Best personal finance apps

Online Banking Made Easy

Here's a really simple way... to have your banking handled with no muss, no fuss... on the internet.

Traditionally you have been used to doing your banking by going in to a physical brick and mortar building and taking care of whatever banking business you had to take care of.

Whether it was opening an account, checking balances, depositing a paycheck, taking money out for living expenses, applying for a loan, paying a bill, moving money around from account to another or whatever.

Of course you had to make a special point of putting it into your schedule and arranging other tasks around it to accommodate your planned trip to the bank. Well, those days are over.

With the popularity of the internet during the last 5 years banking has never been easier or more convenient than it is today.

With the internet and online banking you can access your bank 24/7. Or as close to 24/7 as can be since there is always the time when the bank's website is not accessible due to website maintenance.

And you don't even have to get dressed to do your banking. I find this benefit very useful in the cold winter months when I can just sit in the warmth of my home and do my banking activities through my computer.

Nowadays, most large national banks, regional banks and even smaller local banks and credit unions have some form of online banking for both the convenience of their customers and for their convenience as well.

By allowing you to access their bank and your banking account they don't have to pay for someone to attend to your needs and they save money. They can pass that savings on to you through higher interest rates on your money.

In fact there are virtual banks that exist today that do not have a brick and mortar existence and exist solely online. Because of the great savings that they enjoy with that arrangement they offer some of the highest banking interest rates I have seen.

Another great benefit of online banking that I have been taking advantage of is online bill paying.

In the old days when I had to pay a bill I took the bill, wrote out a check, put it in the envelope, put a stamp on the envelopeand put it in the mail, hoping that it arrived on time so I wouldn't be assessed a late fee.

Now I can just get on the internet and get on the website of the place where I am paying the bill, hit a few keys on the keyboard of my computer and the bill is paid, saving a stamp and a lot of time and worry about the reliability of snail mail.

Another great advantage of internet banking is the concept of direct deposit.

Using direct deposit your employer can now take your paycheck and automatically deposit the money in whatever banking account you designate. That way you don't have to worry about getting the money into the bank in time to pay your big bill coming up. Now having the money in the bank and the paying of the bill can be done electronically.

And now dealing with the IRS has been made somewhat easier with the arrival of internet banking.

Now you can file your return and if it turns out you owe Uncle Sam some money you can pay it electronically by submitting your banking information with your return. If the IRS owes you a refund they can send it to you using that same banking information. And, it is all done more speedily than it was in the old days using snail mail. If you are due a refund you will be very happy to get your money sooner.

As you proceed into the 21st century you can take advantage of the progress that the banking industry has experienced in the

last few years. You will find many ways to make what used to be

considered a drudge or a necessary evil into some thing that is

more pleasant and less time-consuming to deal with.

So if you haven't experienced online banking, give it a try. You'll probably like it!

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Oprah's Debt Diet What It Is and How You Can Benefit from It

In February 2006, Oprah Winfrey challenged her television viewers and all other Americans to get out of debt. If you are currently suffering from debt than you know that it is difficult to overcome. That is why Oprah and a number of financial experts developed the Oprah Debt Diet.

Oprah's Debt Diet includes a step-by-step guide on overcoming debt. It is important to note that getting out of debt will not happen over night. That is why Oprah's step-by-step guide is important because it helps debt ridden individuals change their daily habits over time. If you are currently searching for a way out of debt you are encouraged to read on and learn a few of the steps in Oprah's Debt Diet.

Step # 1 - Determine Exactly How Much Debt You Have

This first step is extremely important because it is impossible to get completely out of debt if you are unaware of all of your debt. The easiest way to determine how much debt you owe is by collecting all of your current and overdue bills or by requesting a copy of your credit report. Your credit report can easily be obtained from one of the three main credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Step #2 - Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

Like many other Americans, it is likely that you grab a soda or coffee while at work. Those items are expensive and they quickly add up. Did you know that simply by eliminating unnecessary purchases you could get out of debt a lot quicker than you may have originally thought? Tracking all of your purchases for one week is a great way to know what items you can live without purchasing.

Step #3 - Learn About the Credit Cards You Have

Many Americans are falling victim to late fees, annual fees, and high interest rates without even knowing it. The best way to prevent credit card debt is by knowing how your credit card works. It is also important to know that minimum payments may sound great, but in reality they are a financial death trap because they only keep you in debt longer. If you successfully follow step 2, you could use your extra money to make more than the minimum payments each month.

Step #4 - Learn to Cut Back on Your Spending Habits

Step 2 mentioned eliminating unnecessary purchases. Eliminating unnecessary purchases is a great way to get out of debt, but it can be difficult to do. Individuals who are unable to control their spending habits are encouraged to not carry credit or debit cards with them. If a credit card is used, it is important to make the payments on time and pay as much of it as you can. It is also important not to obtain new credit cards during this time or accept offers of increased spending limits.

Step # 5 - Develop a Monthly Spending Plan

A monthly spending plan, also commonly referred to as budget, is a great way to allocate money to necessary expenses. A monthly budget is the best because it can include holidays, birthdays, and other special events that only occur during certain months. Your budget should include all housing costs and expenses, transportation expenses, other miscellaneous expenses, and the debt that you owe.

Step #6 - Develop Ways to Increase Your Income

When developing a budget, there are many Americans who realize that they do not make enough money to pay for all of their expenses and debt. If you are one of those individuals then you may want to consider finding ways to obtain extra income. Extra income does not necessarily mean having to get a second job. It can also mean altering your lifestyle. The Debt Diet recommends going without a vehicle if possible and relocating if your current home expenses are too high.

Step #7 - Develop a Customized Plan to Get Rid of Your Debt

A customized plan can be developed simply by prioritizing your debt. This means that you will examine all of your debt and determine which debt you need to pay off first. The date of the debt, how much it is, and what can happen if you don't pay it should be examined when deciding what or who to payoff first.

Step #8 - Determine Why You Spend Money and Try to Change It

Many unnecessary purchases are made when individuals are feeling angry or depressed. It is also possible that you are an impulse buyer or that you may have a shopping addiction. Whatever the reason for your unnecessary purchases, there are ways to change it. Sometimes this process may require professional help, but other times it can simply be cured with other activities.

Oprah's Debt Diet worked for the guests on her show and there is no reason why it cannot work for you. As previously mentioned, getting out of debt is difficult and it will not happen over night. If you sway away from any of the above mentioned steps do not give up. Try as many times as it may take. Once you make the steps of the Oprah Debt Diet a part of your daily routine you will be on your way to being debt free.