Personal finance technology: friend or foe?

Published on July 31st, 2013 by Andrew McBay.
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You know that feeling of dread when you realise you missed a bill payment? Or what about the anxiety when you discover you’ll end the month short of funds due to poor planning?

If you said “yes” (and come on, we’ve all been there), there’s only one solution: manage your finances better. I know, easier said than done, but it’s the only way to stop the late fees and negative balances and take back control of your finances.
My clients often tell me they lack the know-how to do this. And, who has the time? Setting up a spreadsheet for some calculations after a hard day of work is no one’s idea of fun.

Luckily, there’s a range of new industry developments, websites, software and apps to help you get back in the driver’s seat. Whether you’re looking to fix your budget or prepare your taxes, technology can help.

The speed of change
The banking industry has been around for centuries. As time has passed, it has changed bit by bit to become what it is today. In the last decade, however, the rate of change has accelerated. Cheques and paper statements are all but obsolete, and online and mobile banking are rapidly on the rise.

It’s undeniable. Technology is here to stay, so don’t shy away; embrace it! Online banking can help you stay on top of your finances on the go – NO waiting, NO queues, NO hassle. You can even set reminders and automatic payments so you can stop worrying all the time.

There’s also a wealth of exciting new financial websites, software and apps on the market, most of them free. Sites like MoneySupermarket.com allow you to compare prices to get the best deal possible, and TurboTax.com helps you prepare your taxes and maximise deductions. Apps like Mint, Savings Goals, PageOnce, Expensify and Account Tracker allow you to set goals, track your accounts, monitor your financial health and drive efficiency in your finances. Make sure that an overall plan and view of your accounts and finances are taken into account when setting up auto payments and the like. Understanding your CASHFLOW and the timing around that will assist in debits being attempted and the money not being in there! 3-4 months of bills and the corresponding period of account statements will show you your CASHFLOW to time the payments correctly.

New opportunities, new challenges
These tools can and should be leveraged – they can really help you get your head around your finances. A big benefit is that many of these tools allow you to see and manage your finances in one central location (and did I mention the no queues or being put on hold for hours on the phone?). It allows you to access your finances in a way you can understand and, more importantly, control.

That’s the good news. Now, for the bad. There are challenges with any new technology, especially in the areas of privacy and security. Yes, using these tools will slightly increase your chances of being exposed to fraud. No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them.

You just need to be selective in which tools, sites and apps you choose. The top brand ones are highly protected and they’re as secure as carrying around a credit card. Many companies are taking extra steps. Many mobile apps, for example, allow you to remotely deactivate your account if your phone is stolen.

The verdict?

The reality is that technology is here to stay and the benefits of leveraging it are simply too great to ignore. So, jump in – your bank account will thank you later.

If you have any questions or would just like some advice, get in touch today! We can help you leverage personal finance technology to get to your goals FAST.

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