In the past two decades we have seen unprecedented expansion in technological activity that has dramatically altered the way we live our everyday lives. I read books on my phone, order pizza online, track my heart rate on my iWatch, and on and on. The area of personal financial management has seen its fair share of technological advances that have changed the way we interact with our money as well.
Below are some examples of my favorites:
1) At the top of my list is mobile check deposit. It has been around for several years, but it still elicits the same astonished reaction from people who see it for the first time. It’s elegantly simple.
Open your mobile banking app on your smartphone, take a photo of the check, and hit send. The check has been deposited, simple and amazing!
Other mobile banking features allow you to transfer funds or make payments on the go. All of these enhancements increase our convenience and provide us will live data of our balances and transactions. Simple is the best application that I have used at providing these features. However, it is not a bank.
With Simple, you money sits with one of their partner banks (FDIC insured) and they focus on providing an unparalleled user experience. Deposit checks, track purchases, transfer money, all from your mobile device.
2) Mint.com and You Need a Budget take online and mobile banking to another level. These programs take the data produced by your online banking and aggregates and synthesis it into useable information. With very little work, you can establish a monthly budget for your spending and the site will send you alerts and updates on how you are doing staing on budget for the month. For instance, you can be standing in a department store (or shopping online) getting ready to purchase new shoes and pop over to mint.com or check your phone to see that you have $150 left in your monthly clothing budget. This real-time information can help you make decisions to stay on track for your budget goals.
3) Readyforzero is a debt management software application that we have been testing out. It takes your outstanding debt, creates a personalized paydown plan, and encourages you as you make payments along the way. Debt can be one of the most difficult issues in a financial plan as student loan debt continues to grow. People can also be ashamed and debilitated as debt levels grow. Readyforzero turns this cycle around.
4) Finanicalcalculators.com is a site that allows you to tinker with calculations in relations to specific financial goals. It will estimate what is necessary to save for retirement, send your child to college, compare auto loans, and more. These calculators are also presented in the form of questions a client would ask a planner so they are easy to navigate. You input a few pieces of relevant information and the calculator gives you and answer. This is a great site for people to arm themselves with information before they make financial decisions.
While technology continues to improve and change the way that people interact with their finances, it remains difficult to replace a trusted advisor. Many of life’s most important financial decisions come in times of transition or emotion, a job loss, an inheritance, a growing family, or a big promotion. It is at these points in which it is most important to work with an advisor to discuss both the financial and emotional facts of your situation. New technology can be combined with emotional intelligence and professional competence to lead to positive outcomes.
Patrick Amey, CFP is a financial planner at KHC Wealth Management where he works with clients to clarify their goals, create plans, and take action.