Technology is a double-edged sword. In so many ways, it distances us from the personal relationships that should be at the center of a rewarding, worthwhile life. The other edge, however, is clearly a positive one. It offers us the ability to do important tasks quite easily, like writing a last will and testament, making a coherent plan for retirement, building a relevant personal budget, buying a house for the first time in our lives, and getting worthwhile financial counseling from the privacy of our computer screen.
The big plus of so many tech solutions is that they’re either free or cost very little. Online calculators, financial planners, legal document services, tax help, and retirement spreadsheets are just a click and a few dollars away. For instance, now you can connect with a network of tax experts online with TurboTax Live regardless of whether you live in Oakland, Chicago, or anywhere else in the United States. Not long ago, individuals had to fork over large sums of cash to get this kind of assistance. But, through the magic of the computer age, it’s now nearly free. Here are ways people are using simple apps and freeware to solve some of life’s most serious challenges.
Making a Will
You can make a will that is legally binding in less than a half-hour without help from a lawyer. There are dozens of legal self-service sites that sell low-priced will documents along with detailed instructions on how to fill them out. When you’re done, you print it up and store it away with all your other lock-box valuables. It’s an easy way to save a couple hundred dollars, but expect to pay a few bucks to use the cloud-based, will-maker software.
Planning for Retirement
Some of the best freeware on the open market is in the retirement planning category. It’s your choice to opt for simple, average, or complex utilities, but any one of them will get the job done and help you create a seamless, tailor-made retirement financial plan. Many of the apps and freeware programs are exactly the same ones used by licensed planners.
Fortunately, there are many retail and free products that help with monthly budgeting. For example, if you intend to take out an education loan, you can use a student loan calculator to estimate the monthly obligation. This simple piece of cloud-based software can show you all your options in terms of interest rates, terms, and individual payment amounts. Other apps can do the same for activities like buying a house, renting an apartment, planning for a big vacation, or leasing a vehicle. Full-scale budgeting programs, whether you use free or paid versions, can get your entire monthly and annual financial house in order. The beauty of the technology is that you can experiment with it by inputting different figures to see how a change in one category, savings, for example, affects everything else.
Some folks dislike revealing their financial details to anyone but have no problem telling a software robot all the fine points of their fiscal lives. That’s where virtual consumer counseling comes in. After you fill out a lengthy questionnaire, the program analyzes your responses and offers solid advice about how to reduce debt, increase savings, and improve your credit score.