Most of us can remember the days when our parents would sit around the kitchen table with a mountain full of receipts and their checkbook furiously entering and adding numbers and swearing when everything wouldn’t balance. It’s not that that method of managing finances is necessarily outdated; it’s just that, who has the time? And with all of the high tech ways to manage your finances available these days, why would you? Unless you have chosen to live off the grid, or you have forsworn anything to do with the Internet, you have dozens of way to best manage your finances waiting at your fingertips.
With the advent of the Internet, just about everything we do can be automated, including our banking. All of the major banks, regional banks and most community banks and credit unions provide free online banking which consists of an online register of your checking and savings activities. Most activities are recorded instantly and the data is compiled daily to show you a running, current balance. An offshoot to online banking is online bill pay, usually free with most accounts. With online bill pay you can set up automatic payments to your utilities and to most credit accounts.
With many banks moving towards remote deposit, you will never need to drive to your bank again. You will simply scan your deposit using your printer-scanner or your smartphone and the deposit will be recorded instantly.
Many online banking platforms also include programs for budgeting and cash flow management which can save you a lot of time if most of your finances are handled through your bank.
Online Personal Finance Programs
The key to successfully managing your finances is to establish and manage a strict budget that can help you manage your cash flow and increase your savings. With online personal finance programs, you can have all of your personal finance data aggregated together, compiled, categorized, and calculated to provide a real-time snapshot of your budget and your cash flow situation. With programs such as Intuit’s Quicken you can upload your banking and credit account information automatically for instant tracking. Once you set up your budget and spending categories, Quicken automatically moves your transaction to where it belongs so you can see how your actual spending matches up with your budget. It will also enable you to forecast your cash flow for future months. If you don’t want to spend $30, you could sign up for Mint.com, a free personal finance program offering most of the same capabilities.
The latest mobile technology enables you to always have your personal finances at your fingertips – literally. Smartphone, such as the iPhone or any Android phone, enable you to bank and manage your finances on the run. Just about anything you can do on your PC using the Internet can be done using a smartphone. Most banks provide a free app that will allow you to access your online account, transfer funds, pay bills, and, in some cases, scan-deposit checks. Most personal finance programs offer mobile apps for managing finances on the run as well.
For most people, managing their personal finances comes down to a matter of the amount of time they can devote to it. Now, there is simply no excuse for living outside of a budget, missing a payment, or failing to save. Technology has automated or simplified just about everything we do in life, and now, it can turn anyone into a money pro.