12 Powerful Ways Data Can Help Clean Up Your Finances

Author

Taylor Hatmaker

April 10, 2014

With the deadline of financial spring cleaning looming large, it's only natural to panic at the hopeless money morass you're wading through. Or maybe you're on your financial game but looking for a more granular way to keep tabs on your bank accounts, credit, investments and loans.

Maybe what you really need is more data—that, and the best tools to manage it and your finances. Arming yourself so you can watch and execute every aspect of your financial life is empowering—and if you believe tha more data is better than less (and for the most part you should), it's extremely satisfying, too. Here are our favorite apps for managing all things money.

Make Budgeting (Almost) Fun: Mint

Mint is the reigning king of online money management—and with good reason. Mint makes keeping an eye on transactions across all of your accounts useful at-a-glance, and scanning individual account information is as easy as clicking a drop-down menu. 

You can go as deep as you want, tagging individual transactions like work expenses, searching across all accounts at once, pooling your account histories all in one place (extremely useful for tracking when Comcast hikes up your bill, for example) and showing you where your cash goes. Mint offers a bit of basic financial planning too, with tips on saving and customizable notifications for high spending. If you’ve heard a ton about it but haven’t checked it our for yourself, Mint manages to live up to its excellent reputation.

Download Mint.

Best Bird’s Eye View: Manilla

While it seems like a direct Mint competitor at first gloss, the two apps complement each other well. Like Mint, Manilla offers an overview of all of your accounts, but it adds some unique features into the mix. You can link up all kinds of accounts to Manilla, including billing accounts for utilities and phone service, travel rewards memberships, and media subscriptions like Netflix and The New York Times.

The idea is that by getting all of your bills and memberships in one place, you won’t get slammed with late fees. If you opt to authorize it, you can view your bills on Manilla and auto-login to connected accounts to pay them easily.

Download Manilla.

Your Credit Score Gets Less Scary: Credit Karma

Credit Karma makes it easy to view and monitor your credit—and it does it for free. Checking your credit score is a notoriously difficult process that many people only undertake on an annual basis, if at all, because it’s just that annoying. With Credit Karma, it's as simple as logging into the app, which updates your score weekly.

Credit Karma isn’t perfect—its scores, provided by Transunion, don’t always match up with the official FICO score used by most lenders. But it usually tracks FICO pretty closely, and with a lot less hassle. Our favorite feature is that the service explains the factors that go into your current credit score and how to improve them. Credit Karma transforms checking your credit score from a dreaded once-a-year ritual to a daily habit, and that’s pretty empowering.

Download Credit Karma for iOS/Android.

9 More Awesome Personal Finance Apps 

  • Square Cash: Send money through email easily with no fees.
  • Yahoo Finance: Keep tabs on the market with Yahoo's attractively redesigned iOS app.
  • BettermentTend your investment portfolio.
  • Evernote: Save and search receipts, bills and just about anything.
  • Splitwise: Split and pay shared bills easily.
  • Personal Cap: If "wealth management" sounds more your speed than divvying up a Netflix subscription.
  • CheckAnother option for getting your bills paid like a boss.
  • Bitcoin Checker (Android)/Coin Ticker (iOS): If you're crazy (like a fox?) enough to hold any crypto-currencies, here's a convenient way to keep tabs on what they're worth in the world of old-fashioned money.

 A word on security: If you’re going to get into the business of mobile banking, take every security precaution at your disposal. Choosing unique, strong passwords is a must and opting for two-factor authentication whenever possible is a good idea too. Enable services like that lock down your device should it get lost or stolen.

Protect yourself as you revel in the ease of mobile banking—and pay your bills on time, too. 

Header image by Taylor Hatmaker

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