Within the last couple of decades, we have seen a tremendous change in the way we handle our money and conduct our personal finances. Using cash to pay for our everyday expenses such as our morning coffee, lunch, or groceries is less common — even schoolchildren swipe ID cards to pay for lunches instead of carrying lunch money. We sign for our purchases electronically and use smartphone apps to keep track of it all. Here are several ways that technology is changing our personal money management, investing, and budgeting strategies.
Image via Flickr by shinya
Using a credit or debit card instead of carrying cash is nothing new, but even that may soon be a thing of the past. If you forget your wallet, no problem — your smartphone can do the job.
Apple Pay is now accepted at over 4 million locations throughout the U.S., and Apple claims that it represents over 90 percent of all contactless payments where it’s available. Even a smartphone is no longer necessary because you can now pay with your Apple Watch, as well. Simply enter or scan your credit card information, and when paying at a terminal that is equipped to accept contactless payments, you’ll authenticate with your fingerprint, a code, or face-recognition technology. Google Pay and Samsung Pay are options for Android users.
Not only can you pay with your smartphone, you can also collect payments with it. Using a device that plugs into your headphone jack, Square, PayPal, and several other vendors offer the capability to swipe a credit card anywhere there’s mobile data service — a handy tool for anyone who collects payments on the go, such as craft-fair vendors. Bluetooth contactless chip readers are available for owners of the iPhone 7 and up (which lack headphone jacks). Imagine how that could improve your church bake sale!
Online banking is nothing new. For over a decade — or even longer, depending on your bank — you’ve been able to log in and check your balance, make transfers, and pay bills. These services are improving, however, in both convenience and security.
Smartphone apps give you the ability to deposit checks into your account without a trip to the bank — just snap a photo. You can set up automatic bill payments so you’re never late again, and you always have access to your bank statements for easy expense tracking. One of the best features of online banking is the notification feature. Set it up to notify you when your balance falls below a certain amount, every time a transaction takes place, or when it’s almost time to pay a bill.
Getting a loan or a mortgage used to require a trip to the bank to sign closing documents. With an electronic signature, you can sign documents anywhere with just a click of your mouse in an email. Not only does this save you a trip to the bank, it also opens up a world of possibilities for banking remotely. You can shop a wider market for loan offers from financial institutions in other parts of the country or even banks that conduct business entirely online. Digital signatures are even more secure, requiring multiple levels of encryption to help prevent fraudulent transactions.
In the old days, investing in a stock portfolio required a financial manager or broker along with hefty fees and paperwork. Now, you can choose from dozens of online investment companies with low transaction fees that make “day trading” an interesting hobby.
The newest innovations in online investing, however, are micro-investing apps. Smartphone apps such as Stash, Acorns, and Betterment allow you to invest painlessly by rounding up your daily purchases or making small, regular automatic deductions from your bank account and buying fractional shares of stock. Although this should only be a small part of your investment strategy, it’s fun and you can learn a lot about investing and financial planning in the process.
Money management technology, such as websites and smartphone apps, is changing the way we handle our money. While many of these options are targeted toward millennials, even older generations should take time to learn about these new opportunities for managing finances and budgeting. You’ll love the convenience they offer, and they might even help you get out of debt and grow your savings.