Ann Neal- We all know how to work towards financial freedom and a happy retired life – save judiciously, track your spending, reduce debts and invest wisely. But more often than not, this is easier said than done. Unreasonable lifestyle choices, poor financial decisions and the lack of planning are the topmost reasons why people end up with inadequate or no retirement corpus.
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According to a Franklin Templeton Investment survey of 2000 adults in January 2016, 57% report that they have not begun saving for retirement yet. This can delay your retirement corpus by several years and lead to a lowered quality of life in your golden years. To avoid this pitfall, start saving money today.
Because smart phones have become an integral part of our lives, why not use it to save money?
In addition to coupon apps that help in getting freebies, here are a few apps you can consider to curb spending and start saving.
1. Spending Tracker
Spending Tracker is a popular personal finance app available on Android and iOS platforms, and has a different layout for tablet users. It is also available in Windows store. The app is free of cost and helps you keep tabs on your spending habits.
You can track expenses by month, week or year, and see summaries of expenditures. You can create various categories like fuel, food, clothes, travel and entertainment. You can also track your salary and the various times you get paid, and compare how you balance spending with your income from various sources.
Spending Tracker helps you see where you spend most of your money. For millennials, this can serve as a wakeup call and encourage cutting back on unnecessary expenses.
This personal finance app is available in the App Store and is a smart and simple way to stay on top of money-related matters. Albert is free and provides insights into your financial standing. You also get in-app financial advice and personalized recommendations, helping you know about suitable insurance plans and methods to pay off high interest loans.
The app is less of a banking app, but it has relationships with big financial institutions allowing you to get a loan, automate savings and get insurance with a few taps. All data is encrypted, none of your banking credentials are stored and all servers are held to the highest industry standards. The startup offering Albert recently closed $2.5 million in seed funding and is gaining popularity among users aged 20-40.
3. Level Money
Level Money is a free app available on iOS and Android platforms. It gives you a bird’s eye view of how things are faring in the deep confines of your wallet.
The app calculates your income on a daily basis and subtracts your regular expenses from it to reveal how much money is remaining. Based on the daily average, the app also estimates how much you can spend in a month, week or a year. You get updates throughout the day regarding your spendable income and financial standing.
You can set categories to track spending on individual items. For instance, if you set ‘coffee’ as a category and ask the app to track all debits from your favorite cafes, you will get a good idea of where your money is going. Based on the averages, the app will also provide you with a bank-balance chart, showing how much of a dent the category will make in your savings over a period of time. This will help you evaluate your spending pattern and act to save more.
4. Prosper Daily
Prosper Daily is a cool money app that helps you spot identity theft and stop potential fraud. It was previously known as BillGuard and has a user community of more than a million. The app can be used on both, Android and IOS devices and the basic version is free of cost. For the advanced features, you can buy the paid version, which provides sophisticated identity-protection products.
You can monitor the flow of money to all your accounts from one place and also track your credit score for free. All transactions carried out through credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts are organized into the Smart Inbox that provides timely analytic reports, alerts and charge details.
You will also be able to detect and eliminate sneaky recurring charges that you may otherwise overlook. Forgotten Internet subscriptions, memberships and other expenses are laid bare by Prosper Daily. You are able to view balances, interest rates and due dates of all debts in a single place, thus making debt management easier. Reducing debts is very important if you want to achieve financial freedom and Prosper Daily helps you do that.
5. YNAB (You Need a Budget)
YNAB assigns a job to each dollar, where it will be allocated to be spent on clothes, food, travel or groceries. With all your expenses accounted for, you will no longer run out of cash when a bill comes in. This saves you unnecessary stress and tension, and makes your finances better organized.
The app also breaks down larger expenses involving anniversaries or holidays into monthly or weekly expenses allowing you to save for them on a regular basis.
YNAB encourages you to age money by at least 30 days before spending it. This allows you to be comfortably ahead with your finances and breaks the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck. The app is available for Web, Android and iPhone, and plans start at $50 a year with a free trial period of 34 days.
Financial discipline will help you track and limit spending, reduce debts and save money. It will also enable you to save for retirement and gain financial peace of mind. Budgeting and financial planning apps do not have a solution for every problem, but they can surely help you clean up your spending habits and be more prudent with saving money.
Ann Neal is a freelance writer who covers technology and business. You can follow her on Twitter @Ann_G_Neal.