We are fortunate to live in a time when have so much technology to make our lives easier. While there are certainly downsides (we’ve all seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day), I’m sure nearly all of us have used an app or website to save time such as buying groceries or movie tickets online. However I still see some resistant to using technology for finances. Let’s address some the ways we can use technology to improve our financial outlook and the concerns we can have about using it.
- Use online banks
Full disclosure: our main checking account is with a traditional brick and mortar bank. I do appreciate the convenience of having an ATM practically on every corner. However my savings and sinking fund accounts are with an online bank.
But is it safe? Online banks are also FDIC insured just like your typical brick and mortar. And since it takes 1-2 business days to transfer money from them to your regular checking account, online banks provide a nice buffer between you and your spending impulses. Finally, many online banks offer higher interest rates compared to many brick and mortar banks.
- Get credit card alerts
You can get a text message each time you use your credit card. This has been so helpful in keeping track of my purchases and updating my budget. It can also be used to catch fraud if your card is ever used to make an unauthorized purchase. Log on to your account and look for large purchase alert. Next set it for the minimum amount, usually between $1-$10. As long as you have unlimited text messaging, there’s little downside to setting up alerts.
- Automate bill paying
How many times have you been slapped with a late fee because you forgot to pay before the due date? Yep, been there too. However, by setting up an automatic payment will ensure that your bills will be paid on time.
But I’m afraid that I won’t have enough money in my account when the Visa/Cable/Rent man cometh. This is a valid fear; if you don’t have enough in your account when the deduction is made you could be hit with an overdraft fee. But there are a couple ways to assuage this fear.
- Have a buffer in your checking account (I.e. create your own overdraft protection)
Think about your largest month expense. For most of us this is our rent or mortage payment. This amount can serve as the bare minimum that should be in your checking account to ensure that you can pay your bills without bouncing any checks. Will it take time to work up that that amount? Absolutely. But even a couple of hundred dollars can give you some needed cushion.
2. Spread out due dates
It can be anxiety inducing if everything is due at the same time each month. However changing some of your due dates can help make sure you’re not having too much withdrawn at once. Just call up your card and utility companies and see if you can make the switcheroo. Most are happy to comply.
- Automate saving
The less you have to think about it, the more likely you will do it. Automating savings is also a great way to ensure that you’ll actually do it. Sometimes we can think “I’ll pay my bills then save whatever’s left.” However, let’s be honest with ourselves (this is a safe space). If it’s in our account, we’re probably going to spend not save it. But if we schedule it, it will happen. Automating our saving prioritizes ourselves and our goals.
- Automate your giving
If you tithe or regularly give to a charity, check to see if automatic deductions are possible. Many churches have set up online giving. DH and I have been doing this for the past few years and it has been a godsend (pun intended). No more having to run back home to get a check or looking to get a check and realize that you’re out of checks. Not that I would know anything about that.
Do you use technology in others ways to manage your finances? Leave a comment below.