Financial Apps for Lazy People

lazyIf you’re like me, you want to use your money well. You want to buy things you want. You want to pay yourself first by setting a few dollars aside for emergencies and investing a few coins for retirement. You want to pay your bills on time, and in full every month but those things rarely happen the way you know they should. Behavioral economics explains that most people do better when things are automated and we don’t have to actively make choices. Why do you think so many people know exactly what they need to do and then they still don’t do it?

Making good financial decisions with every single purchase day in and day out is challenging. Instead of making things harder for yourself why not use automatic savings and/or investment apps? Here is a round up of what’s available.

 

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Apps for Automatic Saving

Digit – There is a free trial period of 100 days. It’s $2.99 a month after that. It basically uses an algorithm to figure out how much money can be moved from your checking account into your Digit savings account. Digit accounts are FDIC insured. There is a desktop version and an app. FAQs are here.

Qapital – Free. You set “rules” that tell the app when and how much money to move to your Qapital account to reach your savings goals. It’s a little more complicated than Digit. Qapital accounts are FDIC insured. App only. FAQs are here.

To read a comparison of Digit and Qapital, click here.

 

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Apps for Automatic Investing

Acorns – It’s $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000 in them. The app rounds up the change from purchases and invests the change in the stock market. Find out more here.

Stash – There is a $5 minimum and $1 monthly fee for accounts under $5,000. You decide when to invest and how much to invest. Find out more here.

 

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Apps to Manage it All

Mint – Free.

YNAB You Need a Budget – Free for 34 days and $4.17 every month after that.

 

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Personal Finance Software

Quicken Money – if you’re not a fan of phone apps but you’d still like to keep an eye on your money, this may be the software for you. It tracks spending, can track investments, and even comes with a free app if you’re so inclined.

 

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Other Options

If all this sounds like a little too much, you can stick with the tools provided by your financial institution (many offer programs to help you save the change from transactions or create a holiday savings account), invest in your 401k or 403b through your job, or invest for retirement on your own by opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) through whatever company suits you.

Whatever works for you is best. There is no right or wrong. It’s important that you start now though. Even if you can only use the change from your purchases, something is always better than nothing. Take advantage of compound interest and start now.

 

 

 

 

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Good Bye MyRA

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MyRA was a program started to help young people and the working poor invest for retirement. Contributions could be as low as $5. The hope that young people and people with few resources could take part in investing for retirement (because we all know Social Security isn’t gonna be enough) was a lofty goal. This may have been especially helpful for people of color since we’ve all read the studies about net worth and cycles of poverty.

Unfortunately, the MyRA program will be stopped under the Trump administration. It was never really given the resources to take off. That was the main reason given for its close. The working poor don’t have lots of options to move up the socio-economic ladder and now they’ll have one less option.

New CA Bill Forces All Employees to Invest for Retirement

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Senate leader Kevin de León has put forth a bill that would require all California companies, that have at least five employees, to offer their own retirement investment plan or enroll workers in the new California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. Though employees could always invest for retirement using an IRA, while getting almost the exact same benefits of the Secure Choice program, many people haven’t taken advantage. As Time Magazine says, ” .. when it comes to putting money away, an employer nudge really matters: 90% of those with workplace plans save for retirement vs. only 20% of those without one.”

What bill does:

  • Requires that employers with more than 5 employees offer some kind of retirement investment plan to employees.
  • Offers a way for employees to invest for retirement directly from their paycheck.
  • Starts employee contributions at between 2% and 5% of their paychecks (the exact details haven’t been hammered out yet).
  • Automatically enrolls employees (about 6.8 Californians) unless the employee chooses to opt out.

What the bill doesn’t do:

  • Does not require employers to “match” contributions or provide funds for the retirement of employees.
  • Does not assume the risk of investing (investors could lose money).
  • This program does NOT provide assured payouts during retirement (it is NOT a pension plan).

San Jose’s Mercury News:

At first the money would be invested in safe, low-yield U.S. Treasury notes. After three years, the funds would likely shift to a diverse portfolio of stocks and bounds. These options would be developed by the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board. The accounts would likely be Roth IRAs, a mode that allows for tax-free withdrawals upon retirement.

