We live in pretty amazing times. Don’t believe me?
Without leaving the couch – or putting on anything more respectable than my Netflix-binge-watching best – I can order food, video chat with someone halfway across the world, and be my own financial planner — thanks to the rise of fintech.
Well… OK, there’s a little bit more to say about that last one.
Dragging finance into the future
You know how technology came in and fairy-godmothered away everything awful about taxis, and totally changed how we listen to music, and made sure our embarrassing selfies only live for 10 seconds, max? Well, the same thing is happening in the world of finance.
Luckily, by “world of finance” I’m talking about things that we all actually care about, like saving for a big vacation, splitting the bill with friends, managing your student loan payments while still having a life, and more.
It’s called fintech, and if you aren’t using it yet – you should be.
Why should you care about financial technology?
When our parents were figuring out their money in their 20s, they almost definitely talked to someone about it in-person, whether it was an independent advisor or Mary at the bank. While there are good reasons for working with a financial advisor, for a long, long time there was no in-between. You either paid up for financial advice, went to your bank or did it yourself.
Enter, financial technology.
In the same way that Uber figured out how to streamline transportation, other techies have been cracking the code to simplify your financial life. Those smart people built companies to help make every aspect of managing your money easier, better, and more accessible to everyone.
They built us that middle step between doing it all yourself and paying for a financial planner. Now, just like in other industries, there are apps for everything when it comes to your money – and that, friends, is a wonderful thing.
How can you use fintech?
When I say there are apps for everything that has to do with your money, I mean it.
There are apps that can help you do everything from budgeting to investing to paying down debt to financial planning. Fintech is big, small and everywhere in between when it comes to the types of things they tackle; you can go from total beginner to absolute pro, without ever needing to step foot inside a bank branch.
To see exactly how, here are just three of the many fintech steps you can take, from beginner to total expert.
If you’re a finance beginner, you could start with…
Apps that make sending money painless and free.
Instead of paying $1 every time you send an email money transfer to pay a friend back for covering happy hour, grab Venmo and make sure your friends do, too. You’ll be able to send them money from your bank account or your Venmo account, free.
If you’re an intermediate money-haver, give this a try…
Apps that take the stress and spreadsheets out of budgeting.
Mint is the granddaddy of fintech, and for good reason. It connects directly to your accounts and credit cards, gives you a full snapshot of your money in one place, and tracks your budget for you. Once you’ve set up your monthly budget categories, it’ll email you if you’re going over your Starbucks budget (…again.)
And for the experts, there’s always…
Apps that handle your investments for you.
If you haven’t heard of robo-advisors like Wealthfront and Betterment, now’s the time to look into them if you think budgeting technology is old hat. These services create balanced, low-cost investment portfolios for you, and take all the stress out of daily investment management. Plus, you can sign up from the comfort of your home, and they all have slick interfaces that feel more like Spotify than an investing website.
The best part is, this list barely even scratches the surface of fintech and what’s possible in this brave new world of money. I don’t know about you, but making money management simpler, easier, and doable-in-sweatpants is my kind of thing.
Because, seriously, given the choice of being great with money from my couch, or getting dressed up to go sit across a desk from Mary at the bank? Sorry Mary, but you know the couch is going to win every time.
Stay tuned for more fintech posts that take you through everything you need to know to get financial tech working for you – first up, we’ll dive into apps that make budgeting useful, easy and fun. Yes, fun.
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