Do You Really Need a Budget App?
If you’ve ever done an online search on personal finance, you’ve probably come across several articles extolling the benefits of budget apps. Truly, these nifty bits of software are great at helping everyone, from the financially illiterate to budgeting masters, keep track of their money. If you’re at all concerned with your personal finances, a budget app is your next best friend.
Check out the myTrustmark® online and mobile banking app, and its budgeting feature, Financial Tools. You can create budgets, track your spending, schedule payments and set up alerts. It’s easy, convenient and can help you keep your finances in check.
Why you need a budget app
Personal finance apps - applications for smartphones and tablets that keep track of your spending - are the most convenient budgeting option available. Sure, you could carry around a pen and notepad all day, manually recording every transaction you make, but this method is incredibly cumbersome and not at all conducive to today’s speedy, tech-connected environment.
Why are apps better?
- They’re faster. A good budget app links directly to your bank account, so every transaction you make with your credit or debit card is automatically recorded. No need to fish for a pencil and write down every purchase.
- They’re easy to access. Install the app on your smartphone, and you can check your budget wherever you are. This really comes in handy when you can’t decide whether to make that last-minute Starbucks purchase!
- They keep you more accountable than a bank account alone. With a budget app, you’ll see every transaction and it’s total amount, and you can categorize your payments into different types such as groceries, recreation, bills and more. This way, you can more easily see where the bulk of your money goes.
On that note, what are the benefits of a budget app?
- They show how close you are to meeting your financial goals. Personal finance apps help you limit your excess spending and save for multiple goals (like going back to school and saving for a home at the same time).
- They provide insight into your spending. Without looking at your finances carefully, you might not realize how much money you spend on eating out, drinks and other little extras that are hindering your financial goals. Budget apps categorize spending into different types, so it’s easier for you to get important insights from them than from your bank statement alone. Sometimes these truths can be uncomfortable to face, but you need to address them in order to keep yourself afloat.
- They force you to prioritize. Budget apps provide clear visibility into where your money goes, helping you make better decisions about your spending habits.
What to look for in a personal finance app
All of the benefits above are common across any budget app. That said, the specifics of each app vary widely. The following features are things you definitely want yours to have:
- Spending categories that make sense (or the ability to create your own). Do hair products go in groceries or clothing? Is rent a bill, or should it be its own category? You want an app that lets you filter your spending in ways that make sense to you. Otherwise, you won’t be able to track your purchases as accurately.
- Linking to bank accounts. Linking your checking and savings accounts, as well as your credit card, will automatically sync data between your bank and the app. You’ll be able to track your spending in real time, helping you make more informed decisions. Keep in mind that not all apps sync with every bank, so check to make sure your financial provider is on their list.
- Manual input options. Some people prefer cash or check payments in some instances. For example, your landlord may require checks for rent, or you often shop at a convenience store that’s cash only. Manual input lets you keep track of these purchases, too.
- Automated alerts. Apps with automatic “low balance” alerts keep you from encountering overdraft fees or tapping into your savings. Some apps also let you schedule important dates - like when your car payment or student loan payment is due - and send you a message ahead of time.
Banks offer a lot of personal finance advisors, from investment options to debt relief counseling. But they can’t do everything, and they certainly can’t warn you when you’re about to make an ill-advised purchase. Budget apps, on the other hand, keep you aware of your spending at any moment, forcing you to account for your financial habits. It might be a shock to see how much you spend in a particular area, but it’s important to notice these bad habits and work toward breaking them.
By using a personal finance app like myTrustmark, you can easily switch to a saving - rather than a spending - mindset.