Sticking to a budget is a challenge for most American consumers. Over half of U.S. adults don’t prepare a detailed household budget or keep close track of their spending, according to NerdWallet’s Consumer Financial Literacy Survey. Nearly a quarter of Americans say they don’t pay all their bills on time and one third carry credit card debt from one month to the next.
Fortunately, mobile technology is giving Americans new ways to stay on top of their spending. Here are four steps to follow to make your tablet a budgeting tool:
1. Choose a Secure Device
First things first. If you’re going to manage your budget from your mobile device, it needs to be secure. As mobile payments become more popular, mobile devices are becoming increasingly inviting targets for identity thieves. The number of American consumers targeted for credit card theft tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to a Javelin Strategy & Research report.
With thieves stepping up their activity, consumers likewise need to take stronger measures to protect themselves. The first step you can take is to choose a device with strong security features to make it harder for thieves to bust your budget. For instance, the iPad Mini 4 comes with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that makes sure unauthorized users can’t access your device to steal your financial information.
2. Use a Budgeting App
Mobile budgeting apps help you plan and track your spending no matter where you are. One of today’s most popular budgeting apps is Mint. This app uses a secure connection to your bank to help you create a budget that is tailored to your spending habits. Mint’s interface gives you an at-a-glance overview of what you’re spending on different expense categories, what’s in your bank account, how much you owe on your credit cards and your credit score. Mint is available from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.
3. Set up Automatic Bill Pay Reminders
Mint also offers a service called Mint Bills that lets you know about upcoming bills. Setting up this type of bill pay reminder system makes sure you don’t get behind on your monthly obligations.
Another popular app that provides automatic bill pay reminders is You Need a Budget. YNAB lets you create budget categories to plan how you’re going to spend the money you have available that month. You can then set up scheduled payment reminders that let you know when bills you have set for autopay are due. YNAB automatically deducts the corresponding amount from your budget so you can see how much you have left.
YNAB works on Android and Apple devices.
4. Schedule Automated Bill Payments
These apps work best in conjunction with automated bill payments. You can set up your bank account to schedule automatic payments at set intervals to designated payees, including credit card companies, utilities, medical providers and even family and friends.
To set up a payment, go into your bank account, enter data about the account you want to set up as a payee and schedule your payment. Your banking provider will then send money to pay your bill automatically, with the option of having an email notification sent to you. By combining automatic bill payments with budgeting apps, you can use your tablet to manage your budget from anywhere.