The world of personal finance can be incredibly intimidating, especially for those just starting out. As you begin learning financial literacy, you probably have no idea what an ETF or REIT is, let alone how to trade them on the stock market exchange or monitor their performance. Even the simple act of budgeting can prove a challenge for those who don’t know the difference between fixed and variable expenses.
If you’re interested in taking your finances more seriously, but don’t know how or where to start, there’s good news: you don’t need to hire an expensive financial advisor to show you the ropes. Here are three ways you can use technology to achieve the same results and manage your money like a pro.
1. Install an App for Personal Recommendations
Who needs to pay a financial advisor by the hour when you can get the same advice from an online app, free of charge? The hardest part is setting up the app, connecting your bank accounts, and inputting various bills, but once the groundwork is laid, you can have a personalized budget in front of you within minutes.
Depending on what app you go with, your dashboard can provide you with different insights. For example, some apps will give you a side-by-side comparison of how much money you currently have in green, versus how much credit card debt you owe in red. You can also view a color-coded pie chart that breaks down spending by category, giving you a quick look at how much of your money is going toward shopping or dining out.
With this information at hand, you can set a cap on how much you’ll allow yourself to spend on each category and monitor your progress throughout the month. Some even allow you to create custom budgets for personal goals, whether that may be a down payment on a home or a spring break vacation.
If you’re the “tough love” type, some apps can even roast your spending habits to help you get your finances in line. From identifying various fees incurred, to tallying up the total cost of your monthly subscriptions, there are all sort of apps you can download for real advice.
2. Research Advanced Algorithms for Investment Suggestions
When you pay a professional to manage your wealth, part of the price tag is justified by the financial advisor technology tools you gain access to. These help your advisor uncover market insights and identify assets with the potential to boost the performance of the portfolio—but they wouldn’t let you know that. Instead, they’ll market these strategies as their own personal recommendations, when in actuality, they simply ran a search based on your preferred risk assessment.
You can save a ton of money by accessing these advanced search algorithms on your own. Free stock scanners keep you informed by allowing you to track the real-time performance of any stock or index. Create watch lists, analyze personal holdings, find trade opportunities, and read breaking financial news all in one, easy-to-read dashboard.
Not quite ready to enter the big leagues of stock trading? No problem. Download an app for beginners to find the best investment opportunities. All you need to do is determine the level of risk you’re willing to take on, and these intelligent platforms will build a personalized portfolio recommendation with a diverse mixture of assets.
If you don’t have much capital to invest in the market, consider linking your debit card to the technology, rounding up each transaction to the nearest whole dollar, and investing spare change into your portfolio. It’s a great way to start small, learn about various assets and the returns they yield, and compound interest overtime. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you can grow a few cents here and there into sizeable savings.
3. Download Tax Preparation Software
Another common reason people turn to financial advisors is for assistance with their tax preparation. They’d rather hire a professional to file taxes for them, eliminating the time requirement and margin for error, as well as opening the door to tax-saving opportunities they’d be otherwise unaware of.
Although a recent PC Mag survey revealed that 37% of respondents file their own taxes, the same amount of people still hire an accountant or financial advisor for help. Unless your tax situation is extremely complex, save yourself money by using sophisticated technology that can walk you through the entire process, step-by-step, finding you savings along the way.
You don’t need to spend money to save money; use these three strategies to turn technology into your own advisor for a fraction of the price.