It’s common knowledge that you should start planning for retirement early. Staying on track requires learning how to carve out savings and knowing how to manage it all to make sure you have enough when the time comes.
Whether you’re in the early stages of the planning process or you’re further down the line and need help managing the money you’ve already set aside, your phone can help. Getting in the habit of staying on top of your goals is important and having everything you need right on your phone is an easy way to regularly check in when you’re on the go. When used alongside professional assistance, these online tools are a great resource to have on your phone to help secure your long-term financial stability.
Educate yourself on the basics
If you didn’t take a financial planning course in school or you don’t have family members or friends who can help, an online course can get you off to a great start as you begin saving. There are several sites that offer relevant classes, including these two well-respected options:
Alison.com – This site offers more than 1,000 free courses, including several focused on financial and retirement planning. For those who need proof of successful completion, certificates and diplomas are available for a fee. Alison’s publishers include familiar names like Khan Academy and Google, as well as educational institutions like MIT and Columbia.
Udemy – Udemy offers dozens of financial- and retirement-related courses for a small fee. Although the platform is well-established, instructors are independent of the overall institution. Before you sign up for a course, read the reviews and teacher bios to make sure it’s a good fit.
Get a handle on your budget
No matter what your income is, a budget is a smart way to keep you focused on your goals and ensure your spending stays on track. Your bank probably has a mobile app, making it easy to quickly and easily keep an eye on your checking and savings account right from your phone. Most even have tools to help you save, such as automatic transfers and the ability to split your paycheck between two or more accounts.
However, sticking to a budget isn’t always easy, and the right app or website can help provide even more visual accountability. A few good options include:
YNAB (You Need a Budget) – If you’re new to budgeting or anxious about getting started, YNAB is simple enough for beginners and powerful enough to stay with you as you get the hang of it. It’s a great tool to use to set your budget and stick to it.
Mint – Mint isn’t just for budgeting — it tracks all your accounts, monitors your spending, and even helps you manage your investments.
Set aside savings
In the end, all the budgeting and knowledge in the world won’t help if you’re not saving anything. These sites can help ensure that you’re making positive strides:
Acorns – Acorns is a micro-transaction service that helps you save a little bit at a time (much like a squirrel with acorns). Connect your credit and debit cards to Acorns and it will round up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar, depositing the extra money into a savings account. While you probably won’t be able to retire on your Acorns stash alone, it’s a good way to supplement your savings and help you build a small emergency account.
Chime – Most banks allow you to set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account. This approach helps ensure that the money is gone from sight before you have a chance to spend it. Chime takes it one step further by offering a mobile-only bank account without many of the standard fees other banks charge.
Have a long-term plan
Once you’ve worked on creating positive financial habits and have established savings and investment accounts, it’s time to start figuring out just how far that nest egg will go. The AARP Retirement Calculator and the MSN Money Retirement Planner are two of the many options available online to help you do the math and set long-term goals.
Financial and retirement planning doesn’t need to be overwhelming. These online tools can help you get started in securing a financially sound future.
Christy Matte is Boston-based writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She is a die-hard techie who enjoys video games, surfing the web, and any gadget she can get her hands on.