Fintech Tools To Help You Master Money Mindfulness In 2021
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“Mindfulness” is one of those zeitgeisty words that has invaded everything from beauty routines to breakfast cereal. Myriad brands promise mindful solutions to eating, exercising and using technology.
Understandably, all the noise about mindful living may leave some consumers confused about what, exactly, it means. Even the finance industry has jumped on the bandwagon, which is particularly perplexing. After all, what’s “mindful” about the stock market?
But just because mindfulness is a buzzword doesn’t mean it has no merit. The simple idea underpinning mindful finance is being more thoughtful and intentional about your money habits.
Think of it as the antithesis to impulse purchases, unnecessary credit card debt and stress shopping. And let’s be honest: Plenty of people became familiar with that last habit in 2020, i.e.
, the year that shall not be named.
If you’re coming the Covid-19 quarantine in need of a financial reset, the below tools are worth investigating. These platforms can help you develop a more mindful approach to spending, budgeting, investing and saving.
Fintech for Smarter and More Mindful Spending
Mindful finance isn’t synonymous with budgeting—but having a budget certainly helps, especially if you tend to spend superfluously. Without any real knowledge of where your money is going, it can be easy to hit “add to cart” a little too quickly.
You’ve probably already heard about the heavy hitters in the budgeting space. With more than 10 million active users, Mint remains one of the top choices in this category. The platform’s features—including data-driven, custom-tailored insights—help users trim the fat from their finances. Mint can also help you identify areas of excess, such as subscriptions you no longer use.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is another well-known budgeting tool. It provides intuitive features for financial planning, including goal-tracking and personalized status reports. Up-and-coming players CountAbout and Albert are also popular among users looking for an all-in-one dashboard to keep tabs on bank accounts, debts, savings and investments.
“One neat feature about CountAbout is that it helps you track how close to financial independence you are,” explains Sam Zelinka, a CountAbout brand ambassador.
“It has a ‘FIRE’ (Financial Independence/Retire Early) widget that calculates estimated passive income from your assets and compares it against your monthly expenses.
This provides visual motivation to practice mindful spending every time you log in.”
Fintech for a Holistic Approach to Financial Health
While an automated budget is a great place to start, being mindful about money involves more than merely identifying the ins and outs of your income. A budget may help outline the “how” for money mindfulness, but it leaves out a key psychological factor—the “why.”
A few platforms are helping users dig into this nebulous territory. Nav.it, for instance, aims to be a “fitness tracker for finances.
” The app gathers benchmark data, including basic demographics and nuanced metrics around users’ feelings of self-efficacy and confidence.
It encourages users to log their “money mood” to identify correlations between emotions and spending. The app then offers suggestions on ways to improve financial wellbeing.
“Financial health is so much more than just your bank account,” says Nav.it’s founder and CEO Erin Papworth. “In the health and wellness world, people have figured out that if you want to be a high-performance athlete, it’s not just about all the training you do. It also has to do with your sleep, nutrition, mindset and the stress levels that affect your emotions.”
Momentum Habit Tracker is another useful tool that lets users take control over everyday habits, though it’s not exclusively focused on financial well-being.
In addition to encouraging healthy habits exercising or staying hydrated, this app can prompt people to take responsibility for their money choices.
Users can set concrete goals— adding a small amount to a savings account each day—and set weekly targets and chart their progress.
For those going through financial hardship, the idea of “long-term financial wellbeing” can seem tone deaf, if not laughable. Empower is a useful tool for people in this cohort.
Its mobile banking app helps users survive short-term difficulties while working toward long-term goals.
The platform offers cash advances of up to $250, and its AI-fueled smart notifications are designed to help you make better money choices in the moment.
Fintech for Being Intentional About Investments
Intentional investing goes hand in hand with the explosive growth of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing—a growing phenomenon that the Harvard Business Review suggests is becoming mainstream. There are now slews of services helping investors of every experience level cut through the noise and stay informed about ESG trends.
UnifyImpact, for example, recently launched a web-based application that makes sustainable investing news and strategies more accessible. The tool maps hundreds of millions of ESG-related data points into categories climate action, human rights and public health to help members align their investments with their values.
Sustainable and ESG investing, predicted to be a growing trend throughout 2021, is closely tied to mindfulness. It encourages big-picture thinking and accountability, both for individual investors and corporations. It also allows Millennials and other younger investors to take a more active—versus passive—role in their future, both financial and otherwise.
“People, the planet and the world economy are experiencing crises in new ways,” says Caitlin Kass, a public relations representative for UnifyImpact. “For those looking to help but who aren’t sure how, sustainable investing can be an actionable option.”
In the “InvestTech” world more generally, a number of platforms Stash focus on helping beginners get their feet wet. Personal Capital is another user-friendly service that connects novice or veteran investors with financial advisors and retirement-planning resources.
Fintech for Making and Meeting Financial Goals
One major impediment to achieving financial milestones is the ability to establish and build credit—and no amount of mantra-recitation will fix a low credit score.
While intentional spending, saving and investing are great in theory, “mindful finance” platforms can have an accessibility problem.
These services sometimes ignore the fact that not everyone has a foundation upon which to build mindful habits.
Perch Credit is designed to help people build that foundation. The app links to your bank account to identify nontraditional credit-building opportunities, such as on-time rent payments or even payment history for subscription services Hulu, Spotify and Netflix.
Users verify the data streams, and the app automatically reports relevant data to the major credit bureaus.
Some users have seen their credit scores jump more than 100 points within mere months of downloading the app.
By allowing users to build credit by paying for everyday expenses, Perch encourages more mindful choices around making on-time payments—and evens the playing field at the same time.
Whether you experienced a change in employment status, the December holiday season hit your bank account a little too hard or the ongoing pandemic social distancing has stretched you to your limit, now is the perfect time to revisit your relationship with money. If you’re seeking to take more control over your financial future, mindfulness just may help put you back in the driver’s seat.