Cell phone “apps” have become increasingly popular in the wireless world.
These programs can help you find a restaurant, write a song, and more recently, help to manage your money.
Since the emergence of the first smart phones about four years ago, the popularity of “apps” – short for “application software” – has skyrocketed.
Initially they were created for entertainment purposes but recently, have developed more practical uses, like the ability to organize one’s financial accounts.
Louise Lyman, a fourth year history student at Carleton, says that using the Mint Financial app has greatly helped her in controlling how she spends her money.
“I remember when I first started to use online banking, and how revolutionary I thought that was,” recalls Lyman. “But even with online banking it’s really easy to lose track of how much money you’re spending, and if you’re not aware, you can run out pretty fast.”
EASY TO USE
Intuit, the company that owns Mint, made the app available to Canadians in early 2010. Lyman says that the clean organization and easy access of the Mint app is what makes it such an improvement on other online banking software.
“I really like how the app helps me track my budget. I can enter in the amount of money I want to spend and then it notifies me when I’m close to reaching my personal limit,” says Lyman. “I can even pay bills and transfer funds using my phone.”
Mint is one of the few apps available that actually connects with its customer’s bank account. This allows for very accurate tracking of money spent and earned. The software is also in the preliminary phases of allowing users to pay bills from their phones, although the amount transferred is very limited at this time.
Mint is not the only company that has tapped into the financial management market. Many software developers have created innovative ways of making it easier for people to keep track of their money.
New Zealand based, Simple Home Software, has both a computer program and a cell phone app.
Bill Verstappen, one of the owners of the company that makes the cell phone app Simple Home Money Management G3,, believes that more people are turning to apps because of their easy use.
“More people now tend to do download their bank data to software on their computer because it’s easier to manage,” says Verstappen.
“The software lets them overview where they are at in depth, and with ease, in terms of home finance.”
NOT ALL APPS ARE FREE
Much like Lyman, Verstappen says that the general response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Generally most customers have been very positive about the product and the simplicity of its use,” says Verstappen.
“I think they appreciate that we supply software tools that are simple for them to use and provides them with useful information to manage their finances.”
Some of these money management apps are free, like the one offered by Mint, whereas others can be bought for a small price, like the Simple Home Money Management app, which retails for $30 on its website.
Even governments are beginning to catch on to the effectiveness of these apps and are harnessing their potential to aid their citizens. Just last week, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission launched a personal finance website and free app that offers money advice and tools to its citizens.
Paul Clitheroe, chairman of Australia’s Financial Literacy Board, told the Financial Standard Online that the new technology will help all Australian’s manage their funds better.
“After many years working towards improving the financial literacy of Australians, it’s great to see a simple, straightforward tool that will help people of all levels of financial knowledge take control, make good decisions and improve their financial situation,” says Clitheroe.
GOVERNMENT-APPROVED DOWN UNDER
Australia is the first country to create its own government-regulated money management app, but with their rapidly growing popularity, it’s likely other nations will follow suit.
There is also an array of specialty apps that go beyond merely helping one manage their finances. Investment apps, like yahoo’s Marketdash, allow people to handle their portfolios and have revolutionized the speed at which stocks can be bought and sold. There are also tax apps, like SnapTax which helps you wade through the confusion that often accompanies taxes and actually will fill in the necessary forms with pre-loaded information you have provided.
For Lyman these apps have helped make a once confusing realm a lot more understandable.
“I can’t say that money or numbers was ever a forte of mine, but Mint has helped organize it all and put it into a language that I actually understand.”