Here’s Why You Should Switch to Online Banking

When it comes to banking, individuals often default to what they know best. And that’s traditional banking. Unfortunately for them, they’re likely going to face a lifetime of long lines and hidden fees. Well…it’s not that bad but there are surely better solutions. Thanks to online banking you can now do all your banking without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.

If that’s not convincing enough, here are a few other reasons why you should make the switch to online banking.

Convenience

The bottom line is that it’s much easier to access your online bank than a traditional one. When you use a traditional bank you need to adhere to their business hours in order to access your funds and accounts.

If you work full-time then it’s often difficult to carve time out of your day to make a trip. Not only that, once you’re at the bank you often need to wait in a long line before you’re even able to speak to the clerk. I don’t know about you but waiting in lines at the bank can be grueling.

With online banking you can easily access all your accounts online. No lines no hassle.

Lower Fees

Compared to online banking, traditional banks have much higher operating expenses. Those extra expenses mean more fees pushed onto the consumer. In this case that’s you.

With online banking you can avoid many of those fees since there’s much less overhead.

Quick and Easy Deposits

The majority of traditional banks will let you deposit checks through an ATM. With online banks you can easily deposit checks through their mobile application. Simply snap a picture, sign the back, and voila your money is in your account!

In addition, the majority of online banks offer access to a huge network of ATMs so if you’re ever in need of some cash you’re still in luck!

Higher Yields

This goes back to the fact that online banks have much fewer expenses than traditional ones. Because of this online banks can offer higher rates on savings accounts.

When looking for a new bank make sure you always calculate your potential earnings on CDs and savings accounts. Many individuals make the mistake of jumping ship before doing the math. Is it really worth switching your accounts for an extra $50 a year? When making the switch always comparison shop to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Simple Money Management

One of the best perks of online banking is the ability to easily access and manage your money. Paying bills and other related tasks have never been more simple.

Most online banks offer the ability to check accounts, pay bills, transfer funds, and send money all from a single dashboard.

Pro tip: Look for an online bank that gives you automated savings options. For example, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking to savings account each month. Some platforms allow you to automatically round up your debit card purchases and deposit that amount to your savings. This way you’ll always be putting money away. Remember, every bit counts.

Final Thoughts

It’s no secret that we’re moving towards a completely digital economy. One solution at the forefront of this is online banking. If you’re still relying on a traditional bank then you should definitely look to make the switch today. You won’t regret it.

 

6 Reasons an Online Bank Account is Better Than Traditional Banking

After a hectic day, the last thing you want to do is stand in line trying to get your banking done.

Yet, with the rise of online banking, waiting in line doesn’t have to be an issue anymore. Now you can do your banking without even leaving home. Online banking is not only more convenient but gives you the ability to save money, time, and even the planet.

Keep reading to learn more about why online banking is better than traditional banking.

Online Banks Have Lower Fees

Brick and mortar banks have enormous operational expenses that online banks simply don’t have. For example, they need specialized buildings to secure your money, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and a large staff. They’re in the business to make money, not just store yours. That means fees go up when the bank’s expenses go up. With online banking, fees are kept to a minimum because the bank’s expenses are kept in check.

It’s Easier to Access Your Online Bank

Traditional banking hours aren’t always convenient. For some of us, getting to the bank before closing means leaving work early. It can also mean fighting traffic in the middle of the day, taking time off work, and waiting in long lines. If you do your banking online, there is no traffic and no banking hours. Yes, you may end up on hold waiting to talk to a customer service representative, but at least you can get stuff done while you wait.

Easy Deposits via an App

Most banks will let you make your deposits through one of their many ATMs. But what if you’re not near one of these cash machines? With online banking, making a deposit is as easy as snapping a picture and uploading it to an app. No added stops and no worries about leaving your deposit in an ATM all night (and hoping it’s picked up in the morning). But, if you really want to go to an ATM, most online bank accounts now offer access to a broad ATM network. Chime, for example, allows its members to use more than 30,000 ATM locations nationwide – for free.

Saving Money Can be Automatic

With online banking, saving has never been more simple. For example, you can set up automatic transfers to move money from a checking account into your savings. You can even start small by having Chime round up each transaction made with your Chime debit card. The rounded up amount will be automatically deposited into your savings account. If you want to take your savings efforts further, you can automatically move 10 percent of your paycheck into your savings account each time you get paid. This way your savings is funded with very little effort.

Experience Exceptional Customer Service

Because there are no buildings to staff and maintain, digital banks can often dedicate more resources to their customer service department. When you have questions or concerns, you just have to call. With customers all over the US (or perhaps even the world), the customer service departments at online banks are usually available outside regular business hours. Plus, if you don’t want to pick up the phone, most online banks offer chat features online or via an app.

