Would you be hard-pressed to come up with a $5 bill if asked at a register? As of 2017, about half the population had moved to a limited cash existence, and 5% weren’t using cash at all, according to a U.S. Bank survey. Meanwhile, mobile payments have been rising dramatically, with 20.2% of the U.S. population using them last year. How, then, can we best understand how to manage our wealth without tangible daily evidence of the money going into — and coming out of — our coffers?
The answer lies in the main driver of a cashless economy: technology. Technology has freed society from carrying paper money and metal coins. Used appropriately, it has the power to guide us to make better financial decisions. Of course, the key is to know how best to leverage tech to improve money literacy, beef up credit scores, spend responsibly and facilitate long-term savings practices. It all starts with awareness.
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Finance Has Gone Virtual
The internet has proven to be an exceptional means of organizing and maximizing wealth. In fact, people who are making the smartest money decisions today are more often than not applying some online strategies to stay abreast of their earnings and debts. They’re even using tools such as the iPhone’s native Screen Time usage tracking to apply the ancient — but always pertinent — principle, “Time is money.”
If you’ve had trouble setting aside funds for future goals, or even taking stock of your income and expenses, consider these five tech-savvy money management options:
1. Debt Management Apps Free You From Your Loans
Mint might be one of the most well-known budgeting apps, so consider it a stepping stone to financial success. After learning the Mint ropes, search for apps like the aptly named Debts Break, Debt Book and Debt Tracker, which can help you pay down debt. Holding on to a large amount of debt can not only hurt your finances, but it can also wreck your debt-to-income ratio in the eyes of potential lenders.
These apps help break what can sometimes seem like vague or faraway goals into bite-sized chunks. In addition, personalized visuals allow you to watch your debt shrink, which helps keep you motivated to pare down spending. The debt reduction process can become so positively addictive that you may also want to consolidate bills with the Trim app or utilize Credit Sesame to raise your credit score. Every bit really does help.
2. Digital Wallets Keep Your Money Secure
You can still hold onto your wallet or purse for carrying debit and credit cards, not to mention your much-needed ID. However, you might find it easier to track your spending with a digital wallet.
Digital wallets like Apple Pay and CrayPay offer a secure digital locale for all your mobile payments. For instance, CrayPay removes all worries about identity theft by removing identifiable aspects of your payment methods. Basically, when you pay through CrayPay, your information remains protected from nefarious eyes and purposes. Besides, it’s simpler and more efficient to view all your payments in one place. This will provide you with a more holistic view of your expenses.
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3. Investment Apps Make the Stock Market Approachable
Do you feel as if the stock market is about as approachable as an angry bull with a nasty cold? Turn ignorance into a bit of bliss by looking into investment-based apps for your Android or iOS phone.
Robinhood and Stash are two great places to start, as they both deliver informative insights to enable you to comfortably and confidently grow your wealth with stocks and bonds. Robinhood’s brokerage app is free, while Stash requires an account minimum and a modest management fee. Still, this doesn’t mean you should avoid Stash, which may be the better option if you’re serious about diving into the market or planning for retirement. Robinhood, on the other hand, helps put cryptocurrency investing at your fingertips.
Read More: 12 Best Apps for First-Time Investors
4. Money Apps for Partners Help You Combine Finances
Who says you have to handle money management alone? You and your partner may find tremendous relief and encouragement in combining your wealth and tracking it similarly.
As you might guess, there’s at least one app for this. (Actually, there are plenty.) For starters, try Honeyfi to get your household budget in order. The app even gives you the option to keep some of your accounts separate, which may be ideal depending upon your financial relationship and expectations. Twine is another bicycle-built-for-two personal finance app with a focus on making your financial goals a reality, whether that means saving for your upcoming anniversary vacation or plotting a way to retire early. And if you someday transition from couple to single status? Twine has your back by offering advice and options for solo savers, too.
5. Gamified Savings Apps Save You From FOMO
Is the fear of missing out (FOMO) driving you crazy, even when it comes to managing your money? Gamify your debt reduction and wealth building to rewire what you’ll find most rewarding.
Gamified savings apps such as Status Money and the prize-linked Long Game use healthy levels of peer pressure and heavy doses of gamification to keep your attention on the end result: becoming a super saver. Rather than feel deprived by a lack of funds, you’ll get a sense of empowerment as you navigate digital gaming tools to better your personal finance street cred.
You may never become a billionaire — or maybe you will. Regardless, you can balance your finances like a professional investor. All it takes is a little time and a nod to the technology you’re holding in your hand.
Keep reading for effective ways to dig yourself out of debt.
More on Saving Money
- Save More in 2019 With the Best Budgeting Apps
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 12 Free Ways to Send Money to Family and Friends
- 15 Best Mobile Banking Apps and Services
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.