In the past decade, the thriving industry of financial technology has churned out a continual wave of tools designed to help us foster healthy financial habits and stretch our dollars further with minimal fuss. From apps that automate investments to those that enable you to easily split your vacation expenses without the usual friction, we’re highlighting a few of our favorites to try this fall:
Get a handle on your bills using Prism: Available on a variety of platforms, Prism is an excellent solution for anyone who’s struggled with making all of their separate bill payments on time, and needs a way to prevent late fees and other penalties as well as the damaging impact of missed payments on their credit score. Prism makes it easy to track, organize and pay all of your bills in a single place, and provides due date alerts and payment confirmations. Use Prism it to make payments right in the app itself, or schedule a payment for later.
Put spare change to work for you with Acorns: For those who want a low-cost, no-fuss way to invest their pocket change, Acorns can be a great place to begin. For a fee starting at $1 per month (free for college students with certain restrictions), Acorns automatically rounds up purchases on your linked debit or credit cards to the next dollar and deposits the difference in one of six exchange-traded funds (ETFs) of your choosing. For instance, if you pay $3.50 for a large coffee drink using a linked card, the app will invest the remaining $.50 for you. In simple terms, EFTs are broad holdings of stocks or bonds that commonly replicate an asset class or index like the S & P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Try unbury.me to uncover the best path to being debt-free: Although this secure loan calculator has been around since 2011, it was fully redesigned in 2016 for enhanced functionality. Using your current balances and payments, unbury.me shows you the best plan to minimize interest and eliminate debt as soon as possible. As NerdWallet explains, a moveable slider bar enables you to see how altering your monthly payments will reduce the time it will take to pay off debt and save on interest.
Earn gift cards for the holiday shopping that you’re planning to do: With the knowledge that roughly 25 percent of people in the U.S. start holiday shopping in September, it seemed fitting to include one of the most popular shopping apps here. Before you start knocking out your list, be sure to download the Shopkick app, which lets you earn free gift cards in-store or online for several shopping-related activities. You’ll accumulate points (called “kicks) for several different activities, including: walking into stores, scanning product barcodes, buying certain items, submitting receipts and referring others to Shopkick.
Easily split bills with Venmo: You’d be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t, at one point or another, experienced the distress, irritation or discomfort that comes with settling a dinner bill for a large party, collecting money for a shared gift or ensuring that everyone pays their share for a vacation rental. With the digital wallet Venmo, much of the potential stress around shared bills can be eliminated. Free to use with many payment methods (3 percent fee applies to credit cards), the app lets you easily make and receive payments from anyone with an account. As Men’s Journal points out, the fact that it’s a social network can be useful as a tactic to make sure people make good on their payments, because, as the magazine puts it, “everyone can see who’s paid and who hasn’t, shaming the deadbeats into ponying up.” Admittedly, this may sound a bit harsh, but the general idea is clear.
Improve your overall money management with MoneyTrac: In the final analysis, one of the most effective ways to improve your finances is to get a clear sense of your overall position and set realistic goals based on where you currently stand. Using a personal financial management tool such as SFPCU’s MoneyTrac, you can easily combine financial data from all of your separate accounts into one dashboard with real-time updates. This way, you get a complete snapshot of your finances at any given point in time. Free for all SFPCU members, this app makes it simple to securely track and monitor spending, create and maintain a budget, manage debt, set goals and more. Our members also tell us that they appreciate the advertising-free experience, and color-coded bubbles that allow them to quickly focus in on the areas of their financial life in need of attention. Find out how easy it is to get started at http://bit.ly/SFPCUMoneyTrac!