Best Smart Phone Apps for Personal Finances

While everything today seems to be on the go, you want to make sure that your personal finances can also be on the go with you. There are a lot of apps out there for smart phones to help you get control and keep track of your finances. These applications will help you learn how exactly you spend money, find money saving deals, and help you keep you and your family’s financial information organized and secure.

The first app is ‘Mint’ which takes a look at your spending habits and helps you create different budgets for certain financial categories such as food, clothes, and gas. You can track how much you make and how much you spend monthly and even weekly on different things. Creating a budget is also easy with this app, especially since you can update your account information online and through your app. It will also send you alerts when you are under a certain amount of money in your bank account or if you have gone over any budgets. Mint is available for iPhones, Androids, and Blackberrys for free.

Pageonce will help you pay any and all of your bills safely and securely straight from your phone. You can set up any bills that you have to pay in to their easy to use application so that all of your bills are in one place so you can stay on top of your bills. Scheduling payments isn’t the only thing that is great about Pageonce, they also work extremely hard to keep all of your information as safe and secure as it would be through a bank, and they even help monitor any suspicious activity in your accounts to help prevent fraud and identity theft. Like Mint, Pageonce is available for Apple Products, Android, Blackberry as well as Windows Phones.

When it comes to money, gas prices are pretty important. GasBuddy will let you find and compare different gas prices in your area. This app lets you get up-to-date information about gas prices in that area from other users and it tells you when the last update was. You get different filter options so that you can find different types of gas such as unleaded, premium, and diesel, and you can filter out the options based on price and distance. GasBuddy is a free application that is available for Android and Windows Phones as well as Blackberry and Apple.

Getting the lowest price possible is always helpful. Google’s Google Shopper app will help you get the best deal you can. You scan the barcode of the item you want to buy and Google Shopper will help find the same product but at a lower price so that you know you are getting the best deal. After recent updates, the application will also let you find offers that are nearby, and even get offers of the day. Google Shopper is available for Android and iPhone users.

For those of you who like to get the best deal by clipping coupons, “Yowza!!” is perfect for you. With Yowza, you can find coupons based on your city or zip code so you get the best local savings. You can even sign up to get alerts for when you favorite store adds new coupons. These coupons don’t require you to print anything out, so you don’t have to be fishing for the coupon when you get up to the cashier, they simply scan the barcode right from your phone and you get instant savings. Not only does it save you money in the store, but it doesn’t cost anything to download it for your iPhone. Other smart phone users can check out the “Where” app who is partnered with “Yowza!!”.

The Best Finance App

The best finance app, in my opinion, is Mint.com’s mobile app. Here is a list of its features and finance app alternatives if you prefer to use an app other than Mint.com.

Mint.com (Free)

I have been using mint for a long time now and believe it is the best finance app. Intuit bought this web site a while back so it is very secure, using bank level encryption.

Mint gives you a quick overview of your finances, which you can put on one of your main screens in the form of a widget. The widget will show your current cash amount and your credit debt. It will also show you the last time your information was updated, so you can be sure that you are looking at the most recent information.

Once you set up a monthly budget, you can access it with the app to make sure you are staying on track for the month. Mint is very good at knowing how to categorize your transactions for budgeting purposes and it will let you know if it does not know how to categorize a transaction.

The app automatically gives you alerts for various things, which include the availability of large deposits, what bills will are due in the next few days, etc.

You can get a very general picture of you investments with this app. By that, I mean if you simply want to know the balance of you accounts, you will be happy with this app. If you want to get more information about the performance of specific investments, you will need to go to the website.

To set up this app, I would suggest you log on to the main website to input all of you account information and set your budget. Once that is completed, you simply download the app, log in, and all your accounts are ready to go.

Adaptu Wallet (Currently Free)

Adaptu Wallet has many unique features like tracking loyal programs and creating spending forecasts. The app also allows you to store photos of insurance and business cards, which will decrease the clutter inside your wallet. The app is currently free, but the word on the street is they will start charging for usage sometime in 2012.

