Putting Technology to Work to Manage Family Finances

Friday, May 18 at 07:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

Every parent knows, regardless of how many bells and whistles you employ to make managing family life easier, there is always room for one more tool - if it simplifies the juggling act!

Most parents are pros at maximizing smartphones, tablets and laptops. Technology assists us with everything from online grocery orders and pick-up to dinner delivery to managing homework and sports schedules, and so much more. But what about managing your family finances? How can technology help? 

Mobile banking, the use of a smartphone or tablet to manage a bank account or conduct financial transactions, is a leading preference among consumers when it comes to managing their money. A national survey by the American Bankers Association in August 2017 revealed that 70 percent of Americans surveyed had managed their bank account using a mobile device at least once during the previous month. Among the most popular features of mobile banking options is fingerprint identification for security. Touch ID, consistent updates within banking apps, and the ability to send secure messages or questions to your bank’s representatives, are all features in the latest generation of mobile banking apps. 

In 2017, more than 63 million U.S. adults used a person-to-person payment app on their mobile device. That’s roughly one-third of all smartphone users. This represented a 50-percent increase from 2016. Phone apps such as Venmo, Square Cash, Google Wallet, Zelle and others allow consumers to immediately transfer money from their personal account to a friend. That’s convenient for the non-cash-carrying parent who owes the room mom for a teacher’s gift, or for the parent of a college student who just realized they have 32 cents in their account and they need money – now! No check writing, no wait for funds to transfer – payment complete!

On a broader scale, technology hands the control of personal banking, budgeting and even applying for a mortgage loan to the hands of the customer.

By simply taking a photo of a check you need to deposit with your smartphone and submitting that photo through the bank’s mobile app, the deposit is complete. Consumers who take advantage of the ease, convenience and security of online or mobile banking can also enjoy the options of automatic bill payments, transaction monitoring, the ability to temporarily suspend the use of ATM cards and 24/7 account access - all at no cost.

Technology can help families put the numbers into perspective in terms of what is being spent where, areas of excessive spending, recommendations for adjustments and even options for saving. A few money management mobile apps worth exploring include:

Mint – For use in mobile or online budgeting. Mint tracks spending habits, sets bill reminders, is customizable, offers recommendations on budget adjustments and provides a free credit score, in addition to other features.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) - YNAB is geared toward those who are new to budgeting. It recommends budgeting practices and offers suggestions for adjustments when unexpected expenses arise. YNAB offers online classes and access to an advisor, if interested.

Mvelopes – An app based on the concept of budgeting via envelopes for different expenses. When the virtual envelope is empty, it’s empty. No borrowing from other areas.

Acorns – For those in favor of some savings on the side. Acorns rounds credit and debit purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the cash difference into exchange-traded funds that you’ve pre-selected. 

For budget-savvy, or budget-desperate, parents – there are resources literally at your fingertips. Some are free; others charge a fee.

Making a concerted effort to find and utilize mobile and online money management tools can help make the family to-do list more manageable, freeing up time for activities you enjoy. When managed well, you could end up with a little extra savings at the end of the year.

Ashley Landon is a branch sales manager for Arvest Bank in Miami. She can be contacted at alandon@arvest.com.

Tags: Technology
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