Do Your Banking Online Because it’s Right for You

Online banking is a great tool. But remember, before you make the switch to an online bank, look at your own banking habits and determine if it is the right move.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself when determining if online banking is the best fit you:

  • Do you like going into a branch and talking with your banker or the tellers? If so, you may want to stick with a brick-and-mortar bank.
  • Is it a pain in the neck to get to the bank? If so, an online bank may be your best bet.
  • Do you have complex interactions that are easier done in person? If yes, you may be better off with your current physical bank branch.

As you can see, it’s up to you to decide what type of banking is best. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for convenience and lower costs, you may want to keep your bank in your pocket.

 

This is Why an Online Bank Account is Better Than Traditional Banking

After a hectic day, the last thing you want to do is stand in line trying to get your banking done.

Yet, with the rise of online banking, waiting in line doesn’t have to be an issue anymore. Now you can do your banking without even leaving home. Online banking is not only more convenient, but gives you the ability to save money, time, and even the planet.

Keep reading to learn more about why online banking is better than traditional banking.

Online Banks Have Lower Fees

Brick and mortar banks have enormous operational expenses that online banks simply don’t have. For example, they need specialized buildings to secure your money, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and a large staff. They’re in the business to make money, not just store yours. That means fees go up when the bank’s expenses go up. With online banking, fees are kept to a minimum because the bank’s expenses are kept in check.

It’s Easier to Access Your Online Bank

Traditional banking hours aren’t always convenient. For some of us, getting to the bank before closing means leaving work early. It can also mean fighting traffic in the middle of the day, taking time off work, and waiting in long lines. If you do your banking online, there is no traffic and no banking hours. Yes, you may end up on hold waiting to talk to a customer service representative, but at least you can get stuff done while you wait.

Easy Deposits via an App

Most banks will let you make your deposits through one of their many ATMs. But what if you’re not near one of these cash machines? With online banking, making a deposit is as easy as snapping a picture and uploading it to an app. No added stops and no worries about leaving your deposit in an ATM all night (and hoping it’s picked up in the morning). But, if you really want to go to an ATM, most online bank accounts now offer access to a broad ATM network. Chime, for example, allows its members to use more than 30,000 ATM locations nationwide – for free.

Saving Money Can be Automatic

With online banking, saving has never been more simple. For example, you can set up automatic transfers to move money from a checking account into your savings. You can even start small by having Chime round up each transaction made with your Chime debit card. The rounded up amount will be automatically deposited into your savings account. If you want to take your savings efforts further, you can automatically move 10 percent of your paycheck into your savings account each time you get your paycheck. This way your savings is funded with very little effort.

Experience Exceptional Customer Service

Because there are no buildings to staff and maintain, digital banks can often dedicate more resources to their customer service department. When you have questions or concerns, you just have to call. With customers all over the US (or perhaps even the world), the customer service departments at online banks are usually available outside regular business hours. Plus, if you don’t want to pick up the phone, most online banks offer chat features online or via an app.

Do Your Banking Online Because it’s Right for You

Online banking is a great tool. But remember, before you make the switch to an online bank, look at your own banking habits and determine if it is the right move.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself when determining if online banking is the best fit you:

  • Do you like going into a branch and talking with your banker or the tellers? If so, you may want to stick with a brick-and-mortar bank.
  • Is it a pain in the neck to get to the bank? If so, an online bank may be your best bet.
  • Do you have complex interactions that are easier done in person? If yes, you may be better off with your current physical bank branch.

As you can see, it’s up to you to decide what type of banking is best. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for convenience and lower costs, you may want to keep your bank in your pocket.

 

7 Modern Features You Should Look for in a New Bank Account

Not too long ago you had to go into a brick-and-mortar bank to open a new account. Times sure have changed.

These days the competition for your money is fierce due to the rise of online bank accounts and other financial institutions vying for your dollars. This is good news for you. In fact, you’ve got plenty of choices and, if you’ve been dissatisfied with the service or costs you are currently incurring from your bank, maybe it’s time to switch banks.

Now the big question becomes: what should you look for in a new bank account? The answer: a bank account that will help you save both time and money. To zero in on the types of services available to you, check out our list of 7 top money-saving features offered by many online bank accounts.

1. No Fees

While there are some banks that still charge monthly fees to account holders, many online bank accounts do not.

If you are currently paying monthly fees on your bank account, you have nothing to lose by asking if your bank would consider waiving the monthly fees to keep your business. If the answer is “no,” it may be time to shop around. For example, online bank accounts like Chime will never charge you monthly fees for your account.

2. No Overdraft Fees

While you’re trying to get rid of your monthly fees, you will also likely want to say goodbye to overdraft fees – forever. Overdraft fees can add up and lead to big bucks for big banks. Some charge as much as $38 per overdraft.

