Remember when opening a savings account required visiting a bank? Or when the primary way to track spending was by recording purchases and deposits in your checkbook ledger?
The rise of the internet and the proliferation of fintech, including money management apps and robo-advisers, have profoundly changed the way we handle money. Everything from budgeting to investing and making deposits can be done with the touch of a button. Here are some of the top ways managing money has changed since 2010.
Budgeting & tracking spending have never been easier
Budgeting apps were just making their debut a decade ago and have since grown increasingly sophisticated, helping users do a better job of managing daily spending and long- term financial goals, said Misty Lynch, a certified financial planner and head of financial planning for John Hancock, a life insurance company.
“These apps help you see your whole financial picture in one place so you don’t need to log into several different websites to get your balances,” said Lynch.
Such apps now allow for everything from receiving alerts regarding upcoming bills, to setting financial goals, and comparing your income against expenses, including tracking details regarding where you’re spending money and why.
Every bank has an app
No matter whom you bank with, it’s likely the financial institution has an app that instantly tracks purchases, transfers money between linked accounts and deposits checks without needing to visit the bank.
“Nearly every banking institution has an app now,” said Ryan Guina, founder of personal finance website The Military Wallet. Such apps make it easier to do everything on the go, he added.
“To me, the best feature is the ability to remotely deposit checks, which prior to this invention, had to be done at a physical bank, an ATM that accepted drop-offs, or through mailing the check to the bank,” said Guina. “Today, you can deposit a check and have the money available within minutes.”
There’s an app for everything
Budgeting, income tracking and individual bank apps are only a small part of the fintech money management world. Now, there are apps for investing, managing debt, crypto-currency, splitting costs and managing money.
Read our roundup of the best apps for sending money.
Complete automation of financial tasks
Along with the proliferation of apps came the rise of artificial intelligence to advance their usefulness beyond budgeting and tracking spending. Now we can practically take a hands-off approach to time-consuming financial chores.
“In 2010, things were getting a bit easier for managing your money with software like Mint and Personal Capital. But now, we've taken things a step further,” said Kyle Kroeger, founder of Financial Wolves, a blog about side hustles. “Managing your money can be completely automated through artificial intelligence and data.”
Trim is one example of artificial intelligence at work, said Kroeger.
“Trim analyzes your spending to find recurring subscriptions and determine where you can save more money,” said Kroeger. “It will automatically cancel subscriptions or find ways to reduce your cable bills, insurance and more. Previously, people would have to manually call Comcast to try to understand better pricing or take advantage of a special offer. Trim will simply automate your money-saving duties.”
Robo-investing makes investing effortless
The proliferation of robo-investment companies has made investing accessible to nearly everyone and turned the process into less of a chore. Robo-advisers manage investments for low fees. As an investor, you answer questions on your goals and how much you can invest. After that, you can put your investments on auto-pilot. They’re an alternative to pricier human-managed funds.
Changing banks has never been easier
The inconvenience of going to a branch to open a bank account has become a thing of the past, says Lynch, of John Hancock, thanks to the emergence of online-only bank accounts, many of which offer more competitive interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks.
“Research the interest rate you earn on your savings account. If it’s extremely low you can open a high-yield savings account with a few clicks and transfer your money without ever having to leave the house,” said Lynch.
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Image: Giorgio Trovato