Arm Yourself: Easy Tips for Consumer Finance Protection

Our money sits in many places — checking, savings, 401k, credit cards, and other investments.

It can be hard to keep track of, and if we’re not careful, we could be in too deep with all that data.

Technology can be a powerful tool to gain back control of the money we earn, save and spend.

Debunk the Myths

Before you can even think about using tech to solve financial woes, you need to understand what are the correct and, more importantly, incorrect methods to accomplishing goals. According to Business Insider, you’d be surprised how some of the most common financial assumptions are completely false. For an example:

  • Budgeting isn’t always the best way to save money. Instead of telling yourself “I have $1000 to spend on a TV,” say “I’m looking for a 45″ TV and want to find the best deal.”
  • Higher degrees don’t always equal a higher pay. The area of study determines the value of your degree, not the level.
  • Financial aid doesn’t always go to the neediest. Aid is distributed to families of all economic statuses and can vary depending on the university.
  • More than one factor or formula determines your FICO score. There are dozens of different models for determining your credit score, and you should check multiple resources to make sure they match.

Now that you know some of the basic myths of finance. You’re ready to arm yourself with the proper tools.

Basic Financial Apps

The first step is to find a basic app that manages your checking, savings and credit card debt. Mint.com is an ideal, and free, choice because it can link with all your accounts, detect changes or anomalies, send notifications, and has a free app for the iPhone or Android user.

Once you set up the basic features with the service, you’ll want to use Mint to set goals for saving and paying down debt. There’s a section of the website that lets you choose goals, pick a time frame, and get advice on how to pay or save effectively. You’ll want to stick with a basic app like Mint until you feel the balance between your savings and debts are organized.

Advanced Investing Apps

Once basic finances are in order, you’ll want to consider a higher level of investing. This can be anything from IRAs to mutual funds, but no matter what you choose, you’ll need a way to track every last detail of your money. SigFig is a new web app that’s similar to Mint except it specializes in investment portfolios instead of basic checking and savings. If you’ve ever worked with enterprise software like Liquid Holdings this will be a familiar site; But even the board members like Richard Schaeffer would use a small-scale app like SigFig for personal investments.

Peer-to-Peer Payments

If you’ve had experience shopping on Amazon or eBay then you’ve likely seen or used PayPal before. The instant service can be tempting to abuse when shopping online, but facilitates smart spending when it comes to giving money to friends. If you have active PayPal accounts, you can do things like split the cost of meals, outings, and other events.

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