By Gerri Willis
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I blame my overspending on modern life. Let's face it, who hasn't looked at a mysterious one or two dollar fee on our credit card statement, shrugged our shoulders and just paid it? Who has the time to fight every nickel and dime? Then, there's my health insurance provider. After every visit to my doctor, I get an itemized bill of costs for each service and test rendered. By the time the bill does come weeks or even months later, I've lost track of the charges I was sent.
Fortunately, there is a better way. And, it comes via modern life -- apps that can save you time and track your money. Here are some worth investigating:
- Billguard: This iPhone app has the time and discipline to scour your credit card bill for unwanted "grey" charges, even if you don't. It watches for those recurring items that you never intended to order by consolidating the experiences of other consumers. The app connects with your credit card providers using the name and password you use to connect to your account online. One downside: You can add two cards for free, but any more and you'll pay a one-time fee.
- Simplee: This app brings together data from your health insurance accounts. If you are spending a fair amount of time at the doctor's office, or even if you aren't, Simplee can help. The app tells you your total medical costs, tracks how much you've paid out of pocket, your deductible and total doctor visits. You can make your payments directly from the app. Many of the major insurers, Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Delta Dental support the platform.
- SigFig: It happens all too often -- you have retirement and investment accounts with a number of different brokers and investment managers and seeing the total pie is impossible. This app can bring it all together by connecting your accounts to this service. You can see your total asset allocation and performance with a single click. I hear mixed reviews on the investment recommendations. Having said that, though, the app's ability to alert you when you are paying high fees for funds compared to competitors in the same category is worth the price of admission.
- Mint: This is the grandaddy of personal finance apps that integrates info from all major banks and institutions. It's easy to get started, and all your info -- every transaction -- automatically appears in the app. You can set financial goals and budget and explore ways to invest all from this single app. It calculates your net worth and updates your personal financial situation every single day.
Of course, it's not all about a comprehensive look at your personal financial situation. Some apps have much more modest goals. GasBuddy is a go-to app for consumers trying to find the cheapest gas in their neighborhood and relies on consumer reporting to get its info. We often recommend RedLaser, a barcode scanning app for price comparisons. The app helps you find out whether there is a cheaper price for the item you are shopping for at nearby retailers.
In the end, though, even apps require some effort to stay updated. You'll need to monitor what's going on and enter new information. Alas, they haven't completed automated your financial life. Not yet, anyway.