At Chime, we don’t believe in unnecessary fees. If you attempt to make a transaction that is greater than your Spending Account balance, we will decline the transaction and immediately send you a push notification to let you know why it was declined.

3. No Minimum Balance

Although some banks charge a fee if your balance falls below a certain amount, many no longer do this. Oftentimes, however, you have to ask to open an account that doesn’t require a minimum balance in order to eliminate fees. This can be a pain and if you forget to ask and your account dips below a certain amount, well, guess what: you’ll see a fee on your monthly bank statement.

This is why you may want to start off on the right foot and open an online bank account that touts no minimum balance requirement.

4. Turn Change into Savings

Did you know that there are bank accounts out there that will help you save money rather than charging you fees left and right? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your spare change into savings without keeping an unsightly jar on your dresser? Well, in comes Chime with its Automatic Savings program.

Chime’s Automatic Savings Program offers you the ability to round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the “coins” into a savings account. Even if you think this is a small change, it will add up over time.

5. Online Bill Pay

If you’re like most people, you’re busy and looking for ways to cram more hours into your day. This is where online bill pay service comes in handy.

With online bill pay, you can pay all your monthly bills from your laptop. You might even be able to do it during a commercial break from your favorite TV show.

6. Mobile App

A mobile banking app is a handy new tool that many banks offer. With most apps, such as the Chime app, you can check your account balances, transfer money around, and possibly even pay bills from your mobile phone. This is very helpful if you’re always on the go.

7. Sub Accounts

What if you want to save money for a vacation, new car, or another expensive item? It sure would be nice if you could keep track of that money separately so you don’t spend it on something else. Right?

A modern feature you can find in many new bank accounts is the ability to create sub-accounts. This allows you to keep track of your money and set it aside toward a goal. Additionally, these accounts can be used for whatever purpose you dream up.

Are you ready to switch banks and start saving more money? We thought so.

 

5 Things You Can Do in the Chime App to Start Saving More Money Today

For many people, saving money is a struggle. Yet, if you want to get out of debt, build an emergency fund or even save up for a house, you have to find a way to grow your savings.

Likewise, committing to a savings plan can be daunting and there are many ways to earn and save more money. Luckily, there’s a mobile banking app to help you create more wealth, right here and right now. Designed to give you tools to manage your money and automate your savings, the Chime app gives you a head start when it comes to reaching financial independence. Here are 5 ways you can save more money using the Chime app:

Get your paycheck early. 

This tried and true savings method means you save a portion of your paycheck each month before paying your bills or spending the money elsewhere. This way, you won’t squander money away on needless purchases and you’ll instead get one step closer to your financial goals. To make it simple to pay yourself first, the Chime app offers a feature called “Save When You Get Paid.” Once you sign up for an account, you can automatically direct 10% of every paycheck into your Chime Savings Account right when you get paid. To keep track of your progress, all you have to do is use the app to check in on your savings account. As an added perk, you can get paid up to two days earlier* with Chime than if you were to set up for automatic deposit through a traditional bank. It’s a great way to get a jump-start on your money goals.

Grow your savings automatically.

Automating your savings is a sure-fire way to start saving money without giving it a second thought. By enrolling in Chime’s Automatic Savings program, you will be one step closer to achieving your money goals. In fact, you can use the app to sign up for a Chime account and debit card today and you’ll save money every time you use your card to make a purchase. That’s right! Chime will move money into your Savings Account effortless and automatically every time you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card. How much? It depends on how often you use your card. In a nutshell, Chime rounds up each transaction amount to the nearest dollar and transfers that round-up amount from your Spending account into your Savings account. If you make a lot of purchases, your round-ups could amount to hundreds of dollars each year.

Avoid ATM fees.

As you probably know, you typically have to use ATMs within your bank’s network in order to avoid those annoying fees. If you use a bank outside the network, you guessed it: You’ll see a charge on your statement. Indeed, these fees add up fast. But, if you have the Chime app, you can locate and use 24,000 fee-free ATMs. This gives you access to a larger fee-free ATM network than offered through big banks like Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank, or Wells Fargo. Better yet, you can use the Chime app to locate more than 30,000 cash-back locations, including those at big box retailers like Walmart, Target and supermarket chains.

Keep track of your finances on the go.

By using the Chime app, you’ll get a push notification for every transaction and a balance update every morning. This way you will always know what your bank account looks like. Being constantly in the know also gives you an opportunity to curtail spending or even transfer money from your Spending to your Savings account to help you meet your goals faster. And one more thing: You’ll get a notification every time you receive a deposit – keeping you abreast of your money sitch at all times.

Send money and get paid instantly.

