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Website and app increase makes it easier to manage finances

You know your smart phone is, well, pretty smart. It can give you directions to that business address you're looking for, and it's neat the way the voice activation can change the song you're listening to or dial up your spouse for you.

But is your phone smart enough to track your investments or manage your savings accounts?

Well, if it isn't yet it soon will be.

Banking on the go

With the advent of tablet computers and the growing popularity of smart phones, there has been a sharp increase in websites and smart phone applications--apps--that can help you do everything from give you your checking account balance to tracking stock prices under different scenarios. Several new sites and apps are in development and are poised to hit the market soon.

One of the better known websites is PerkStreet Financial Inc., which offers free online checking--provided you make at least one transaction a month--and gives you fee online bill payment. You also get free access to more than 37,000 ATMs.

You might remember PerkStreet from a promotion it sponsored earlier this year with Lending Club. The two teamed up for the Shred Your Credit Card contest, which offered rewards of $1,000 to people who creatively destroyed their credit card as a symbolic gesture of their intention to shrug off credit card debt. PerkStreet used the contest to promote its rewards debit card.

That debit card offers 2 percent cash back on purchases--provided you keep at least $5,000 in your account--and up to 5 percent back when you buy things from featured categories.

Managing investments

PerkStreet Financial is based in Boston, and a couple of its neighbors in Beantown--Blueleaf Inc. and ImpuseSave--are poised to roll out new products that might interest investors.

According to the Boston Globe, BlueLeaf has a new website that will allow you to analyze your portfolio across multiple accounts. You can, for instance, see at once how much money your different accounts have invested in health care stocks. It can also help you gauge your progress toward savings goals, such as saving for college. Developers say eventually the site will let you view options for mutual funds that are similar to yours but might have fewer expenses.

A couple of other stock market tracking websites include Trefis.com and A2ZEconomy.com. Trefis gives you interactive charts reflecting the projections of the site's researchers. You can even manipulate the charts to run your own scenarios, and then you can share your theories with other investors on the site.

A2ZEconomy, meanwhile, brings 1,500 economic indicators to your iPhone, iPad or Android-platform phone so that you can be the first one at your conference table to find out that housing starts are up this quarter or that interest rates have jumped.

The A2Z Leading Index is a composite index of six leading indicators of the U.S. economy, from the spread of interest rates to unemployment insurance claims. You can get a few indicators for free but if you want them all, there is an annual $15 fee.

Special, targeted savings accounts

Impulsave, when it's released some time later in 2011, will allow you to instantly move money into some targeted savings accounts, such as one set up for a wedding or a special trip. According to the company, the idea is to allow you to be as impulsive about saving as you can be about spending, and they also try to make it fun. There's no indication yet what kind of savings account rate it will offer.

ImpulseSave sounds very similar to another online savings account, SmartyPig, that's been around awhile. SmartyPig lets you establish an online savings account for specific things and let you share your progress with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Your friends and family can even contribute to your online savings account. It's free, it's FDIC insured and it earns interest.

These are just a few of many applications and websites available, but with post-Recession American showing a renewed interest in saving and whittling down credit card debt, look for more apps and websites designed to help you track your money and investments.

Disclaimer:This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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