How to use technology to manage your money

A mobile subscriber withdraws money from an M-Pesa shop in Nyeri on May 2, 2016. Across Africa more and more people are now spending, saving and planning for the future through banking services offered by mobile phone companies. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The beauty about the Workspace is that it is online – you can access these tools, and your information, from any device you are signed into with your Google account.
  • An advanced way to use Google Sheets is to compute the interest expense on your personal loans and mortgages, and the interest income (compound and simple interest) on your investments.
  • If you are a young hungry Kenyan techie, we need a budgeting app developed for our local market. Make it easy and fun to use, practical to the average Kenyan.

Managing your money shouldn’t be a headache in 2021. Not when the smart techies of this world have used technology to develop tools we can install and access from our cell phones, laptops and tablets.

Using technology saves you time, money (obviously), and it will free your mind of constantly having to remember to do this and that with your money. You can engage that freed-up mind space to make more money. Win- win.

Don’t waste important resources going around town queuing in banking halls, dropping cheques at insurance companies, asking to meet sales agents and printing out paper documents for your financial records for filing.

There are a myriad of tools to cut the wastefulness out of your life. Did I mention the convenience of it all? I think I did.

Consider these easy-to-use tools of technology to manage your money:

Automate your savings and investing

Set up a standing order or a direct debit instruction (DDI) to move money from your income account to your savings and investments account.

The cost of your standing order and DDI will depend on your account features.

A transfer between accounts in the same bank is usually free. A transfer between accounts of different banks may be charged a flat rate, others are free. It all depends on the features of your bank account. (This is something to keep your eyes peeled for as you shop for a bank account.)

You can set up a standing order yourself, from your banking app (another tool of technology to manage your money!)

A DDI will require that you fill in some forms in the institution where you want money moved to. Say, you set up a DDI for your insurance premiums. You will fill in a DDI form at your insurance company, they will submit this form to your bank for the DDI to be effected.

M-Pesa for your convenience

Ah, M-Pesa. Good old, M-Pesa. An export of Kenya, alongside tea and coffee. Oh, and long-distance runners.

I used to be against having bank to M-Pesa access on your phone because of the poor spending habits it enabled amongst the indiscipline folk. The ones who were impulsive with their money.

Covid-19 and the year of the pandemic changed all of that.

First, all banks stopped charging us to move money from our bank accounts to our M-Pesa account. 

Then online shopping became the new normal (ha-ha) – M-Pesa was ready at hand for online payment.

With M-Pesa you will never need to go to your banking hall or ATM to get cash. And you will find it right there in your banking app.

M-Pesa is an ingenious service, be wary not to abuse it and upset your financial planning.

Self-discipline is paramount here.

E-statements from your financial partners

Make sure that all your financial partners email you your statements every month. Starting with the bank, then other investment partners such as your Sacco, insurance company, stock broker, chama accountant, financial planner and anyone else you have entrusted with your money.

If they don't email you your statements, then make sure you can access them from your customer online profile any time you feel like it.

You ought to have a working username and password. You should also be able to reset these credentials yourself, should you ever lock yourself out of your profile – you don’t need to call their customer service to do it for you.

It will be an added bonus if your financial partners have a mobile phone app as well.

Google Sheets for budgets and stuff

Google has created a Google Workspace that has all the tools you need to get just about anything done.

The beauty about the Workspace is that it is online – you can access these tools, and your information, from any device you are signed into with your Google account.

Google Sheets is for crunching numbers. It works just like Microsoft Excel.

I don’t know about you but crunching numbers has never been a mind-numbing pursuit for me. It gives me a frisson, makes me feel like a badass girl boss.

One easy way to use Google Sheets is to prepare and update your monthly budgets. Track your income and expenditure on the go and in real time so you never have to set time aside later to update the numbers.

An advanced way to use Google Sheets is to compute the interest expense on your personal loans and mortgages, and the interest income (compound and simple interest) on your investments.

Google Keep Notes for shopping lists

When I am at the supermarket shopping for groceries or at Marikiti market shopping for fruits and vegetables, I will run into the urbanite who has their shopping list drafted on a piece of paper.

The paper is folded into a tight little roll. Like a cigarette. And they will pause every so often with their biro pen to update the list by crossing out items they’ve bought. Sometimes you will see them chew the insides of their mouth as they squint and try to make out what is written on the dog-eared corner of the paper.

Let’s not do this in 2021, dear reader.

The hassle of pen and paper, illegible handwriting, possibly folding this important sheet that you could possibly throw away, is a spit in the face to technology.

Use Keep Notes instead. It’s another free app in the Google Workspace.

Create your shopping list using Keep Notes checkboxes. You can even share it with the person who will go into the supermarket, and still update it while they shop.

As you are in the supermarket pushing your trolley, picking items off the shelves and putting them in, check the box of this item on your list. The item will be crossed out, greyed and moved down to the section of ticked items.

I have master shopping lists that I duplicate every month. I simply change the date then uncheck checked items as I go around the house poking my nose into the pantry and laundry and soap cabinets to see what we need to buy.

I have a shopping list for the supermarket, and another one for fruits and vegetables.

Since I started using Keep Notes I have never forgotten to buy anything. Never. Si you know how you get to the house and you realize you forgot to salt and the beans for supper are already stewing on the fire? Not with me. Not with Keep Notes.

Budgeting apps… for budgeting

If you go into Google Store and search for ‘budgeting apps free’, over 25 apps will pop up from the search.

The app with the most downloads and one of the highest ratings is ‘Wallet – Finance Tracker and Budget Planner’. It has a 4.7 (out of 5) rating and over 5 million downloads.

I downloaded and used Wallet for a while. I wanted to experience what the five million users worldwide were experiencing.

I am still getting the hang of it but I am not particularly thrilled about using it. It has too much going on. And it feels very American, very dollar-inclined. Never mind that money is still money from wherever you are using it.

Kenyans need their own budgeting app, something along the ingenious lines of M-Pesa.

If you are a young hungry Kenyan techie, we need a budgeting app developed for our local market. Make it easy and fun to use, practical to the average Kenyan and, most importantly, useful to us as investors.

Charge us a small fee to use it so you can keep your lights on.

Do you have questions for the writer? Email to [email protected]


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