As the popular saying goes, “There’s an app for everything.” Starting in the late 2000s, financial accounting applications became popular as more people depended on their smart phones.
Using charts, graphs and spreadsheets, these apps illustrate the user’s spending habits in order to identify places to cut back and save money. This requires the user’s personal information, including credit cards, bank accounts and receipts.
Recently, budgeting apps like Mint or Acorns began taking over personal finance. These hundreds of services and apps can be simplified into three main categories: trackers, manual entry and cash envelopes. Reviews and ratings give high praise for these utilities, but do these tools truly help users to budget better, or is old-fashioned pen and paper more reliable? Below you can learn about the pros and cons of these mobile applications.
Budgeting can be difficult to master due to its large scale and many parts. There is no one right way to budget, as everyone’s situation is different. Therefore, budgets must be adjusted to suit your needs. The perfect budgeting app can be made to help you save money by looking at factors like:
However, creating a budget requires some forethought and preparation. Budgeting apps can help to organize any financial mess conveniently, even for users with the busiest lives. By adding a bank account or credit card number, users can keep track of their expenses and subscriptions, and even put specific savings plans into action. With a mobile budgeting app, you are never more than a touch away from your financial goals.
Moreover, there are hundreds of financial apps, each with its own niche and claim-to-fame. Some help you establish a savings plan, and even automatically deposit some of your paycheck into a savings account each month. Others keep track of expenses and categorize them for easy identification, so you can see where to cut unnecessary expenses.
By submitting account information, receipts and bills, these sites can track changes in your portfolio and recommend future actions to best suit your purchase patterns. Moreover, these apps also make it easy for users to keep an eye on changes to their bank accounts or credit reports. By receiving notifications, the user can quickly see new additions to his or her portfolio and quickly spot any fraudulent activities.
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This flexibility allows for unique consumer experiences, as well. Based on how you receive income and the kind of budget you’re using, these budgeting apps adjust to offer the best advice. By adding previous bills, these apps can also make calendars to remind users of deadlines and due dates so they never miss a payment.
Who can turn down free help? Several budgeting apps offer free help to their users, though some may require a payment. Still, this small amount of organization is a good start to saving money. Keep in mind that some apps offer referral or sign-up bonuses that can add to your savings, too.
Though these budgeting apps can be helpful, their services can have drawbacks as well. There are many moral, security and maintenance dilemmas that can arise as users carry on in the future.
At the forefront of the conversation is the newest concern of data sharing. Consumers must be careful to read the app’s terms and conditions, as these outline the company’s policy of interacting with outside industries. To ensure your information and habits won’t be sold to an independent contractor, research the app in depth and protect your information with a secure password.
Moreover, terms and conditions contain pertinent information, which often goes unread. This document lets users know the requirements, actions and data the app needs to operate. Some users may not agree to these terms upon reading them, but miss the reading at the first opportunity. This can lead to a bad experience down the road.
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General security is also an important issue. Though these services say they are heavily encrypted and protect any data they receive, many still fear this data can be lost or stolen. By entering a bank account or credit card number, users run the risk of financial insecurity. When entrusting these companies with your personal data, you must weigh the risk of that information being lost, or falling into the wrong hands.
Another important factor to consider is how valuable and helpful these budgeting apps really are. Unfortunately, many users are starting to find that products advertised as free are not always truly free. Several apps come with additional premium services that require payment. These single or monthly charges offer a variety of services that users may not get the full experience without.
You can also run into issues with how the app categorizes and tracks certain purchases. Wide-range retailers that sell many different types of products or services can easily be misplaced in the computerized budget. Most apps have an “uncategorized” section where the user can manually fill in the expense to create a more accurate report. For busy and unorganized users, this section can quickly get out of hand and render the budget useless or incorrect.
Furthermore, you need an up-to-date phone to run these applications if you truly want your finances on-hand at all times. Apps can take up large amounts of storage to run and often require certain permissions. This may require an update to a current phone or the purchase of a newer model to ensure a properly functioning online budget.
In the end, these apps are only as reliable as the person using them. Since they are computer software, the advice and projections provided may require tweaks and edits. Only you know what is needing for your success. Therefore, these apps offer suggestions more than schedules to their users.
Understanding the patterns of the apps and personal expenses are essential to getting the full use of any service. Not all apps will update automatically and some require manual entries of past expenses. Overall, budgeting apps can be very helpful to those looking for organization in the finances, but it is a two-way street. Users must watch the computer and be sure the information is correct or else the budget will not be optimized to fit their needs.
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