Financial Planning Apps

January 12, 2013 7:27:54 AM PST
The new year is always a good opportunity to start fresh, and improving your personal finances finds its way to the top of many resolution lists.

If you feel overwhelmed ? don't worry: there's an app for that! Joan Jensen, president and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois, came into our ABC7 studio to tell us about helpful financial mobile apps.

Above all, she says you should always test drive the free version of an app before investing in the expanded version.

Joan's Tips:

1. Create a Spending Plan

Rather than creating a budget, create a plan for spending.

Decide what is important to you and align your spending around that plan.

By pre-planning where your money goes, your money is working for you rather than having that restrictive feeling often associated with a budget.

Two Apps That Can Help:

- HomeBudget

This Mint.com app simplifies budgeting by tailoring it to personal lifestyle.

It enables user to monitor spending in real time showing exactly how each spending decision will impact how much you have left at the end of the month or year.

- Pageonce

This popular app from Pageonce.com offers a simple, powerful, and complete way to manage money with the tools and resources needed to make confident and informed, day-to-day financial decisions.

2. Reduce Debt and Eliminate Late Fees

Credit card debt and late fees are two major money-draining culprits facing people trying to get a handle on their finances.

Credit cards make it far too easy to spend more money than you have, while interest rates and late fees needlessly drain financial resources.

Two Apps That Can Help:

- Manilla

Manilla alerts you to payment due dates with auto reminders that will lessen the risk of late fees.

- Debt Payoff Pro

This app (from SVTSoftware.com) utilizes the popular Debt-snowball method to track expenses and pay off debt more quickly.

3. Plan Ahead

The more time you have to accomplish your financial goals, the better the odds of being successful.

Two Apps That Can Help:

- SmartMoney Retirement Planner from Dow Jones & Company, Inc. lets you see how working, saving and spending decisions impact your retirement plan.

This app even lets you test different scenarios to see how they might affect your retirement.

- SmartyPig is an app for helping to save up money for specific future purchases, like a computer, a vacation, or even the down payment on a new home.

The app monitors your regular deposits into a SmartyPig account and notifies you when you reach your pre-established goal.

4. Build Endurance

Your personal finances will always experience some ups and downs.

The key to success is to develop a plan and stick with it.

If you try one software program or mobile application tool and find it confusing or you don't like it, try another one. Remember, there is no one-size fixes all solution when it comes to personal finances.

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