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6 Personal Finance Apps to Keep Consumers on Track

As a smartphone owner, you probably have downloaded dozens of applications, or “apps.” From games to fitness and nutrition trackers to e-readers, the mobile nature and ease of use make apps a popular choice for individuals of all ages and walks of life.

One of the most popular uses for apps is to help consumers engage in online banking. About 50 percent of U.S. smartphone users regularly utilize apps to monitor their bank account balances and transactions. Whether balancing their checkbooks or weighing large purchases, mobile banking app users benefit greatly from 24/7 access to their financial information.

To go beyond the basic functions of banking apps, a diverse array of financial apps has recently cropped up. These products expand on basic balance-checking to provide sophisticated services with which consumers can set, monitor, and achieve complex financial goals.

But which one (or more) of these personal finance apps is right for you? Read on to learn which applications have made a splash in 2014, and how they work for their users.

How personal finance apps help consumers

Among the many apps available to consumers, few provide the value or insight of personal finance applications. “Personal finance apps are an easy and inexpensive way for people to monitor their financial goals,” says BankingSense.com editor Natalie Cooper.

“With all that information at their fingertips, consumers are more in control of their money than ever.” The numerous functions of personal finance apps include:

Tracking spending
If you’re trying to rein in monthly expenditures, you can monitor purchases on multiple accounts in real time, which will help you understand where to make adjustments.

Tracking savings goals
Setting amounts and milestones for savings – whether for an emergency fund, vacation, down payment on a house, or other significant purchase – becomes simpler and more exciting when consumers can view their progress with a few swipes.

Detecting identity theft
Side-by-side analysis of account use helps users quickly determine where and when discrepancies happen, and make swift action to investigate them a breeze.

Building wealth
By monitoring overall fund availability rather than “cash on hand,” customers make better financial decisions that increase wealth in the long run.

Personal finance apps to try in 2014

In 2014, mobile application developers have created more personal finance apps than ever to help consumers perform the many functions they need to stay informed and in control of their budgets. These include:

Mint
Perhaps the best-known and most popular personal finance app, Mint provides users with a wide array of services, from expense tracking to savings goals to spending alerts and investment management. It also analyzes consumers’ individual spending habits to recommend financial products, although these optional services come at an additional charge for the user.

BillGuard
Ideal for individuals with multiple credit cards, this application carefully examines statements for suspicious charges. It also helps identify merchants who have engaged in questionable practices, such as charging credit cards for products or services without the customer’s consent. Users rest easier when they know this app provides additional oversight and notifies them when something looks awry.

Checkbook
Reconciling checkbooks and additional financial accounts becomes easier with this iPhone app. Its simple design and features (including currency selection and data export) help you manage your expenses and income.

Budget Boss
For individuals less focused on financial planning and more interesting in managing household budgets, this app represents a useful, targeted tool. Users create monthly budgets, import their banking information, and watch how their expenditures line up with their goals. Constant updates can help you make immediate adjustments to keep working toward your objectives.

LearnVest
Those who wish to learn more about investments will enjoy the extensive reading material this iPhone app offers. Users select their topics of interest, and the app provides content to reflect these preferences. It also offers a wide range of personal finance tracking options similar to those provided by Mint.

Check
Consumers tired of missing payment deadlines and accruing late fees will appreciate this app, which helps you organize all your bills in one place according to their due dates. You can then use the app to pay each provider online with a few swipes and clicks.

Personal finance management may present challenges, but with these and other apps, consumers enjoy greater understanding of and control over their budgets. As more users engage in active use of personal finance apps, our collective financial literacy is bound to grow.

Have you used one or more apps to manage your finances?

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