I am a big supporter of budgeting tools. In the past, I’ve used spreadsheet and simple note style budgets but I have been slowly transitioning to mobile apps. The need for a personal budget is undeniable, whether you make $35,000 per year or $1,000,000. Unless you have a way to monitoring you money, you will always derail.
I recently had a great conversation with Wes Shelnutt, Director of Financial Training at Mvelopes. Money-Smart Millennials wants you to be financially stable and organized and that is Mvelopes’ goal as well. If managing spreadsheet is too complicated and bothersome for you, you must embrace the mobile approach. In this article, Wes provides you with the how-to.
By: Wes Shelnutt, director of financial training, Mvelopes
Saving money isn’t easy.
It’s no secret that building up a nest egg is a goal many strive for, but few are able to accomplish it. In fact, just 39 percent of Americans have enough money saved to cover a $1,000 emergency. Considering more than one-third of households reported having a major unexpected expense arise over the past year, the lack of financial security many people face is concerning.
While saving can be hard, controlling your spending can be even harder.
Luckily, our smartphones are here to help. From mobile apps to online banking capabilities, smartphones offer increased access to our financial information and many tools to help us better manage our money. Ready to increase your financial stability? Look no further than your phone.
Empower your budget with mobile apps
Making a formal budget —and sticking to it — is often easier said than done. And it’s clear that poor spending habits don’t help. In June 2017, Americans reached the highest collective credit card debt in U.S. history, totaling more than $1 trillion in outstanding revolving credit.
But there are plenty of budgeting apps available to help keep your spending in check. Chances are you almost always have your phone on you, so why not use that proximity to your advantage?
Budgeting apps not only allow you to track spending down to the penny, but they also make it easier to identify the areas of your finances that need work. With these types of personal finance apps, you can connect all your financial accounts in one place, keep track of your spending on the go and even sync up your transactions so you don’t overspend.
Many different budgeting apps exist, so don’t be afraid to test out a few to learn which one has the capabilities that work best for you and your budget. Once you select the right app for your budgeting needs, make sure you keep it front and center on your home screen and not hidden away in a folder or on another page.
To regain control of your finances, you need to first understand exactly where you are now, and then develop a goal for where you want to be. In many cases, budgeting apps provide the type of guidance and coaching necessary to spark real personal money transformations.
Put your phone to work
But even without specialized budgeting apps, your phone can still be a useful financial management tool. Here are some of the easiest ways to set yourself up for financial success using many of the capabilities already built into your mobile device:
- Notify yourself — Use recurring calendar events or set reminders to remind yourself to check your account balances, make bill payments or show your savings account a little love. These ongoing notifications can help build natural habits over time.
- Use that notepad — The ability to quickly jot down and access notes on the go can be helpful in keeping your financial goals top of mind. For example, try using your phone’s notepad to count the number of days you’ve made positive financial decisions in a row.
- Unlink and unfollow — Don’t make it too easy on yourself to make purchases. Unlink your credit or debit cards from any payment or retail apps, such as Amazon, Apple Pay, Venmo, etc. While you’re at it, go ahead and unfollow any social media accounts that may tempt you to spend, like those that promote luxury vacations, high-end clothing, expensive electronics or other items that fall outside your budget.
- Move that app — If you find yourself browsing shopping apps too often, apply the idea of ‘out of sight out of mind.’ Move any apps that may tempt you to spend to the second or third page of your screen or hide them within a folder.
The right habits take time
Mobile devices and the innovation that comes with them make it easier than ever to help you achieve financial freedom. And while there are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help get you back on the right financial track, above all else don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time. Positive budgeting habits don’t just happen overnight. Start by becoming more self-aware of your spending behaviors and identifying the things that need to change.
About the author
Wes Shelnutt is the director of financial training at Mvelopes by Finicity, a direct-to-consumer budgeting tool and financial wellness platform. Wes knows that money, and the way you manage it, is the great equalizer for people of all ages and lifestyles, and his passion for helping consumers better manage their finances drives him forward.