How many money apps do you have? Turns out, the perfect number might be two: a budgeting app and an investment tracker.
At Business Insider, Eric Rosenberg explains that these apps are the “... most important tools I use to manage my own personal finances whether I’m on my laptop or with mobile apps on the go.”
I also have these two apps, and I agree with Rosenberg — with a budgeting app and an investment tracker, you have an excellent understanding of not only where your finances are today, but where they might take you in the future.
Budgeting apps keep you from overspending
The budgeting app keeps track of your income and expenses, warns you when you start overspending, and lets you monitor your total net worth. Rosenberg uses Mint, but I prefer YNAB — its “give every dollar a job” system has revolutionised the way I look at my finances, and my net worth has grown by $27K since I started using the app six months ago.
The big reason why I prefer YNAB to Mint (I’ve tried both) is because YNAB forces you to deal with the consequences of your spending. We all overspend our budget now and then — but when you overspend with YNAB, the app asks you to rebalance your budget right away, with money you planned to spend in the future. That extra dinner out this month might mean less money in your clothing budget for next month, for example.
If you spend less than you planned, on the other hand, that money rolls into next month’s budget. This means you can save up for a special treat — or decide it’s time to move those dollars from “dining out” to “vacation” or “investing.”
Investment trackers encourage you to invest more
There are three big reasons why my net worth has grown by $27K in the past six months:
As a freelancer, I’m always looking for ways to increase my income.
YNAB has helped me identify which expenses I can cut from my budget.
After earning more money and cutting expenses, I’ve been pouring a lot more money into investments.
Even though Vanguard investment tracker doesn’t come with a goal-setting feature (like Personal Capital), I’m still encouraged to invest more money simply by having the app on my phone. When I check the app and see how much my investments have grown over time, I get a dose of positive reinforcement and a reminder that the more I invest, the bigger my principal and the more opportunity for growth.
If the market is down and my investment values have dropped, I view it as a reminder that stocks are on sale today — so why not take advantage of a bargain?
I’ve got my apps both in my bookmarks bar and on my phone — not just so I can access them with a single click, but also so that whenever I grab my phone to check the weather or listen to a podcast, I get this little visual reminder that I am a person who budgets and invests and tracks her finances.
Which, in turn, reminds me to check in with my apps and see how my money is doing.