By using Chime app’s “Pay Friends” feature, you no longer need to worry about being stuck footing the bill when you dine out with friends. Got shared household expenses? By using the “Pay Friends” option, you can also split up and pay for these bills without feeling like a collection agency.

In fact, when you use “Pay Friends,” you can easily pay and accept money from other Chime members who also have this Chime feature. To start today, simply log into the Chime app, click on “Move Money” and look for the Pay Friends option. You can even create a Chime nickname and search for friends who also use the app. Want to get your friends on board? Go ahead and use the app to invite them to make the switch to banking with Chime. You’ll then all be on your way to paying the amount you actually owe, accepting payments right away, and earmarking more money toward your savings goals.

Are you ready to check out the Chime app and start saving more money today?


*Faster access to funds is based on a comparison of traditional banking policies and deposit of paper checks from employers and government agencies versus deposits made electronically.  Direct Deposit and earlier availability of funds are subject to payer’s support of the feature and timing of payer’s funding.

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

 

Money and Technology: Creating or Solving for Rising Stress Levels in Millennials

Money can make life a whole lot easier, but it can also be one of the biggest stressors for Americans. Did you know that one in four people suffer from PTSD-like symptoms brought on by financial stress? Yup, money is a leading cause of health problems, relationship issues, and divorce.

Just like older generations, millennials are also feeling stressed out by money matters. In fact, at least 75 percent of Millennials stated that money, above all, was their biggest cause of stress, according to an American Psychological Association study. To compound the problem, millennials have another major stressor: technology. A whopping 48 percent of millennials are concerned that social media takes a toll on their physical and mental health, while 45 percent say technology makes them feel disconnected from family and loved ones.

What can you do? For starters, it’s important to understand how technology exacerbates money stress. After that, you can take measures to reduce this stress.

Look for ways technology heightens money stress

In order to alleviate money anxiety, it’s key to recognize the causes. Here are some reasons why you may be experiencing financial stress:

  • Envy and overspending. Before everyone kept up with the Kardashians, Americans had a difficult time keeping up with the Joneses — a colloquial term referring to the idea of keeping up appearances to give the illusion of being wealthy. As an example, consider something known as Facebook envy. It’s hard to avoid logging in to the social networking site without making comparisons to your friends’ seemingly idyllic lives, the vacations they’re taking, or that new car or house they bought. This can instill a “grass is greener” syndrome, causing you to spend more money and go over budget to match someone else’s lifestyle. Instead of getting stressed or going broke, understand that not everyone on Facebook is as happy as they appear to be.
  • Online impulse shopping. Before the Internet happened, it was easy to drive to the mall and max out your credit card. But since the dawn of online shopping, the ease of browsing on your computer or phone means it’s also easier to spend money. The more attractive the online store, the more you’re tempted to buy something on impulse and blow through your budget. Up to 87 percent of impulse buys, in fact, are made from browsing website categories. Spur-of-the-moment purchases aren’t the only problem. A fast-growing number of millennial shoppers plan ahead to buy things by researching products online. All these factors can lead to a psychological disconnect with the value of real money, precipitating debt and the stress that goes with it.
  • Paying too much. Online shopping still has its benefits, like the ability to find more options, scour sites for discounts and sign up for free shipping. On the flipside, consumers are willing to shell out more money just to get stuff for free. Last year, Amazon raised its free shipping minimum from $35 to $49. Here’s another way you might pay more than you bargained for: Those rideshare services may not be as inexpensive as they seem. While using a rideshare provider may save you time and gas money, those rides add up. On average, Uber and Lyft passengers pay between $12 and $13 per ride, and more than $14 in larger cities like New York or San Francisco.

Take a different perspective to reduce money and tech stress

If money issues and tech overload are stressing you out, the simplest way to tackle the problem is to better understand how technology can help you handle your finances. This, in turn, can help reduce your stress about money. Try some of these ideas to stay tech savvy and money smart:

  • Download an all-around app to start organizing and managing your finances. Some popular options include Mint and You Need a Budget. Both apps allow you to sync up your bank accounts, credit cards, and other expenses into one comprehensive place. Once you have all your financials together, these apps will then help you build a budget and tailor it according to your needs and preferences.
  • Automate your banking with online banking. Bank accounts like Chime, for example, help you save automatically by rounding up each purchase you make and then transferring the rounded up amount into your savings account. Chime also offers a 10 percent bonus on your weekly round-up amounts.
  • The Acorns app takes savings automation to another level altogether. When you link a credit or debit card to the app, it rounds up the purchases you make to the nearest dollar and then allocates the change into an investment portfolio.
  • Cut the cord. Sometimes the best way to manage your money is to spend less of it and technology can help you do this. For example, you can try canceling your cable subscription and instead opt for streaming TV and movies via HuluAmazon Prime or a Roku box. Will they save you money? Last year, the average monthly cable bill was over $103. Yet, by opting for one of the services above, this will slash your monthly costs down to nearly a tenth of that cost — Hulu and Amazon Prime monthly subscriptions are $7.99 and $10.99 per month, respectively. Another possibility? Use Netflix or Crackle. Although its selection isn’t as comprehensive as Netflix, Crackle is one of the few free streaming TV/movie services available.
  • Reduce your cell phone bill. You probably can’t live without your phone but you can manage to save money on your cell phone bill by using apps like TextFree or Tango. Both of these enable free texting and video calling. This, in turn, reduces the amount of data used on your cell phone plan. And, you guessed it, this means a lower phone bill for you.
 

