Not sure where to begin to reclaim your power of the purse? It's not as hard as you may think, thanks in part to some digital tools you can access right from your phone.
“A big piece of our job as a money coach is celebrating the small steps that lead to the bigger changes and milestones,” says Chad Wolfe, a money coach and student loan specialist at the My Secure Advantage program.
The financial gurus at MSA have been helping T-Mobile employees through the company’s wellbeing website LiveMagenta, which offers everything from physical and mental health services, as well as MSA’s financial wellness coaching. The experts at MSA know their numbers and we’d let them balance our checkbook any day.
Chad says he works on financial fundamentals, like budgeting, debt and credit with clients, but that making use of today’s digital finance tools is a great way to automate and incorporate financial literacy into your everyday life.
"I love that technology has allowed us to be able to pull up our budgeting app in a grocery store or at the mall to see how that potential purchase fits into your plan," he says. "And we have more information readily available so we can do better or feel more in control of our money rather than having our money controlling us."
He has some tips on how to begin the process of getting your finances in fighting shape, and even what digital tools you can access right from your mobile device on your path to financial zen.
“Money can be a very difficult subject for some people,” says Chad. “That can be especially true when it comes to debt.”
But there are ways you can start the work towards alleviating the strain it causes. Experts like Chad encourage manageable exercises like finding a small debt that doesn’t seem too daunting to tackle and to build up your confidence by eliminating that first within a projected timeline. He says you can also download apps like Qoins, which are designed to help you eradicate specific debts as quick as possible by saving small amounts every day and using those savings to make extra monthly payments. The app asks users to connect checking accounts and to choose their preferred savings method – things like rounding up their credit card purchases and putting aside the change and transferring those savings to your connected debt account for payment.
“I've worked with a lot of people who feel tracking is a big piece of building a budget,” says Chad, “especially if they’re new to it or not that comfortable so it helps to hold those dollars accountable towards their goal or helps them to make different decisions to stay on track.”
Ballin’ on a Budget
Now that you're on the way to being debt free, it's time to scale for the future with a budget to get you there. But not everything feels like it's within our control when it comes to financial planning.
“Given our current economic climate and the fact interest rates have been going up, we’ve noticed it’s prompted some phone calls to our organization,” says Chad. “So be sure when it comes to your budget, name it and claim it to set yourself up for success.”
Even if you begin by carving out a small emergency savings to start, make sure you're looking at the total income, other responsibilities or needs, and trying to pepper in some wants. Then consider setting that up through a payroll deduction to prioritize that savings.
One way to do this easily is digitally. Chad says many people have become familiar with apps like Mint and Simplifi (from Quicken) because they let you to connect your bank accounts and credit cards, putting your transactions on its dashboard and organizing them into budget categories. You can input a savings goal and these apps will show you how much you need to contribute and how often. You can also tell it how much of your budget you want to contribute to a certain category like grocery shopping and it will alert you when you’re getting close to or overshooting that budget Some apps, like Rocket Money, even help you locate wasteful spending by identifying all of your subscriptions, including those you may not even realize you’re still signed up for.
Chad says don’t forget to review your existing bills and accounts and make sure they align with your new budget. If it’s something that detracts you from your goals, it’s worth considering an alternative. And in the spirit of giving customers choices, T-Mobile’s new Go5G Plus Plan packs over $270 in added value for families – with things like Apple TV+ and Netflix included in the plan. There’s also free in-flight Wi-Fi where available and free high-speed data abroad in 215+ destinations (meaning people can stay connected in the air and the minute they’re off the plane). Finding a wireless plan that includes perks most people already pay for out of pocket is another way to save money in the long run when reconsidering how to create and make good on a new budget.
Invest In You
You may be too young to actually imagine the day you retire, but many financial professionals suggest you keep it in mind as early as possible. Some suggest contributing from 10 to 20 percent of your salary each year to it. No surprise that there’s a plethora of apps to help you invest in you by investing in the market! Betterment and Acorns are just a few examples of popular mobile apps out there today that help people invest with ease. Each has its own niche for creating customizable investment plans, often by linking to your spending accounts and automatically taking funds through round ups on your purchases or deposits on a specified weekly or monthly basis so you can set it and forget it.
Try to align programs you're signed up for so they work together. "I get to play a fun part in helping to delegate some of the benefit integration with things like retirement plan options," he says.
As Chad pointed out already, interest rates have been rising, which is costing borrowers more but the positive side of that is interest rates on a lot of the high yield savings accounts are going up too. Says Chad: "There's an opportunity to do a little bit more and have that money work harder for you."