Does money management stress you out? If so, rather than gritting your teeth from month to month, what if you could effortlessly alleviate some of that stress for good? Online banking offers a lot of benefits that can help to simplify the headaches of money.
Let’s dive right in and see how online banking can make your life easier.
Easy Account Creation
There was a time when the only way to open a bank account was in person. Nowadays, it’s possible to complete the enrollment process from start to finish without ever leaving your home.
Depending on the bank, the application forms can take less than 10 minutes to fill out. All you have to do is input a few details and send out photocopies of whatever forms of identification the bank requires. It’ll still take a few days or weeks before your account is ready, but that’s to be expected regardless.
But the best part is that once you’ve made an account, additional accounts are even easier to create since the bank already has the necessary information in its database. With multiple accounts, moving money between them is often free and without delay.
Traditional bill statements are annoying on two fronts. First, they unnecessarily clog up your physical mailbox. Second, they’re a tremendous waste of paper. Maybe you don’t care too much about that second point, but for the most part paper bills have become a messy inconvenience.
Of course switching to email statements can still result in digital clutter, but deleting an email is far easier than shredding paper. Plus, with apps like Google Inbox, it’s nice to be able to receive and read your bill reminders no matter where you go.
Worst case scenario: if you need a paper record for a particular bill, you can always print it out. There aren’t any good reasons not to switch over to electronic statements ASAP. What are you waiting for?
Automatic Bill Payments
How many bills do you pay every month? For most of us, the answer is “too many”. You’ve got rent/mortgage, utilities, car loans, various types of insurance, student loans, and all of the other subscriptions and enrollments in your life. That’s a lot of bills to juggle even if they come once per month.
Most online banks allow you to link your bills directly to your account and have them paid on time automatically. For every bill you set up, that’s one less thing you need to juggle every month. That can add up to a lot of reduced stress.
One important caveat: automatic bill payment should only be used if your bank balance is more than enough to cover all of your bills at any given time. This requires discipline with your budget. If you live paycheck to paycheck, manual bill payments are the best way to avoid accidental overdrafts.
Mobile Check Deposits
Many banks offer a feature called Mobile Check Deposits, though the precise name might differ from bank to bank. The concept is simple: instead of physically visiting your local bank branch to deposit a check, you can do it from home by uploading a photo of the check (front and back).
The only thing you need to do this is a mobile deposit app, which you should be able to find on the App Store or the Play Store. Just be careful that you download a legitimate one! You don’t want to be sending your check photos to a malicious third party. Again, make sure your bank offers this feature before you try it.
Secure Message Alerts
One of the better reasons to use online banking is that you can receive notifications in close to real-time. . These notifications can be trivial or annoying at times, but they can also save your life. For example, you can be notified when:
- transactions are completed or denied,
- a bill payment date is approaching,
- your bank balance is reaches a specified target amount,
- details of your account were changed,
- there were failed attempts to log into your account.
If anything suspicious happens on your account, it’s incredibly helpful to have an immediate alert since waiting too long can have disastrous consequences. That being said, even the trivial alerts can be useful in the right situations.
Report & Management Tools
Prior to online banking, it wasn’t exactly easy to get on-demand reports and summaries for your account activity. Depending on the bank, there might even have been a fee associated with retrieving that info. Yet, with online banking, it’s always one click away.
Some banks are better than others in this regard. Most of them will provide you with a transaction history at the very least, but the best ones have advanced features like creating categories and viewing how much you’ve spent in each category (e.g. bills, entertainment, emergency, etc.).
Desktop Software Integration
If you use Quicken (or one of several Quicken alternatives) to help manage your money, then online banking might make that area of your life even easier. As long as your bank supports your tool, you should be able to integrate your bank account seamlessly with whatever desktop software you use.
Integration can involve a direct connection between your bank account and your software, but if not, the other possibility is exporting your transaction history as a file download (typically in .CSV format) and importing it into the software like that.
On top of everything we’ve said here, there are a few more reasons to start using online banking. There’s a measurable increase in convenience, so much so that it’ll grant you some space to step back and take a deep breath with regard to your money.
A brief note: there’s a little bit of extra risk with online banking since you’re banking (no pun intended) all of your security on passwords, but as long as you practice good security habits and utilize two-factor authentication, you shouldn’t run into any issues there. And if you can’t log into your bank account, here are a few tips to help you out.
Which online banking features do you like best? Or, if you don’t use online banking, what’s keeping you from taking the dive? Share with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Online Banking Paradise Via Shutterstock, Mobile Banking Via Shutterstock, Transaction Statements Via Shutterstock, Bill Payments Via Shutterstock, Check Deposits Via Shutterstock, Account Reports Via Shutterstock, Banking Software Via Shutterstock