The Best Money Tools for Navigating Group Travel

Traveling with your inner circle of friends can be an epic experience. However, it can also be extremely stressful when it comes to handling schedules, responsibilities and financial constraints. Here are four group travel tips that can help you save time, money and let’s face it, your friendships:

Keep the lines of communication open but organized.

Creating a group chat using messaging apps like Whatsapp can be a good place to stay in touch while making plans and during the trip itself. But, I have found that it can easily become overwhelming to keep track of thoughts and ideas, especially in a large group. Here’s a better option: Use Google Docs to sketch out your itinerary, assign responsibilities and even include important reminders for everyone.

Having trouble deciding on a locale, things to do or places to see? Then, put it to a vote with Doodle. You could also consider using Travefy which combines all of the above features into a single app. This platform also allows you to track your group expenses which can come in very handy during and after your trip.

Figure out money matters ahead of time.

Speaking of finances, we all know how awkward it can be splitting the bill with a group of friends on a regular Friday night. You can only imagine how complicated it can be to split up vacation expenses. Yet, handling group vacation finances doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you plan correctly. Let’s break it down:

Understand that not everyone is working with the same budget. Therefore, the entire group needs to be in agreement when it comes to deciding on big ticket items and even smaller expenses like tipping. Here are some other line items to consider:

  • Transportation – more on this soon.
  • Lodging – will you be staying at an AirBnb, hostel or an all-inclusive resort?
  • Meals – don’t forget to include snacks.
  • Excursions – you might want to scale back on more pricey group tours or split into mini-groups during the trip.
  • Souvenirs – most people will want a keepsake to remember the experience.
  • Exchange rate fees for international travel – these can add up so it’s important to explore your options and plan ahead. Look for a bank account with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Incidentals – it’s always a good idea to budget a little extra for emergencies.

Consider the kitty system. A few years ago, I was in charge of buying groceries for a weekend getaway for a group of five friends. However, after the trip ended, it became a hassle to collect money from each them. The kitty system would have come in handy in this scenario. By having a kitty, each person in the group contributes an equal amount of money ahead of time to a fund. Then, after a purchase is made, any leftover money gets divvied up equally among the group.

Use an app to split the bill. An even easier way to split costs is to use Chime. Chime helps you do the math and sends a text message to your friends with a link to pay you back. If your friends are Chime members, they can use Pay Friends to instantly move funds. If your travel mates are not yet Chime members, they can always use Venmo to transfer money. Either way, these apps can help you simplify your finances so you don’t have to worry about dealing with cash or splitting checks.

Be fair in other ways. Apart from sharing costs, a Lifehacker article takes things a step further by asking the following questions: “If you’re splitting the AirBnb down the middle, who will get the bigger room? If one person has to do all the driving during your road trip, should the other one pay for a little more gas?” Make sure you take all factors into consideration so everyone feels the trip details are fair.

Navigating the skies…or the roadways.

Traveling to your final destination can be the most costly part of your trip and the hardest to plan. So, this gets its own section.

Most large airline carriers like American Airlines or Delta offer discounts and special perks if you have a group of at least 10 people. However, there are still other ways to get the best deals on your flights. For example, the travel app Hopper is an airfare price tracker app that uses data on pricing trends to estimate when fares will rise and fall.

Another option: Consider working with a travel agent (yes, these still exist) to help you score the best group deals on flights. A travel professional may also be able to find a low-priced package deal that combines flights, hotels and excursions. Of course, you’ll want to do some quick math to ensure that you’re actually saving money by choosing the all-in-one option.

If you plan on road-tripping to your getaway, you’ll have to do some advance planning as well – unless you want to spend hours in traffic and perhaps spend unnecessarily on gas. This is where Waze comes in. This navigation app offers real-time traffic and alerts based on information provided by a community of users. According to U.S. News & World Report, the app also helps you “pinpoint the most affordable gas station on your route, keeping you and your wallet content on the road.”

Remember your “why” and have fun.

