Smartphones are having a big effect on the bank accounts of many Americans, new research has found. In fact, 53 percent of Americans say they use online banking and investment applications regularly, and 70 percent of those users say these tools make them more diligent about tracking finances.
Overall, 46 percent of respondents say that apps have helped them save both in the short term and long term. While many people use apps to save money, 36 percent also say they use mobile apps to pay their bills, and 26 percent say they use apps to check balances. Just 3 percent say they use apps to manage investments or as budgeting tools. App users over the age of 65 are the most likely to pay their bills online.
An additional 31 percent of people say they use apps for a number of purposes. However, 57 percent of those respondents say they use applications mainly to help save.
"It's great to see a majority of Americans are more aware of their finances thanks to online banking and investment applications," said Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial, which conducted the research.
"Still, people spend more time online planning their vacations than planning for retirement. Online budgeting tools make it especially easy to always see where you stand, which can help turn your awareness into a benefit on the bottom line."
The researchers also found that women are more likely than men to use finance applications. However, men are more likely than women to say the tools help them save.
Additionally, the researchers found a significant difference in how different age groups use smartphone apps. In particular, app users between the ages of 18 and 29 were most likely to use apps for several functions, while users between the ages of 30 and 39 were the most likely to report using apps frequently. Older users say that apps have made them more diligent about their finances.
However, all age groups say that apps are helpful in their saving habits.
"Just as everyone's financial goals are unique, so is how they manage their money," said Buhrmann. "Whether you use online tools or prefer to balance a checkbook, the key to achieving financial security is to use the tools and knowledge at your disposal to achieve your financial goals."
The research, which was based on the responses of 3,000 Americans, also found that people making more than $200,000 a year were the most likely to use and benefit from investment apps.