In addition to providing news, entertainment and access to social networking, mobile devices and apps can also make tracking your investments and the financial markets more convenient than ever before. Though this is good news for those who are interested in learning more about how their investments perform, be careful not to let these tools guide your financial decisions.
Apps and widgets that allow you access to fast information can be more of a hindrance than a help if they distract you from your long-term financial goals. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the amount of information available at your fingertips, become strategic. Select a few apps or online tools and put them to work for you in the right way – by simplifying your finances and helping you make educated decisions. Here are some to consider:
Enjoy easy access – Consumer banking and trading platforms have become more accessible with the advent of smartphones and tablets. To give yourself quick, secure access to your personal banking, credit card, brokerage and other financial accounts, download your bank’s verified app. Having all of your accounts in one place makes it much easier to check on things on-the-go, while they’re fresh in your mind.
Know the lay of the land – The financial markets produce mountains of data, which can make it difficult to understand how your investments are performing beyond the day-to-day. Fortunately, interactive tools like Smart Money’s Map of the Market can help you cut through the daily chatter to get to the things you need to know – how specific sectors and the biggest players in your portfolio are performing.
Get daily intel – If you’re interested in seeing how your investments are performing day-to-day, there are a number of online resources available that can supplement traditional consumer financial news. For example, apps like Mint.com and Market Scan offer reports on individual stocks, including detailed ratings, organized in a simple way. These kinds of tools are great for getting instant information on a specific stock before you decide to invest, or to keep track of those which are already part of your portfolio.
While apps and online tools can help you manage your finances, they are not substitutes for professional advice and long-term planning. Markets will always be unpredictable, and the deluge of daily information – paired with the quick draw effect of your phone or tablet – can lead to impulsive and emotional decisions. The key is to set realistic goals and review your accounts on a routine basis. Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you work through this process.