Personal Finance Apps

There’s an app for that.

It’s great to see all the apps for managing and learning about finances on your smartphone or tablet. There are bank apps (which tend to be quite good), budgeting apps, apps that will help you pay down debts and keep track of your investments.   There are even things like PayPig, a gamified tool for teaching kids about money. I am sure they will all have their happy users, but my push-back is that better tech doesn’t necessarily mean better financial literacy.

As my ongoing research shows, women learn best through stories and real life experience. Let me give you two examples:

A friend of mine recently confessed she didn’t understand why the price of bonds dropped when interest rates went up: she’d seen all kinds of academic posts talking about duration and convexity and other advanced mathematical concepts. She’s a PhD, and still didn’t get it. But after hearing the formulas into a simple story, she got the idea at once, and will remember it forever now.

My Dad passed away a few weeks ago, and after more than 60 years of letting him handle things, my 85 year old mother is now in financial charge. She doesn’t need an app for the smartphone she doesn’t own. In fact, she loves ‘balancing her chequebook’ with pen and paper! I have had a number of financial conversations with her, and none of them involve compound interest or loan repayments. Instead, we talk about people we have known, and real world stories that help her make smart life choices with her savings and Dad’s estate.

Which isn’t to say that personal finance apps can’t be useful – just that they are not the only tool in the drawer. And maybe not even the most important tool…

If you ‘d like to explore personal finance apps to see if one might be right for you, Wired’s Best Of…list is a great place to start.