FinTech Apps to stay financially literate and healthy

FinTech apps

This year i’ve worked diligently to get my personal finances in order. From February 2018 to November 2018, i increased my (TransUnion) FICO score by 73 points!

To help get a (daily) handle on things, these are the apps i use/check regularly — sometimes several times a day. They are in no particular order. A few of the app links are my personal referral links, by the way. Some offer cool perks for both me and you if you sign up. They’re all free, though i pay for a premium version where noted.

  • Credit Karma
    • FICO scores from TransUnion and Equifax. Has reports/analysis for Credit Cards; Personal Loans, Student Loans, Auto Loans, Other Loans, Collections, and Real Estate; Tax filing (during Tax Season); and Auto records, but i haven’t used that feature since i don’t drive. I use this in-conjunction with Credit Sesame to see how fast/lax the credit companies are to report things. It’s interesting and frustrating to see the discrepancies in score reporting and timelines.
  • Credit Sesame
    • FICO scores from TransUnion. I pay for their enhanced reporting on a monthly basis specifically for their daily update of my FICO score, but it also has these useful features: a full 3-bureau (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) report once a month, daily credit score monitoring, dark web identity theft monitoring, and some other things i don’t recall off the top of my head. I recommend it if you’re gung-ho with keeping track of your credit scores, credit reports, and ways to fix your ish.
  • Mint
    • Used to like it despite its bugs and quirkiness, such as: inability to add some accounts, usually those setup to use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) such as Vanguard; and adding/changing categories for transactions has been rife with inconsistencies the last few years. The updating transaction issues i’ve only run into on the web browser version of Mint.You connect your bank accounts, loan accounts, mortgage, and it will show the details and aggregate of all your transactions. Great to see everything you do daily in one place. Can categorize your transactions to see where your money is going. Or don’t. It can be depressing seeing how much you actually spend at restaurants or bars or shopping or wherever. Up to you. I recommend Personal Capital over Mint, but Mint’s still useful. I prefer Mints out-the-box categories and sub-categories over Personal Capital.

      Update/Note: After talking with an expat friend (US), you may not be able to sign up because you need an active US-based phone number for SMS verification. Google Voice # doesn’t work. Personal Capital allows GV verification.

  • Personal Capital
    • Awesome sauce. Just about every good feature that Mint has, PC has. Best money management app i’ve used. Sign up for this immediately! Highly recommend over Mint, mostly because it has the option to add Acorns, Coinbase, and Robinhood accounts, as well! Mint doesn’t have these as options. Tsk tsk.No issues when adding custom categories, and if there’s a problem connecting an account, there are detailed explanations why and how to fix it. The ability to quickly see my net worth and all accounts all in one place, as well as turning on daily and weekly account summary and analysis emails, are choice features. These act as a frequent reminder of what i need to fix, and how i’ve improved month to month.

      Update/Note: US expats can do SMS verification via Google Voice phone number.

  • Acorns
    • Automatic investing into ETFs. You have two ways to deposit money for investing.
      • Round ups, where every purchase rounds up to the dollar and that difference is put into your account. Say you spend $1.24 at CVS, that $0.76 will automatically be sent to your Acorns account once you hit at $5 in round ups. You can also multiply the round ups if you so choose for more automatic saving/investing.
      • Manual/automatic deposit, you can stipulate every last day of the month to invest $25 or every two weeks. Or you can do one-time investments. Your choice.
      • Takes 3-5 business days to withdraw money back into your bank account, by the way. Oh, and an Acorns debit card will be introduced by the end of 2018. I signed up for beta access to it at the beginning of the year. It was on a limited, trial basis. I’ll let you know what i think once i get my card.
  • Coinbase
    • Use to keep track of my paltry cryptocurrency investing. I’ve seen nothing but losses this year, so i just check daily to see if maybe i’ve broken even yet lol. With Coinbase on the verge of adding dozens if not hundreds of cryptocurrencies to its system, look to get setup NOW rather than later since it takes about a week to get everything setup, verified and ready to buy/sell currencies.
  • CreditWise by Capital One
    • A free monitoring service for everyone and not just Capital One customers. It keeps you abreast of your TransUnion score.
  • Earnin
    • This app is an i-am-in-a-financial-pinch life saver. It’s a modern version of a payday advance, but without the wild, predatory APR (300-400% is typical!). Earnin checks your bank account direct deposits from your employer, and using geolocation to verify hours spent at your job, they can spot you $100 a day for a fee — called a “tip” — of your choice. You can give as low as $1 each time they spot you. And on your next payday, the total amount they spotted you plus your tip is automatically debited from your account.So for instance, say you were advanced $100 on three separate days during the pay period, and you set $1, $3, $4 as the respective tips, come payday, they’d debit out $308. It could have been only $303 if you wanted. Awesome sauce. This was just a sample scenario — a real one that i actually did. It’s great when you need a quick influx of cash to pay for something in the middle of weird payday schedule without having exorbitant fees like a traditional payday loan/advance would be. It’s also helped me to have access to funds when my next paycheck wouldn’t hit until after credit cards’ due and reported dates for the month. With the advanced money, i was able to pay off fully my credit card, which helped boost my FICO score. It’s handy as heck when used correctly.
  • Nav (for business owners!)
    • If you own a business, you need to check out Nav. It put me on to the FICO SBSS Score, which is basically a business version of your personal FICO credit score you already (should) know about. Having both your business and personal scores in one place is hella useful. Here’s some more info about the FICO SBSS Score straight from the Nav website:
      • FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠, (or FICO® SBSS℠ score) is one of the three main business credit scores. It’s the one credit score all business owners should know, but many have never heard of it because, until now, it’s been hard to get your hands on it. Banks aren’t required to disclose that they use the FICO® SBSS℠ score and very little information exists about it online. More lenders are using it because it helps them make faster, more accurate lending decisions. This means they can make decisions in hours, not days.”
  • NerdWallet
    • Free. Similar to Credit Sesame and Credit Karma; i signed up and use it just as another tool to monitor my credit scores and seeing what their recommendations are.
  • Robinhood
    • Stock investing for free! And by free that means no fees per trade. Also once you’re out of a probationary period of a few days/money stipulations, you can trade Options. It’s almost immediate to get money from your bank account into your Robinhood account to buy some stocks or put some options. Do it.
  • Experian app (Android)
    • After getting my free annual credit report via annualcreditreport.com — the only legit, government approved site for free credit report — i signed up for Experian’s free services and they had insight into my credit report and scores that other services didn’t show.

And that’s it. Well, that was kind of a lot, but i hope it helps! If you have any other apps/services that you recommend, please Tweet me or add them in the comments below.

Good luck and increased knowledge about your finances!

Cheers.

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