Personal Finance: How Smartphones Level the Playing Field

“Personal finance” is a strange term. Mobile tech and personal finance is even more bizarre. For a huge number of people, it means this week’s shopping budget, or juggling the bills that need to be paid. For many people, the idea of being in the investment class is pretty laughable, and it isn’t just the money needed – it’s the sheer time it takes to understand the world and to make sure you are doing things right. When you are working eight to ten hours a day, or more, and balancing the needs of kids, or even just your social life as you start out, having the time to do things right is nearly impossible.

Not having this time can set you back in a number of ways, and can keep you behind the eight ball. Even worse, it can lead to terrifying risks. Playing the lottery isn’t risky, just kind of silly. But too many people hear about a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and go for it, and lose what little they have. Even people who devote their whole lives to the understanding of finance and the acquisition of capital sometimes mess up, so what chance is there for the rest of us?

Luckily, the playing field is being leveled. The high towers of finance, once shrouded in impenetrable clouds and guarded snarlingly by mean-looking dogs, are opening up, and it is all thanks to the information revolution and the explosion of mobile technology. The power of our mobile tech and the apps that are dominating the economy are helping people take charge of their personal finance in new and exciting ways.

Take advantage of information; don’t be taken

Let’s start with a caveat: this article is not purporting to offer financial advice. I’m not going to give you hot tips or foolproof investment strategies; anyone who claims to do so is a bunko artist. And that is sort of the point: for years – really forever – people who wanted to make extra money outside their salary were at the mercy of people who seemed to know what they were talking about. While most financial advisers were well-meaning, honest, and really had their clients’ best interests in mind, such an informational imbalance inevitably let in hucksters.

The mobile revolution is all about evening up those imbalances. Information is key, and an informed population is the grifter’s worst enemy.

Two ways mobile technology can help

The first way in which mobile technology can help you control your financial future is by helping you take control of your financial present. It’s hard – I know I’m terrible at it. You do calculations, but are always missing something. You try to plan ahead, but the day-to-day keeps cropping up. The problem has always been the difficulty of keeping track and staying focused. Nowadays, though, there is almost no excuse. Smartphones and other mobile tech devices are easy to order, and nearly anyone can get one.

There are any number of apps that help you budget, keep track of your money, and plan for the future. The most famous of these is Mint.com, which shows you how you spend your money (among other things). Showing how money is spent is really important, in the same way that health apps showing you what’s going on in your body can help to modify that behavior. It’s easy to justify nearly any purchase at the time, especially if it is small. But to see that you are spending $100 a month on TV streaming might be enough to convince you to get a library card. Having organized information in front of you is the best way to change attitudes and actions. It works way better than a pep talk.

The other way is investing, which is hard. We all know it is hard, and that’s why there is a professional financial class. But we’re now able to take control, and see where our money is going. Don’t get me wrong: it is dangerous to assume that you know better than experts, and your gut feeling about Amalgamated Dirigibles is probably not worth pursuing. That doesn’t mean experts are always right, though, or that you don’t have a say in things. You do, as this article about mobile apps for managing your investments shows. You can keep track of your investments, see where they are growing and where they are not, and be an actual partner, instead of a supplicant.

Where saving leads to investing

These aren’t two separate fields, made for two different groups, even if they seem to be. Sure, you may not feel like you can invest now, and maybe you can’t. Maybe saving for the future seems really unrealistic. It isn’t, though. Using the kind of personal finance apps that help you save now, and spend wisely, can build a nest egg that can be used to invest smartly and as safely as possible, to give anyone a chance to retire comfortably.

Mobile tech and personal finance go together extremely well, and in a way that shows the power of this new technology. For the first time, anyone has the tools to take control of their finances, and move toward the future. Information is king, and the king is in the hands of the populace.

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