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Family Money

Even if you work with a certified financial planner that uses private software and you feel that all your personal finances are in order, you should still be aware of how much money is coming in and where it is going.

As a mobile society, many people use their smartphones and tablets as their primary connection to online information. Use of mobile apps gives you the ability to manage bills, check the latest prices of commodities, and even control your stock portfolio. Gone are days of excel spreadsheets, as financial apps are organizing our virtual wallets.

Currently, my husband and I only use two financial apps — our bank's mobile banking app and Mint Personal Finance. Our credit union has an easy to use app for mobile banking for android and iOS. The app is free and once signed up, you can easily access your accounts, view balance transfers, deposit checks and pay bills online.

Top-rated Mint Personal Finance (www.mint.com) ties bank, credit, loan and retirement accounts together in one location, so you can get the complete picture of your finances. It is personalized, allowing us to create successful budgets, receive alerts for unusual activity and view custom tips for reducing fees and saving money. It is connected to almost every U.S. financial institution on the internet and it is simple and free to set up.

We've also considered Personal Capital (www.personalcapital.com) to follow our investments. It easily tracks performance by account or asset class and allows you to compare your portfolio in major indices. This free app offers investment checkups and 401(k) and mutual-fund fee calculators. Both Mint and Personal Capital apps are "read-only systems" for security purposes.

After researching other free apps, I also like the idea of Better Haves (www.betterhaves.com). It is an app that easily shares every step of your budget with your partner. It distributes income in envelopes for each expense category, tracks expenses by taking income from envelopes as you spend it, helps you stay on budget by agreeing that once an envelope is empty that there will be no more spending in that category and adjusts your budget to help you save more until your next deposit.

There are even free apps that allow you to track your daily cash flow and suggest where you could shave off spending and ultimately build your nest egg. Keeping your finances organized through smartphone apps can be a key to financial success.

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Pouches is ready to kayak on the beautiful Rappahannock River. She’s also ready to learn more about how she can protect the river’s health using the Friends of the Rappahannock new River Report Card, sponsored by a surprise grant from the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region (CFRRR).

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