial accounts is to evaluate your financial situation. This means creating a budget. While most understand the importance of not spending beyond their means, just as many stray from their budgets. It's imperative that you don't make this a habit.
It's also crucial that you include goals. Do you want to save up to buy a car? Are you considering buying your first home? Do you simply want to save some money to go on vacation? All these will be much easier to accomplish if you save up ahead of time instead of winging it at the last minute.
Once you have your budget defined, as well as your budget, you're ready to select the bank that will best meet your needs.
In many cases, your bank will be able to handle setting up basic checking and savings accounts. Bank officials can even direct you to the best accounts that pay attractive interest rates on your deposits.
If you find that Bank X has an awesome checking account offer, but Bank Y has a better interest rate for their savings accounts, you may want to go with both. The issue becomes how to keep track of these accounts. Your task will be aggravated if you already have a mortgage or car note. Add in a 401(k) or other retirement accounts, and you'll have your hands full juggling all these accounts.
There's an app for that
While you may not be able to keep all your accounts at the same financial institution, you can manage them all at once. There are software applications that allow users to sync their various financial accounts. Some of the apps are savvy enough to even automatically group purchases according to their similarities.
For example, the software can detect and categorize bill payments and leisure expenses. It can also keep track of your deposits. To keep you on track in meeting your goals by your target date, the software can alert you to how much you need to set aside per paycheck.
One app that is making waves is Mint. The free app automatically updates and categorizes your information.
"From your bank accounts and credit cards to retirement accounts and more—we'll crunch the numbers as they happen, so you know where you stand. Because Mint helps you watch/manage your money; Mint will also help you find savings along the way. We analyze thousands of checking, savings, credit card, brokerage, CD and IRA rollover offers—then make recommendations that could help save you the most based on your lifestyle and goals."
Another option is BillTracker. It allows you to manage all of your bills from one place. The app provides reminders for payment due dates, creates a database for account contact phone numbers and tracks payment confirmation numbers. BillTracker's calendar view makes it easy to view upcoming payments, making it easier to plan ahead.
BillTracker costs $2.99. It's available on the App Store (sorry Android users, this one's not on the Google Play store).