Pageonce (Free or $4.99 for Gold version)

Pageonce arguably has the best interface of all the finance apps. Your key account balances are placed in thumbnails that appear on the home screen. Contrary to popular belief, this app does provide PayPal support even though many claim it doesn’t. Balance updates are not as fast as Mint.com or Adaptu, some transactions take days to update. The Gold version has the useful ability to pay bills directly from the app, and this is the only finance app that can do this. The gold version also removes all the ads from your app.

SMSF Fees – Make Sure You Are Comparing Apples With Apples

I read with amusement an article I found on the website of a Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) services company that compared the fees they charged for doing SMSF administration with the management fees charged by large Superannuation Funds and of course concluded that it was cheaper to have an SMSF. The writer of the article is assuming the only costs for running a fund is simply administration fees. In 2008, I did some research for a friend who was planning to start fund management company, and what I found was that the administration fees are only a small part of the costs of a fund management company. The biggest costs are for research and investment management expertise.

The writer of the article must assume investing requires no skills and choosing the right stocks to invest in is as simple putting the stocks page of the newspaper on the wall and throwing a dart to choose a stock to buy, or taking tips from your neighbour or taxi driver. He assumes there is no need to pay for financial education, research or advice to properly manage an investment portfolio. I wonder how well his clients’ portfolios are doing this year – not too well I suspect if they believe no skills are needed for investing.

For anyone who is considering starting an SMSF, you must factor in a cost for investing. Some of the costs would include

1) Education – if you plan to invest in stocks, you must know some basic techniques for analysing stocks such as fundamental analysis and technical analysis so you have a basis for what stocks to buy, and when to buy or sell a stock. If you wish to invest using other more complex instruments such as options, futures, warrants or CFDs, there is more education that you will need to invest in. There are many education companies out there and most courses I have seen costs a few thousand dollars each. I have spent quite a lot of money on books, courses and seminars but I see it as an investment in myself to develop the skills I need to help me manage my investments, no different from paying for a University degree to get the skills I need to help me find a job.

2) Research – with the internet, a lot of information today is now free. You can get free fundamental data and news on listed companies on Google Finance and Reuters and you can get free stock charts from Bigcharts but it takes time to do the analysis on each stock. There are a number of research companies who can provide their analysis for a fee and subscribing for the research could save you time and provide you with some investment ideas. Be careful not to confuse “research” with “advice”. There are many financial advisory companies who provide recommendations on what to buy but do not provide the basis for their recommendation. I would strongly advise that you come up with your own investment criteria so that when you decide to buy a stock, you know why you are buying that stock. Before you buy, you should also have a plan for when to sell the stock and that is only possible when you understand why you bought it in the first place. Buying blindly based on someone’s recommendation is a very dangerous practice.

It is not easy to make a direct comparison of costs for running an SMSF vs management fees charged by large Super Funds. All I would like to point out is that there is a “investment management” component that should be included in the cost of running a SMSF. When we compare fees, we should take it into consideration so that we are indeed comparing apples with apples.

Be Prepared for the Problems in Used Car Financing With Solutions Before You Start

Financing properly is more important in financing a used car than when buying a new car. Most problems that occur in buying a used car are due to there being a problem connected with the financing. Getting the used car financing worked out properly is the key to a successful used car purchase.

Most buyers aren’t aware of how important the paper work is to making the deal a successful one or a failure. They view it as paperwork that should be completed as quickly as possible so they can drive away in their new car.

To start with, it’s very important to get the deal agreed upon by the salesman to be put in writing in the contract. This often involves determining monthly auto loan payments based on an interest rate. Sometimes, the interest rate a customer qualifies for is inflated so the dealership can make extra profit.

This headache can easily be avoided by obtaining independent vehicle financing before going to the dealership. This means the consumer can proceed as a “cash buyer” and negotiate only the price of the car. Car salesmen prefer customers to be “monthly payment” buyers because, in this way, it is easier to obscure the total cost of the vehicle.

