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Different types of financial management tools include those that monitor financial status, help consumers make financial decisions, and assist them in paying their bills on time. Many of these tools are available online and as smartphone applications, often at minimal or no cost. Typical examples of financial management tools include interest calculators that help people understand the real cost of any purchase made on credit and monitoring services that can let someone know if his financial data has been compromised.
Banks and credit unions provide their customers with a variety of financial management tools. These tools include online access to account statements and the ability to pay bills directly from customer accounts. Bill payment services can be particularly helpful to bank customers who were concerned about remembering to pay bills, as these services typically allow the customer to schedule bills for automatic payment. Other tools include e-mail and text message notifications if an account balance is low or if the bank suspects the customer has been the victim of fraud.
For individuals who are considering taking out a loan to pay for a house, a car, or to meet other obligations, interest calculators can be very helpful financial management tools. These calculators are frequently available on banking and financial planning sites and allow users to calculate the interest they will pay over time as well as the amount of their monthly payments. Many of these calculators are developed to address specific types of loans, such as home equity or mortgage loans, and may even be pre-programed with current interest rates.
Budgeting is often the foundation of good financial planning. Simple budget worksheets can be excellent financial management tools, as they help consumers understand how much money they actually have and how they are spending it. Some people may choose to use online budgeting worksheets, while others may feel more comfortable with pen and paper. Online budgeting services may also allow consumers to submit their banking and credit card information so that the consumer's spending and income can be tracked. This allows the consumer to regularly evaluate his budget and whether he is capable of sticking to it.
Due to concern about identity theft and fraud, many people make use of credit monitoring services. These services notify consumers if somebody applies for credit in their name or whether there have been any changes in the information included in their credit reports. After notification, a consumer is then able to immediately contact both creditors and the credit bureaus to challenge any inaccurate information and, when appropriate, report identity thieves to the proper authorities.
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