Your money, your life: Does this app save or break my bank?
Q. I use the Digit smartphone app to save money, and they just announced a new feature that helps put money aside to pay off debt. Do apps like this help?
We’re glad you’re looking for ways to take control of your finances. Technology can be an effective tool for organizing and monitoring your financial picture. With that being said, we always tend to approach “free” apps with a bit of scrutiny. It’s important to pay attention to the fine print and understand what you’re really signing up for.
Many apps offer a free trial period and begin charging you after that or require you to open an account with them to benefit from the rewards. Digit works by analyzing your spending and automatically moving money from your checking account to your Digit account when you can afford it. It does, however, cost $2.99 per month. Also, with financial apps, security is especially important. Sensitive financial data is often linked to these accounts, so protection is critical to prevent this data from ending up in the wrong hands.
However, the bigger issue is something we see in the app-friendly world when we end up with multiple apps performing similar tasks. As busy adults, we look for shortcuts—which can speed along basic tasks, true—but also sometimes start to head down a road before we even know where we're going.
When it comes to finances, we think the first step is developing a plan with or without a financial professional that helps you pursue your goals. Once this plan is in place, technology and other tools can be enlisted to keep the plan on track.
Psych hint: Remember: Research shows that pursuing a goal with intentionality can be more fulfilling than actually achieving the goal—meaning, the journey is as important as the destination.
Editor's note: Do you have a question for this money management duo? Shoot an email to [email protected] and they'll take a look!
Dr. David Lazenby is director of Advanced Planning at Kalibr, a financial consulting firm in St. Louis, Missouri. Stephen Brinker is a consultant at Kalibr. In Stephen's spare time, he hunts, cycles, watches hockey and spends time with his wife (a veterinarian) and pets.