Independent car financing can be obtained from a bank, credit union or on-line lender. With the popularity of the internet, applying for used car refinance is proving to be simple and very easy to do. Many on line lenders respond very quickly – sometimes as short as 15 minutes by email or telephone. If the application is approved, the borrower is given a credit limit at an established interest rate. Sometimes a blank bank check is issued with no obligation to use it.

“For the majority of consumers, even if you know you have good credit, there is a little apprehension and tension around applying,” one lender said. “So instead of going into a dealership and giving them your information and being sent to the coffee machine to wait for an answer, you can apply on-line, 24/7.”

Most people familiar with how used car dealerships operate confirm that obtaining independent car financing is beneficial to most consumers. .

The most common problems that have a negative impact on a person trying to finance a used car –and their solutions – to ensure that things go smoothly are the following:

Problem #1: Many consumers don’t know what their credit rating is when they apply for an auto loan. The strength of their credit score largely determines what kind of interest rate they will receive. Therefore, it’s critical to make sure your credit report is in the best shape possible before shopping for a car.

SOLUTION: Order a copy of your credit report and look for items that may stand in the way of you getting a good rate. Correct any issues or errors promptly. Are all of your lines of credit in good standing? Are there any signs of identity theft? The credit bureaus will tell you how to correct errors when they send you the report. The following numbers and Web site addresses will assist you in checking your credit.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Personal Finance

There are many applications for the iPhone that give users the ability to make personal financing easier than ever. While solving one pain-in-the-neck issue, it creates another – which app to buy? Because of the popularity of these headache-reducing apps, there is an overwhelming amount of options available in the App Store. Deciphering which app is the best available is almost impossible. Add in the fact that so many aren’t free, and choosing the right one the first time around could save time and money. Before downloading anything, it’s important to know if the functionality of the app (money transferring, budget tracking, etc.) fits your needs. Provided is a list of ten apps including the price and primary function that can make tracking personal finances much easier.

Mint – There are tons of finance apps available that focus on budget tracking. Few are as popular as Mint, which allows users to manage multiple financial accounts from one simple user interface. With user-friendly features and no price tag, there is little wonder why this app has so many users.

Loan Shark – Dealing with loans is never a pleasant experience. The Loan Shark app helps ease some of the pain endured while handling loans without having to pay anything. It simplifies the process of calculating loans by a great deal and also has many features including a full amortization table, a one-tap extra payment option, and a “favorites” feature.

MoneyStrands – This app is another free option for tracking your budget. With features like alerts, analysis, security, and support, it is one to compare to Mint.

PageOnce – Planning long-term investments can be easy to put off. This app also assists in budgeting your current finances like MoneyStrands and Mint, but really excels in planning for the future. It gives you the ability to look at your 401k, IRA, and stocks all at the same time, while not costing you a cent.

Toshl – Toshl incorporates cloud computing into every day financing with this free app. The cloud feature allows users to automatically sync their mobile movements online. Additionally, there is a premium upgrade ($19.95/year) that allows users to export to Excel, PDF, or Google Docs among other features.

MoneyBook – MoneyBook is another addition to the long line of apps for budgeting. This one, however, comes at a price. Promoted as “Finance with Flair,” the app costs $2.99 and is loaded with features to make financing easier.

SplashMoney – At $4.99, what differentiates this from the free apps is its ability to connect wirelessly to most online bank accounts.

Square – The price is right for this free app that makes credit card purchases simpler than ever. By signing up, Square, Inc. will provide a credit card reader that can be attached directly to the iPhone. Once connected, users have the ability to swipe all major credit cards with only a 2.75% charge per swipe.

PayPal – Ebay-owned PayPal provides users a secure, simple way to send or receive money wirelessly.

General Banking – The bulk of major banks have available apps for free. These provide easy-access to any and all bank accounts in a secure fashion.

This is only a small example of the many, many apps that can help make financing easier. With the continuous release of new applications and updates to old ones, banking from your iPhone will continue to simplify; finding the app for doing so may not. This list is a great place to start looking.

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