Sometimes I get so caught up planning and sticking to a schedule that I forget to live in the moment and enjoy the company of good friends. I also often neglect to take photos and share them. If you’re like me, consider asking someone else in the group to capture memories and save them in an easy to access spot like Dropbox or Flickr.

As you can see, if you use these tips for navigating group travel, your next trip with friends can be, well, a true vacation. Here’s to a hassle-free next adventure!

 

11 Ways to Automate Your Life and Save Money

If you want to grow your savings quickly and effectively, maybe you should try automating your financial tasks. This smart move will help you pay bills on time, invest without lifting a finger, and, most importantly, save money.

Below are 11 simple ways to start automating today.

Install a Smart Thermostat

This is my first winter in Detroit, Michigan, and I have the electric bills to prove it. To cut down on my energy costs, I started researching smart thermostats.

Smart Thermostats help you reduce your energy consumption, thus lowering your electric bills. For example, if you want to save money while you’re at work during the summer, a smart thermostat will automatically adjust the AC when you leave the house. You can also control it from your smartphone  – letting you readily control the temperature in your home.

Smart Thermostats can be pricey but with a little research, you can find rebates to offset the costs. For example, the very first smart thermostat, Nest, which is now owned by Google, costs $249. My price, however, was lower as I was offered a $75 rebate from my energy company. The caveat: I had to purchase and install the Nest by the end of the year. To give you another example of how you can save, the Nest website reports that most of their customers save $131-$145 per year. This means the Nest actually pays for itself in just over a year if you’re eligible for rebates. Besides the Nest, other smart thermostat companies, including Ecobee and Honeywell, may offer similar rebates.

Streamline Your Groceries

I love throwing Oreos in my grocery cart just as much as the next person. Lately, however, I’ve been automating my grocery lists and this has saved me big bucks – and cut down on the amount of Oreos I buy. For example, I started using a service called The Dinner Daily which creates a dinner menu for me based on my grocery sales that week.

To get started, I select my preferred grocery store and The Dinner Daily provides me with a meal plan and grocery list. Then, all I have to do is add in a few breakfast and lunch items, and my list is complete. If you want to take it a step further, most grocery stores now offer delivery to your car. To take advantage of this, you order your groceries ahead of time and a store employee will bring them to your car for a small fee.

If you don’t want to drive to the grocery store, no worries. You can also find a company that delivers groceries straight to your door. Some companies that provide this service include Peapod and Amazon Fresh. You can also check out Instacart and Shipt.

Automate Your Savings

If you find saving money challenging, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a 2016 study by Go Banking Rates, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Luckily for you, there are ways for you to buck this statistic by improving your own savings automatically. For example, if you join Chime, you can bank without fees. Plus, Chime rounds ups your spare change and automatically deposits this amount into your savings account. This can help you save around $400 per year.

Subscribe to a Household Goods Delivery Service

Groceries aren’t the only necessary items that you can get delivered to your front door. You can also subscribe to delivery services for household items, like toilet paper or cleaning supplies. By ordering these items in advance, you won’t end up running out at the last minute to buy these necessities at a costly drugstore or convenient mart. Plus, this sure saves you time. And as you know, time is money.

Some great discount home delivery options include Amazon’s subscribe and save and Target (free shipping and 5% off with a Target Red Card). If you want to get even more specific, there are many specialty subscription companies too. For example, if you like fresh flowers, you can get them delivered automatically to your door through The Booqs Co. And, let’s not forget about Fido. You can even set up auto shipments for your pet food via Chewy.

Create Travel Alerts

Planning a trip or vacation can take a lot of time. But, there are ways to score the best deals on travel without wasting time constantly refreshing price comparison websites. For example, you can create flight alerts for your preferred route. You can also sign up for automated texts or emails to learn about price reductions at your dream hotel.

Several travel sites offer fare alert features, including AirfareWatchdog, Hopper and Skyscanner. You can even use a website like TripAdvisor to track vacation deals. To do this, become a member, go to your profile and click subscriptions. For there, you can select subscriptions for TripWatch, Air Watch, and even RentalWatch. By entering your preferred destination, you’ll be alerted when prices drop. To try it out, I am now watching airline prices to Montego Bay, Jamaica because hey, a girl can dream.

Make Contributions to Your 401(K)

If you have a work-sponsored 401(K), now is the time to set up automatic contributions. According to a published report, a third of Americans don’t have anything saved for retirement at all. This might be due to the fact that it can be hard to allocate extra money to save when you’ve got mounting bills or debts to pay off. But, if you set up automatic withdrawals, you’ll get used to living on a smaller paycheck. Plus, you’ll be on your way to building long-term wealth.

Automate Investing

Your retirement plan isn’t the only way you can start automatically investing while you’re young. Thanks to some new investing apps, you can get started without a lot of money. For example, Acorns offers a feature to help you invest your spare change. All you need to do is connect the cards you use every day to their app, and Acorns will automatically round up and invest your spare change for you.

