06 February 2018

How fintech could help you achieve your money goals

We're only a few weeks into the new year, yet by February 1, millions of people will have abandoned their resolutions.

They'll have slipped and eaten that extra piece of cake, or blown their budgets on a wine-fuelled gourmet dinner, and now those lofty New Year's goals seem pointless.

But mistakes are part of the process, especially when your resolutions involve better financial management. You don't reach your savings goals in one month, you don't stay on budget the first time you try, and you don't achieve investment returns overnight. Financial accomplishments happen over time, and they're the product of small but smart, habit-forming decisions.

Fortunately, a spate of new fintech apps can help you stay on the straight and narrow, no matter what money goals you're trying to reach.

Track and control your spending

Personal finance software programs enable you to track all your expenditures in one place so you can see your biggest expenses and spot areas where you can improve your behaviour.

Many leading personal finance software companies link your current, savings, and credit card accounts to provide a comprehensive picture of your financial life. They also let you to set budgets for different spending categories and create goals you can monitor each month.

Perhaps most usefully, they offer smartphone apps so you can check your progress wherever you are. A quick glance at your budget might stay your hand when contemplating airline tickets for an impromptu (and ill-considered) weekend in Amsterdam. Find out more about Nationwide’s mobile banking app.

Automate where possible

If you're forgetful or easily distracted, consider setting up automatic payments for credit cards and recurring bills. Most companies allow you to schedule minimum monthly payments, which gives you the option of committing to manageable sums that will keep your accounts current. When you have more disposable income, you can schedule an extra payment or two to get ahead of your debt.

Perhaps you often find yourself indebted to friends for rounds of drinks or concert tickets. Instead of having to remind yourself to bring cash the next time you see them, use a service such as PayM (which is available in the Nationwide app) that allows you to send money automatically to your contacts that are registered to use the service. That way you can pay promptly, and you can enjoy not letting awkward money conversations get in the way of your good times.

Smart saving

We all know we should save more, but squirrelling away money is easier said than done. Unless you automate your savings by, say, having a portion of your salary deposited into a dedicated account, you can let months - even years - go by without setting anything aside. Saving feels especially daunting if you're weighed down by debt and have little left over each month as it is.

But saving anything is better than nothing. In his book "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind", author T. Harv Eker recommends saving even small amounts on a regular basis. So what if you can only save £10 or £20 a month? Those deposits add up, and by the time you have more income, you'll have wired yourself to save.

There are several smartphone apps that will link to your bank account to track your spending and determine where it can grab small amounts to direct into your savings. You might not be able to set aside £100 a week, but surely you can give up the cost of a pricey lunch or two.

Whatever it is that you’re saving for, a great way to start is by setting yourself a savings goal. And if you’re a Nationwide saver and use our banking app, you can even set up a savings goal and keep track of how you’re progressing on the app. While in the app you can also use 'Impulse Saver' which is a quick way to move money from your Nationwide current account to your savings account.

Stick at it!

Yearly resolutions are called yearly for a reason. It takes time to reverse bad habits or develop new money management skills. Fortunately, the proliferation of personal finance fintech apps makes goal-setting and achievement a bit easier all the time.

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About the author

Casey Hynes

Casey Hynes is a freelance journalist writing about fintech, AI, economic development and personal finance. She's written for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

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