Elli Davis

Technology is Changing the Way We Plan Our Finances

Will your next financial advisor be a robot? Like virtually everything these days, the way we invest and plan for retirement is evolving due to technology. The tools we have available are more robust than ever before. Computer algorithms are increasingly becoming a staple of holistic financial planning.

Financial planning requires careful balancing of many complex factors. These factors can be overwhelming, meaning that situations often require careful analysis. Algorithms are seen more and more as a way to manage the complexity of financial planning. As well, algorithms have made conflict-free standards of service more attainable, with their unparalleled ability to assess all options in an objective manner.

However, the human element is far from obsolete. Financial planners act as a mediator to protect clients from making decisions that will hurt them in the long term. Experienced financial planners can use financial planning technology to its full potential, with detailed knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses, in combination with knowing when to step in and make changes based on individual client needs.

Thanks to evolving technology, we are also able to control many aspects of financial planning with the aid of apps and online tools, ourselves.

Here are three tools to help you stay on top of your money:

Mint.com Personal Finance Mint is both an online tool and an app that allows you to connect all of your accounts in one place to keep track of and categorize your spending, bills, check your balances and track your budget. Mint allows you to set up reminders for upcoming payments and receive notifications when your account balance is getting low. Mint takes your information and provides advice on broad strategies to improve your finances. It is free, easy to use and allows you to sync your accounts.

Important: Although the company claims their services are as safe as the banks’ own websites, if fraud were to occur, you would be responsible for any losses – always be mindful and careful.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) A more hands-on tool than Mint, YNAB is great for those that want to budget meticulously and intentionally. The app needs you to manually import transactions daily, forcing you to be mindful of your spending and saving habits. The app allows you to check your budget and transactions on the go. It costs $50 to purchase, and there is a free one-month trial available. If you do not need all the bells and whistles, a ‘lite’ version is available for free.

Your Bank’s App – Most major banks and credit card/investment companies have apps or online tools available. They are a good place to start and usually allow you to check balances, make transfers, pay bills, check on your investments and provide a variety of useful programs. Many of the apps have tools that help you track your spending and categorize your spending habits .

What is the final take-away? Increasingly, financial planning is expected to provide more value because the freely (and cheaply) available tools are simply better than ever. Whether you want to try a hands-on approach, or want as much expert guidance as you can get; excellent options are available.