4 Simple Tools to Help Plan Your Financial Future

If you are part of the Millennial generation, or possibily younger, there’s a solid chance that financial insecurity is at the top of your mind. While three out of four Millennials are currently saving for the future, a 2020 poll from Bank of America has found that 76% carry debt, and more than 50% feel behind the curve on their financial goals.  

Yikes! That doesn’t exactly sound like it bodes well.

However, there is an upside to all of this (we promise!). Millennials also tend to be remarkably practical and frugal when it comes to overall money habits. For instance, the Bank of America survey also reports the following:   

  • 82% would rather live in a smaller, more affordable home
  • 73% choose a minimalist lifestyle to save for the future
  • 68% make sacrifices to pay off debt faster  
  • 55% track their expenses on a regular basis
  • 48% put money into a savings account each month
  • 75% (of those who save) plan for retirement
  • 51% (of those who save) contribute to an emergency fund
  • 28% (of those who save) invest in the stock market
  • 46% pay off their credit card balance in full
  • 39% increased their credit score last year
  • 31% create a monthly budget (and 34% stick to it)
  • 27% have reduced their monthly spending

Thanks for the assurance, but finances are still confusing!

It’s clear our generation has both the desire and drive to be more financially literate, but it’s often hard to know where to start on that goal. 

How much income should you earmark for savings each month? What’s the difference between an IRA and a 401K—and which is the better option for retirement? How can you build a secure investment portfolio? Which is more crucial to budget for: a house down payment or a dream vacation? So. Many. Questions. 

If the topic of finances is enough to make your head spin, we guarantee you’re not alone. An estimated 44% of Millennials were “stressed all the time” last year, and of those in this category, 77% cited long-term financial concerns as a main source of their anxiety, based on the 2020 Deloitte Millennial Survey

So…what’s should the financially stressed out do?

If this predicament sounds familiar, then allow us to ease some of your confusion and mental burden. Here’s a list of financial management tools, all of which can be accessed on your mobile device. Plan for the future and make wise money decisions with just the swipe of a finger. What could be more convenient?!

For Help with a Budget: Mint

  • Cost to Use: Free
  • Where to Download: Apple Store & Google Play

If you are new to budgets—or want a centralized platform to track and manage your cash flow—Mint is the solution. This tool helps you create a budget that’s customizable based on your living expenses, spending habits and saving plans. You can monitor transactions, ensure bills are paid on time, sync investment accounts, and visualize where you need to cut back in order to reach your financial goals.  

For Help With Investing: Betterment 

  • Cost to Use: Free
  • Where to Download: Apple Store & Google Play 

Robo advisor platforms (a recent trend in finance tech) eliminate the guesswork from learning how to invest, and Betterment is an excellent choice for first-timers. There is no fee to use this service, but .40% of your annual invested balance will be taken out in exchange for unlimited access to Betterment financial planners. Create and diversify a portfolio, and even maximize the social impact of your investments.    

For Help with Retirement: Acorns

  • Cost to Use:  $3.00/month
  • Where to Download: Apple Store & Google Play

If you are not on a 401K plan through your workplace, fear not: Acorns has you covered with a user-friendly platform that makes saving for retirement a breeze. Once this tool matches you with the right Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for your specific needs, you can automate a recurring contribution—even if it’s just $5.00 each month—and allow the IRA to accrue interest through investment opportunities.

For Help with Debt Payoff: Qoins

  • Cost to Use: $2.99/month
  • Where to Download: Apple Store & Google Play 

Whether you want to be free of student loans, vehicle payments, credit card bills or some other debt, Qoins can help you reach this goal 10 times faster than it might take you otherwise. The strategy behind this tool is simple—Qoins teaches you how to put loose change to work toward debt elimination. This service also makes payments and negotiates with lenders on your behalf, while boosting your credit score too.    

April is Financial Literacy Month, so tell us: Are you on a mission to plan for your own financial future and develop smarter money habits in 2021? Have you found success with any of these tools, or is there another mobile platform that you think is worth adding to our list? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.

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