Another company, Betterment, helps you take control of your investing in smart automation. You start by setting up automatic deposits to your accounts. Then, Betterment will take that money and automatically invest and rebalance it for you. According to Betterment, you could earn 2.9% more than you would investing on your own.

Sign Up for Unroll.me

If you’re tempted by all those promotional emails in your inbox, you might be a good candidate for Unroll.me. This is a free service that rolls your subscription emails into one daily email. This way you won’t be tempted to spend money in the middle of the day when your favorite store has a sale. You can also easily unsubscribe from stores that are too expensive or that you no longer patronize. For example, I have over 300 email addresses rolled up automatically with this service. This prevents me from whipping out my credit card every time Old Navy has a sale.

Set Up Recurring Invoices

If you’re a business owner with regular clients, you can set up recurring invoices using accounting software from Freshbooks or Intuit’s Quickbooks. This can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lost income. For example, I recently told my piano teacher that I owed her $400. She never sent me an invoice, but I knew it was due. For someone like her, recurring invoices would ensure that her students received invoices. This means she’d be more likely to get paid on time and would be able to easily keep tabs on missing payments.

Install a Browser Extension

A browser extension – like the free shopping tool Honey – works by automatically searching the web for better prices. It then adds any relevant coupon codes to your shopping cart when you go to purchase that item. So, if you’re shopping for clothes and you use Honey at checkout, you might end up with a promo code that you didn’t know existed. This helps you save automatically without searching the web for promo codes that might not work.

Pay Your Bills Automatically

Excessive late fees can affect your bottom line. Yet, when life gets busy, it can be hard to stay organized with your bills and this can mean missed payments. To avoid this scenario, try putting your bills on autopay.

I automatically pay my bills, including my mortgage, wireless and cell phone bills. Then, at the end of each month, I quickly check my bank account to make sure that all my bills were paid on time.

The great thing about paying bills automatically is that even if there is a glitch with auto-pay, which recently happened with my Internet bill, the service provider will usually refund you for late fees incurred due to a technical glitch.

 

How to Find the Best Apps to Help Manage Your Money

Did you know that by the end of 2017 there will be an estimated 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world?

With the mobile revolution in full-swing, it’s easy to see why apps have become increasingly popular. In the palm of our hands, we can have a device that texts friends and family, update our social media channels, read our favorite book, schedule a meeting, and manage our finances.

While that’s a great problem to have, some of us just don’t have the time to review the hundreds of money management apps that are available. So, to make the process run more smoothly, here are the five questions that you should ask when looking for a money management app.

What are my goals?

There is no one-size-fits-all money management app. While most of the apps do offer similar features, such as online banking and budgeting, they vary from app to app. For example, the traditional YNAB app is ideal for creating and sticking to a budget, while Personal Capital focuses primarily on investments.

Before settling on an app, list the goals that you want to accomplish with the app. If you’re looking for a household budgeting app so that you can afford groceries, then something like YNAB or Mint would be more favorable than an app that helps you save for a vacation or retirement. In the case of saving for a vacation, retirement, or a large purchase, apps like Simple or Unsplurge would be a better decision.

What features are available?

While each app is different, they should include the following functions:

  • Banking where you can pay bills electronically, deposit checks, set-up automatic payments, transfer funds, and reconcile account balances.
  • Budgeting where you can set spending limits and manage your cash flow.
  • Planning that allows you to monitor and pay down debt, estimate major life expenses, and forecast your retirement/saving needs.
  • Investing so that you can receive stock quotes and track your portfolios.
  • Reports so that you can review your finances.
  • Taxes where you can set-up your own tax categories so that you can prepare your return to generate a report on tax deductions and estimated taxes that you’ll owe.
  • Provides your credit score so that you can improve it to take a loan or line of credit if needed. This is especially important if you’re planning on purchasing a home or starting your own business.

If your app contains these features, it makes your life easier since all of your financial information is one dashboard instead of spread-out across multiple apps.

Is the app compatible with my mobile device?

Most money management apps, like Mint, Pocket Guard, YNAB, and Level Money are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. However, that doesn’t mean that all of these apps are compatible with your mobile device. For instance, Unsplurge is only available for the iPhone and iPad.

How much does it cost?

The good news is that a majority of money management apps are free to download and use. But, be careful. Some of them will charge you fees. YNAB costs $5 a month. And, some apps, such as Spendee, may be free but offers a “pro” version for $1.99/month if you want access to all of the features.

How secure is my information?

With all of the security breaches happening, your security should be a top concern. Especially when providing and sharing financial information anywhere — whether it be with an online business or an app.

