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Focus on finance in 2014:

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How your smartphone can help you budget better 

Saving money is one of the most common New Year's resolutions, and the best approach to achieving this goal is to monitor your finances on a regular basis. As mobile banking and digital financial tools become even more popular, it's easier than ever to use your smartphone to stay focused on finances.

A 2013 survey by Quicken revealed that two out of three surveyed smartphone users say that being able to check their finances on the go gives them peace of mind; 23 percent said they wouldn't make a major purchase if they couldn't check finances from their phone. With one in three people losing sleep over money woes, it's not surprising that many people are looking for tools and tips to better manage their money in 2014.

As you plan your budget, keep in mind that smartphones like the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c can simplify and enhance your life by providing financial information at your fingertips whenever and wherever helping you to budget, save, track and spend smartly this year.

By using a wireless device like a smartphone or tablet, budgeting is no longer as complicated or time-consuming as manually balancing a checkbook. U.S. Cellular recommends the following strategies and tools to take advantage of modern money management.

Manage your budget: The free Mint.com app and accompanying website keep a detailed account of your finances by connecting securely to your bank and credit card accounts and tracking the money you earn and spend. Avoid the time-consuming method of checking each account separately, and view spending patterns in an easy-to-read chart to save time and money. It will also alert you to upcoming bills, fees, low account balances and unusual activity.

Utilize mobile banking: Many financial institutions offer mobile banking options, and by using an app from your bank or credit union, you can check your account balances on the go, view transaction details and make transfers. Check your statement or current balance from your phone before making a purchase to ensure you have available funds, or transfer funds for urgent needs. With access to the 4G LTE network, some apps allow you to deposit a check by uploading a photo using your phone's camera, so you'll have money without having to make a trip to the bank.

Invest intelligently: Finance apps like Yahoo! Finance provide an overview on how the market is performing each day. Users can customize the experience to view the daily market summary, track tickers of interest, add and remove stocks from watch lists and view portfolios.

Prepare for tax time: April 15 will be here before you know it. Apps like TaxCaster by TurboTax allow users to get a quick estimate of their 2013 federal tax refund on the go. The app uses the same calculator found in TurboTax and can use its estimates to recommend the best TurboTax product when it's time to file.

Track work expenses: For small businesses, expense reports can be frustrating for employees. However, apps like Expensify allow you to capture receipts, track mileage and create reports on the go. It takes the time, paper and headaches out of expense reporting and reimbursement and makes managing finances easier on the company and the employees.

There are many apps and tools that can help you avoid overspending and focus on smart budgeting in 2014. Check out these recommended apps and consider talking to your bank or financial advisor about other tools that may help.

You can also come by a free Device Workshop at U.S. Cellular to learn more about utilizing all that your smartphone has to offer to manage money and more. U.S. Cellular's next Device Workshop in Brewer is on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 9 to 10 a.m. at 403 Wilson Street or in Bangor on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 8 to 9 a.m. at 33 Mid Mall Boulevard. Device Workshops are free and open to the public.

Last modified on Sunday, 16 February 2014 18:44

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