Many of us are familiar with mobile apps. We have games, health trackers, learning portals, Bibles, social media and much more on our phones. How many of us have personal finance management (PFM) apps? For those of us struggling with financial discipline, mobile fintech apps would definitely help to push us a long way towards meeting our financial goals.
There are many free apps in our phones’ stores which have vital PFM functions like budgeting, expense tracking, managing credits, managing bills, data analysis, bank accounts interface, investment management, tax management and much more.
Budgeting and Expenditure –The budgeting function suggests different expense headings that you may want to budget for and some apps recommend what percentage of your income should be spent on each expense head. The budgeting function works in tandem with the expense tracker; which as the name suggests tracks every expense made. Every month (or whatever period you choose) the app compares your budget with your expenses (using graphs and charts) and helps you to identify how disciplined you are in sticking to your budget. I can already hear people complaining about the stress of having to type every single expense into the tiny keyboard on their phones. There’s a solution. Some apps just require that you take a picture of your receipt and with one or two clicks, the app would categorise the expense appropriately.
Bills Management – Some apps have features that enable the app to send you an SMS when you have bills due for payment. They can even debit your bank account and credit the beneficiary automatically. This is very helpful for recurring bills with uniform amounts e.g. mortgage payments, cable TV subscription, monthly rent and insurance premium. Though the bank account interface and auto-debit feature are yet to be enabled by Nigerian banks, we can still enjoy the reminders.
Investment Management – This feature provides limited financial advice; using artificial intelligence to analyze data and profile the app user. It helps you to create investment goals and monitors your progress in achieving the goals. The apps also help with portfolio diversification as they easily provide tables and charts that analyze your investments. Investment data can be uploaded to the app and exported using Excel and other applicable formats. The app would also send an SMS when an investment is maturing and requires a rollover or additional financing. Again, there may not be the need to manually type all the data into your phone as many apps allow data to be uploaded or photographed.
Tax Management – With the limited resources of both federal and states governments, tax revenue has become highly sought after. The tax management feature is useful both for personal and business finances as it can process different types of taxes (e.g. value-added, withholding, corporate income, education etc.) simultaneously. For the individual who is not in the PAYE (pay as you go) system, the tax management feature helps to calculate her obligation to her state government in personal income tax so long as the correct tax rate and tax-exempt data are accurately imputed.
We have always insisted that secure identification is a fundamental requirement for fintech apps. Many of the apps come with app locks that require at least a 2-step authentication of passcode and biometric identification before access is granted. Such biometric identification like fingerprints, iris scan or facial recognition is important features to look out for in choosing a mobile PFM app because it ascertains that access would only be granted to you. So even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, they would not be able to access the app. However, the best solution when a phone is lost is the remote deleting of all the data stored on it. This feature is available on most phones. Data integrity and availability are also fundamental requirements. Look out for apps that assure you of automatic back up of data, access from multiple devices (if you so desire) and export features that enable you to export the data especially the tables, graphs and charts, to other apps or devices. The unprocessed data can also be exported via Excel worksheets.
So, what are we waiting for? That explore our phones’ app stores and freely acquire the personal financial advisor that would help us attain our financial goals.