Now that I have a Treo smartphone, I’ve been exploring ways to take advantage of having the internet in my pocket. Since I have a strong interest in personal finance, that seemed liked a logical starting point.
What follows is a list of ways you can use an internet-enabled phone to help you manage your money when you’re out and about. To be fair, some of these things can be done with a regular phone, or a simple PDA. That being said, a smartphone lets you combine all of this functionality into one handy little package.
» 1. Online Banking - An increasing number of banks are offering mobile-friendly web sites that allow you to check balances, transfer funds, and pay bills on your phone. For example, Bank of America (our brick and mortar bank) offers mobile banking at http://www.bofa.mobi/ (they also have a demo).
The biggest surprise here is that online-only banks aren’t really taking the lead on this. In fact, of the three banks where we have online savings accounts (ING Direct, HSBC Direct, and Emigrant Direct), ING is the only one that offers a mobile-optimized interface. While ING’s interest rate has been slipping, this is a pretty compelling feature.
» 2. PayPay Mobile - Did you know that PayPal lets you send money on the go? Simply send a text message PayPal (729725) saying something like this:
send 10 to 2025551414
send 10 to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also call 1-800-4PAYPAL to send money, which you can do even if your phone isn’t capable of texting. This is a pretty cool application of mobile technology, and I think this sort of thing has the potential to revolutionize the way people handle cash transactions.
Think about it… The next time you meet a stranger in a parking lot to buy something off craigslist, there’s no need to carry a wad of cash in your pocket. Rather, you can check out the item in person, then whip out your phone and text the money to their account.
» 3. Check Prices - Have you ever been out shopping and wondered if a certain price is actually a good deal? Well, wonder no more. Simply hop on over to Google Product Search for Mobile and check out what it would cost you online. Alternatively, you can shoot a text message to Google (466453) saying something like:
price nikon d80
ipod nano price
» 4. Track Your Finances - Software packages such as Pocket Quicken or MS Money for Windows Pocket PCs allow you to carry your entire financial history around in your pocket. Also not that online financial data aggregator Yodlee offers a mobile solution.
» 5. Manage Your Passwords - Last but not least, recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of usernames and passwords that we have to manage. And what good are uber-convenient mobile financial services if you can’t remember the access information? Fortunately, there are a number of password-managers out there that allow you to encrypt your private data on your phone or PDA. The best of these apps allow you to synchronize your data with your computer, such that your login information is always at your fingertips.
Being a Mac user, I’ve used Web Confidential for years, and have also dabbled with their Palm version (which works great, by the way). More recently, I’ve been playing around with SplashID which likewise offers computer and handheld versions that can be kept in sync, and also offers a more flexible interface with fully customizable categories and fields.
So there you go… Five tips to get you started managing your money on the go.
If you have any of your own, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.