The amount of money deducted from a worker’s payroll would escalate over time, up to 10 percent, but employees would be able to set the amount themselves.

Time Magazine:

All told, at least 30 states are in various stages of setting up retirement plans—some mandatory for employers and some voluntary—according to the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives.

At any rate, the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan is heading to an employer near you. I’m waiting to hear more about the specific details but this is coming. Do you think it will encourage more employees to invest for retirement? Head over to the Bigger Than Your Block Facebook page and give your opinion.

 

 

 

 

myRA Might Be the Solution for High School and College Students

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If you’ve read “10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money” you know that I am a HUGE advocate of young people investing from retirement as soon as they have earned income. For many people that time is while in high school or college while you’re working part-time or eeking a living out of financial aid. Often, young people don’t know how to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or don’t think they have enough money to open one (get my list of investment accounts you can open for less than $100 here).

The United States government is here to help with the new myRA (my retirement account, get it?). According to the U.S. Treasury,  these accounts are:

  • Easy to set up (you can have the money deducted from your payroll check if you wish)
  • Designed to help people with little money or no access to a retirement plan from work.
  • No risk of losing money (funds are invested in a Thrift Savings Plan-like account)
  • The funds you invest are NOT tax-deductible but you also can take them out whenever you like without penalty.

The best part? There is no minimum amount required to start an account and according to Forbes, ” additional contributions only have a minimum of $5.” The goal is really to get you into the habit of investing when you are young and have few dollars. The return isn’t great (think 1% or 2% per year) compared to a regular traditional or Roth IRA or 401(k)/403(b) but starting now with a few dollars and little interest is better than not doing anything.

Fool.com also notes:

Account holders can contribute up to $5,500 per year ($6,500 if over 50) and may continue to contribute until their total account balance reaches $15,000. All funds are invested in a newly created Treasury bond

Once you’ve grown a nest egg big enough to open a traditional or Roth IRA, or you have a job that provides a 401(k) or 401(b) hopefully with matching, you can roll the money over into a new account.

Click here to find out more about myRA accounts.

 

 

Retirement Survey 2016

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Are you investing for retirement? Do you use a work-sponsored plan? An individual retirement account? Will you have enough money to retire on?

Take our anonymous 9 question survey to help us learn how to serve you better. We don’t collect any identifying information from you. We just want to know about the trends in retirement so we can plan webinars, books and speaking events to help you plan.

Thank you for taking a moment to share. Don’t forget to invite others to share as well.

 

 

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Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, NBC Latino and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

Wanted: Single Women to Invest

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Financial Advisor Magazine just came in the mail. This month there is an article about attracting more single women as clients. There are two great quotes that I wanted to share with you:

“Women are better investors than men” – Wibberly, CIC Wealth

“80% of men will die married but 80% of women will die single” – Penta BBH, Center for Women & Wealth

If those two quotes aren’t enough to get to start investing, I don’t know what else to do. Those quotes tell us that women are AWESOME at investing and that heterosexual women are going to have a substantial amount of time not married (at least our 20s and ten, fifteen, perhaps 20 years after our partners die). What are you waiting for?

Start investing now. If your job offers you a 401k or 403b (tax benefits and usually matching) start contributing now. Call HR. Now. If you’re worried about how much money is going to start coming out of your check, start by contributing just 1% and increase your contribution percentage a bit every year.

If your job doesn’t offer you a retirement plan, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) as soon as possible. Depending on whether you choose traditional or Roth there are tax benefits now or tax benefits later. You won’t get the matching but you will get to take advantage of compound interest.

Not sure where to begin? Find a fee-only advisor and get hopping! If you’re 30 years old and can contribute $415 per month you can build a million dollar nest egg by the time you retire at 67 years old. Can’t contribute that much? No worries. Something is better than nothing. If your nest egg ends up smaller than you’d like, you can partner your investments with your Social Security payments and go live in one of these 8 beautiful countries.

Either way, it’s time to get hopping.