By CHARMAINE NG
Can you remember the last time you went somewhere without your phone? I even sleep with mine next to my pillow. Now I don't recommend being attached to your phone 24/7, but it can save the day sometimes. For example, if I'm away from my computer and I can't remember if I paid a bill or not, using an app to check my statement gives me peace of mind.
Whether or not you're glued to your mobile device, try adding these crucial personal finance apps to your toolbox. You just may find yourself reaching for your phone more often (and not to text!).
View your budgets at-a-glance: Self-described as "the mobile money meter," Level's dashboard clearly displays how much money you have available today, this week and this month in three different bubbles. In other words, you can open Level and know right away how much money you can spend. The "Spendable" amount - as Level calls it - is calculated after accounting for your income, bills and savings goals. Using Level is a convenient way to stay on top of your budgets with little time and effort.
Consider this: You can tell the app the percentage of your monthly income you would like to automatically save, and unspent cash is rolled over from month to month. But you can't set aside money for specific categories. If you're used to budgeting the old-fashioned way, this could be an adjustment or not customizable enough for you.
Organize your bills and go digital: Doxo is for the people out there running around with their heads cut off. If you're juggling more bills than you can keep track of, use Doxo to store your login details, receive e-statements and pay bills directly from the app. For everyday purchases, snap a photo of the receipt and upload it to the app. You can even automatically back up your documents to the cloud. You'll never have a hard time finding that long-lost receipt again.
Consider this: Since everything is saved and digitized for you, you may be tempted to throw out paper receipts and documents that could be helpful down the road. You're also more likely to forget your login information because you're used to Doxo automatically presenting everything to you.
Stop mysterious charges: BillGuard takes transaction monitoring to the next level. The app asks you to verify all of your transactions and tells if you if a merchant has been repeatedly flagged by BillGuard users. If you don't recognize a charge, you can contact the merchant right from the app. In short, the app helps you fight against grey charges, which are transactions that result from misleading advertising or limited free trials.
Consider this: With "bill" in its name, you might assume that this app lets you pay your bills, but that isn't the case here. It's only focused on helping you sift through the intricacies of your bills. If you aren't being mischarged, you may get bored marking all of your charges as legitimate ones. Then again, if you are being mischarged, you'll wish that you had kept up with this app.
Pay all of your bills in one place: With more than 8,000 providers in its database, Check likely has you covered. Collect all of your bills in one app and rest easy. You can use Check to pay bills, schedule future and recurring payments and set up alerts. At the beginning of the month, use the app's calendar to plan your payments. Spending a little time with Check will help you keep your bills in order.
Consider this: You may be fine sticking with your lender's banking app. I, for one, feel more confident knowing that I paid for a bill and moved money within my accounts directly from my bank's app. There's also a two-day delay between when you pay a bill through Check and when the payment actually goes through. It may not sound like a lot of time to wait, but when you're in an "Oh no!" moment, you want that payment going through as soon as possible.
Check your credit score and credit report information: With a 5-star average rating on both iOS and Android, how could we not mention our own app? Using Credit Karma, you can monitor your credit score anytime, track your reported balance history and review how you're doing on key credit score factors. On the iPhone app, we'll even recommend ways you can save money and improve your credit health.
Consider this: At this time, we only provide scores from TransUnion. We purchase each and every score, so costs can add up - but hey, we still think the app's worth it!
Convinced? From budgeting to bill-pay, if you have a personal finance need, you bet there's an app out there that fulfills it. You can't beat apps for convenience. And this list goes to show that you can take care of your money without having to whip out your wallet. Cheers to that!
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