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Do you have a spending plan? There’s an app (and expert advisor) for that!


If you feel like you’re spending too much, you probably don’t have a spending plan, nor have you sought out any expert advice.

Do you have a spending plan?

It can be frightening to contemplate what you’re spending and what you can really afford to spend. Money (or its lack) is the nation’s most common source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. “The problem is that people hate to think about where they’ll need to cut back.”

Then again perhaps you are budgeting in your own way – writing a personal budget, using a budget spreadsheet or simply keeping track in your head. Getting in the habit of having a spending plan in early adult life is invaluable: figuring out to how to stretch a paycheck, pay off debt and — hopefully — save a little bit, too.

It’s a problem across the board: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey shows 60 percent of Americans admit to not having a personal financial budget – the highest level since 2009.

Personal financial accounts tend to be highly fragmented and have you juggling checking, savings, utilities, loans and more. It can be complicated to know how much money you have, what’s going on with your credit card and what bills you have to pay and when. Late payments can hurt your credit score.

But, as the millennial mobile generation knows well, there’s an app for that. Setting it up – from the bottom up — can be the most stressful. But perhaps like a workout, you should feel good about it when you’re done. You will have a complete, current financial picture, which will enable you to manage your spending and saving with full transparency.

Among the popular apps are:

Mint Bills (formerly Check), an award-winning, all-in-one personal finance mobile app (free) from Intuit. It congregates your fragmented checking, savings and investment accounts into an intuitively simple dashboard. It also lets you connect accounts with reoccurring bills — such as credit cards, utility bills, insurance and loans — and displays live balance information and due date reminders. You can even pay your bills without leaving the app. There is also a credit score reporting service for $6.99 a month.

Mint Bills is an especially good app for those who prefer to put all expenses on their credit and debit cards.

In an Xconomy article/review, Xconomist Wade Roush and former Mint user, said Mint Bills enabled him “to monitor all my accounts from an even simpler, more mobile-friendly—and most importantly, more technically robust—app.”

A relative newcomer to the personal-finance space, Level Money is an app that acts as a mobile money meter so you can track your daily cash flow. On the first day of each month, Level Money “fills up” with your estimated income (based on your spending history) and subtracts your recurring bills and a savings rate (such as 7%). Any remaining money is what you have to spend. The app breaks this down on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to help you stay on track.

Smart budgeting and financial planning shouldn’t be contingent upon the occurrence of major financial decisions or life events. Rather, a periodic check-up on your financial health can help equip you to reach your goals or handle unexpected expenses. For more complex and pro-active financial and investment planning, getting advice from a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner can be invaluable in helping you ensure your financial decisions are well-integrated with your lifestyle decisions.

 

By Caroline Coderre, Wealth Advisor at The Darrow Company. Link to article here.

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