Personal finances are often overlooked as a great opportunity for making
responsible, sustainable choices for both yourself and the planet. By
taking a few simple steps to manage your money, you can have an enormous
impact on the environment and even make a few guiltless dollars. To
help you navigate all the different options, we’ve rounded up 5 tech
tips to manage your money that won’t break the bank – or the earth.
1. Get Organized and De-Clutter!
Since most banks now offer online banking, the hassle of filing financial paperwork has been reduced to nothing more than a simple click. Although most people are already on the virtual banking bandwagon, many bank customers have yet to officially cancel paper statements. If you’re still in that boat, make sure that you opt out of paper statements online, or through your local banking branch.
Paperless banking also has the added advantage of being more secure, convenient, and of course, easier on the environment. According to HSBC’s paperless plan, many of the risks associated with identity theft such as stolen mail, fake accounts, credit cards, or loans opened in your name become null and void.
Once you finally put the kibosh on conventional bank statements, you might want an effective tool to digitally convert all of your paper files. Enter Doxie: a small scanner that allows users to scan everything from receipts to important documents in full color for digital storage. Featured in respected publications like MacWorld, Wired, and U.S. News, this mini-scanner packs the necessary punch to give your office space some much-needed breathing room.
2. Online Banking Options
Once you’re feeling footloose and paper-free, you should familiarize yourself with the variety of online banking options that are out there. Online banking, past statements, current statements, bills, deposits, transfers, credit cards, and more can all be managed under one virtual umbrella. Talk to your bank’s local branch, or check out Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Chase, Citibank, HSBC, TD, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo for more information about their ever-expanding paperless services.
3. Online and Mobile Money Management
In addition to internet-based banking services, many banks offer iPhone, Blackberry, and Droid apps for keeping customers better connected. Chase bank even developed an iPhone app that allows customers to deposit checks wirelessly by photographing the front and back of deposits. While that technology hasn’t caught on quite yet, deviceopedia.com still ranks Chase bank’s mobile app as the best out there because of its smooth user-interface and live-support features. Citibank comes in a close second place, and Bank of America and Wells Fargo follow shortly after for their up-to-par mobile features.
In addition to the wide range of options that banks offer their customers, there are several safe and secure independent financial apps available for smartphones. One of the most well-known and commonly used apps for personal finance management is Mint, which is readily accessible through the internet, and several smartphones. The format is read-only, so any connected bank accounts cannot be hacked from the site. Mint also allows you to combine your different bank accounts, investments, and credit cards onto one platform so that you can organize your finances more easily. For those of us with leaky pockets, their automatic charts and budgeting tools help you to keep your piggy bank in check.
Of course, there are several other applications for personal finances that help monitor more specific aspects of your finances. People looking for an in-depth app to track their budgeting need look no further than iExpenseOnline for detailed graph generators, and data evaluation. Taxes too can be completed online through sites like TurboTax and H&R Block as well as on your smartphone through their various mobile apps. While there are definitely more personal finance apps for iOS, there are a growing number of money management apps for Droid and Blackberry as well which can help you get a better idea of where you stand financially.
4. Invest Green
In addition to managing your money online, many people forget that stock portfolios can always use some greening too. Micro-loans, battery technology, solar energy, wind power, geothermal power, and cradle-to-cradle production are all examples of potentially lucrative investments that help spur the transition to a cleaner society. Many banks and wealth management firms have advisers that specialize in guiding investors through the pros and cons of buying stock in green businesses. Ask a financial adviser about these services, or check out Yes Investing for ideas on how to redirect your stock portfolio in an ethically and environmentally affirmative direction.