Before downloading an app, make sure that it’s reputable and trustworthy by reading online reviews and doing research on the security measures that they offer. Wally is a promising personal finance app since it doesn’t’ link to your bank account.

Compare your options.

After answering the questions listed above, start comparing the ebank apps that fit your needs the best, work on your device, and will keep your information secure.

Bear in mind though that just because an app is accessible either online or among your peers doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. Take Mint, for example. It’s one of the most popular, and useful, apps to manage your money.

However, if you’re looking for a solution to help you run both your household and small business finances, it’s not the best option. In that case, you would want to shop around for an app that can manage your personal and professional finances.

How to Find the Best Apps to Help Manage Your Money was originally published on Due by Deanna Rampton.

 

The Future of Banking is Apps, Apps, and More Apps

All the way back in 1994 Bill Gates famously said, “Banking is essential, banks are not.” Today, that statement is even more spot-on — thanks to mobile phones becoming an essential part of our lives, especially among Millennials.

According to the Salesforce Research report, a whopping “75 percent of Millennials are at least somewhat reliant on a mobile banking app to interact with their bank for tasks such as depositing or sending checks, checking their balances, and paying bills.”

As Andrew Meola says for Business Insider, “Perhaps no technology will disrupt our financial transactions in the future more than mobile tech. The introduction of SMS into the public gave banks an avenue for mobile banking, but the explosion of smartphones in the last decade has truly caused mobile banking to go mainstream.”

“Today, mobile banking apps are not an extra benefit in consumers’ minds,” Meola continues. “They are a necessary part of the bank-customer relationship, and their absence could convince customers to switch to another financial institution.” In other words, the banking app is no longer something for which to be grateful to the banking institutions, but rather — a banking app for each bank or credit card is to be expected.

With that in mind, here’s a closer look at why the future of banking is going to be apps.

Convenience

The days of visiting your local branch, standing in line, and waiting several days for the funds to be placed into your account are over. Instead, banking apps allow you to deposit checks, automate payments, and transfer funds seamlessly through your mobile device without ever having to step foot into a bank. In fact, only 38 percent of Millennials actually walk into a bank these days.

“I haven’t had a traditional bank in almost four years, and I don’t see myself having one for a long time, (if ever again),” said Meg McClafferty, a finance professional from Boston. “Everything I need in terms of banking is right at my fingertips.”

“The app has all my accounts with Capital One in one place, that I can swipe seamless between,” McClaferty said. “Transfers and payments are a breeze. They are always updating the app to be quicker and easier to use.”

Millennials Are Skeptics

It’s been found that 71 percent of Millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks have to tell them. Also, all four of the leading banks, which includes JPMorgan & Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, are among the top ten least loved brands by Millennials.

The Future of Banking is Apps, Apps, and More Apps

Due’s Max Palmer asks, “Why are they so disillusioned with traditional banking institutions?” Palmer believes that “It probably has to do with the financial crisis in 2007 which made it harder to find a job and pay down debt. And, as previously mentioned, this is an extremely educated group. It was easy for them to realize that some of the causes of the financial crisis were due to the greed and fraud the banking industry.”

“Millennials are so disassociated with the traditional banking system that most of them believe that innovation will come from outside of the industry,” adds Palmer. In fact, a majority of Millennials are interested in new financial services from non-traditional banking institutions like Google, Apple, Amazon, PayPal, or Square.

More Than Just Online Banking

Millennials in particular demand digital features that go beyond online banking. They want apps from banks like Chime that also keep track of their spending, help them set a budget, receive transaction alerts, and provide educational content like how they can build or repair their credit.

The Future of Banking is Apps, Apps, and More Apps

Ultimately, they want to have complete control over their finances. They want to be able to transfer funds from one digital wallet to another, view real-time information, digest financial content, and access their accounts whenever and wherever they want. It’s a leading reason why many millennials are closing bank accounts at big banks and moving on to challenger banks.

Reducing Banking Costs and Increasing Checkout Speed

One of the main reasons that mobile banking apps are going to grow is because of those chip-enabled EMV cards. The transition to EMV hasn’t exactly been as smooth and both merchants and consumers have been frustrated by the length of time it takes to complete a transaction. Thanks to mobile wallets, waiting in line to pay for your purchases has been sped up because customers don’t have to insert their cards into the terminal.

Another advantage of digital banking, especially when combined with real-time payments and notifications, is that it reduces overdraft fees since users always know how much money is their accounts and can transfer funds automatically if money is getting low. Digital banking (ebank) also removes the expensive costs of check-cashing services.

There are also peer-to-peer payment apps that eliminate the need for consumers to visit an ATM to take out cash, which not only removes an extra step from the payment process but also cuts the transaction and withdraw fees.

The Future of Banking is Apps, Apps, and More Apps was originally published on Due by Angela Ruth.