7 top apps for budgeting, managing and growing your money

Understanding and managing your money has come a long way from the days where all you needed to know was how to balance your checkbook and put away some money in a few CDs. Today’s technology has put every aspect of personal finance at your fingertips, however, with apps for everything from budgeting to investing to financial growth.

There are a lot of apps available with a variety of functions, so if you’re new to this market we’ve put together a list of top-rated apps you can check out to get started. One of the best things all of these apps share is accessibility. You have the ability to manage your finances wherever you go – on the computer, on your phone, on vacation or at home.

Kristy Cooper7 top apps for budgeting, managing and growing your money
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Nielsen’s report: Too many choices can lead to streaming paralysis

We’ve all had that feeling. You turn on your streaming service, a colorful menu with an ocean of options pops up. You pause and stare at the screen. So many great choices. New shows to try out. Old favorites to revisit. Movies, sitcoms, documentaries, concerts, the list goes on and on … and on. Suddenly it’s 20 minutes later and no decisions have been made. It’s called streaming paralysis. And it’s affecting so many Americans that news of this issue is popping up everywhere from broadcast news shows to Nielsen reports.

According to Nielsen’s latest Total Audience Report, adults in the United States spend 11 hours and 27 minutes per day connected to media, and more than half of that usage is with digital media. And even though seven in 10 homes now have streaming service, which would indicate a general sense of comfort and proficiency with using the technology, nearly 21% of people indicated frustration with not being able to decide on something to watch and eventually walking away.

Kristy CooperNielsen’s report: Too many choices can lead to streaming paralysis
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Redefining privacy in these modern times

What defines privacy is constantly evolving in these modern times. Smart phones, live streaming video chats, family safety tracking apps and smart home devices have made life much easier. But the flip side of these devices mean that GPS location tracking, microphones and cameras accessible via most any wireless devices have made “living off the grid” an impossibility. Reasonable expectations of privacy have become the subject of debates ranging from our nation’s highest courtrooms to the family kitchen table.

As you read this article, for instance, there are currently 2,000 satellites orbiting in the skies above us. By 2025 as many as 1,100 satellites could be launching each year, including SpaceX’s Starlink plans to add 12,000 small satellites by 2027. These satellites are being created and launched to provide everything from weather monitoring to global GPS positioning to boosting internet accessibility and taking pictures of every angle of the Earth.

Kristy CooperRedefining privacy in these modern times
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How to avoid and block robocalls and fake neighbor calling

Robocalls. Fake neighbor spoofing. Cell phone spam. Whatever you call them, these types of illegal calls are getting worse, and definitely getting more annoying. In fact, according to YouMail’s Robocall Index, last month Americans received 4.4 billion robocalls during just that month. That breaks down to 145 million per day, or 6 million per hour, or 1,700 calls per second. In addition to the inconvenience, robocalls also pose a danger to those who fall prey to fraudulent scams that attempt to invade people’s privacy and often their bank accounts.

While registering on the “Do Not Call Registry” was an initial solution that helped a little, lately it doesn’t seem to matter how careful you are, they still get through. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that the U.S. government is taking action.

Kristy CooperHow to avoid and block robocalls and fake neighbor calling
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U.S. consumers use record amount of wireless data in 2018

Wireless data allows us to access the power of the internet from practically anywhere we want to, and a recent study shows that Americans are putting that easy access to use as wireless data use more than doubled in the U.S. in 2018 as compared to 2017 and continues to grow at an impressive rate. In fact, mobile data use was up more than 82 percent growth last year – more data than was used in the first six and a half years of this decade all together.

This growth in voice calls, texts, and data is driven in part by the increasing number of wireless devices in the U.S. In 2018, Americans connected another 21.5 million mobile devices for a total of 421.7 million devices. But it’s not just about smartphones anymore as people are using data-only wireless devices that connect on-the-go such as watches, cars, health and fitness monitors, and household items with use growing 10 percent in 2018 to reach 139.4 million devices.

Kristy CooperU.S. consumers use record amount of wireless data in 2018
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Simple ways to add smart technology to your home

If you like the idea of adding smart technology to your home, but are worried about complications or expense, you’re in luck. All you need is a smart phone and high-speed internet and you can easily add “smart technology” such as thermostats, smoke detectors, garage door controls, home security cameras, doorbells and locks to your home. The good news is that a lot of this kind of tech can be installed quickly and easily by the homeowner and without spending a lot of money.

Ready to get started? Here are a few ideas for smart home-tech upgrades that are easy to DIY.

Kristy CooperSimple ways to add smart technology to your home
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How AT&T plans to use private customer info you may not be aware of

If you use AT&T, they are probably aware that you are reading this article right now, where you are reading it, what you click on before and after you read it, and storing all of that information to use in targeted marketing and advertising later on. It’s not just AT&T, either, but we’re sharing this info with you after a recent profile of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in Fortune magazine in which he openly laid out the mega-company’s plan to profile and target customers for advertising.

AT&T has transformed itself into a media colossus by buying Time Warner, adding to its incredible array of content from holdings including HBO, CNN, TNT, and others in combination with a huge distribution network across mobile broadband, DirecTV, and U-verse. Stephenson shared his vision of permanent, across-the-board surveillance of all those customers for extremely targeted – and personal – advertising.

Kristy CooperHow AT&T plans to use private customer info you may not be aware of
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Why keeping up with technology is good for business

Keeping up to date with technology is important for every kind of business – even ones that have nothing to do with technology. Technology is inescapable part of life and business. Farmers carry smart phones, vineyards utilize drones, and brick-and-mortar businesses have sophisticated security systems. Crafters use the online shopping carts to sell their products, and cupcake makers use tablets to accept payments on the road. These are just a few examples of how everyone needs access and familiarity with technology to help their business thrive.

The risks of ignoring or trying to do without technology can harm a business in many ways, but the rewards can mean getting ahead of your competition and thriving in the long run. Here’s a few reasons why.

Kristy CooperWhy keeping up with technology is good for business
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Election security concerns for 2020

From checking in at your local polling venue on a computer or tablet, to registering to vote by smartphone, or using an electronic voting machine to cast a ballot, computers have become an important part of voting in America. As election time nears, however, concern about the security of those computers is high, and everyone from politicians to engineers are addressing ways to keep the process safe from hacking or harm.

Even though touch screen computers have been in use for more than a decade, the last four years have brought so much news of foreign and domestic computer hacking, disruptive social engineering, and potential election rigging that many people are asking to return to systems with paper receipts.

Kristy CooperElection security concerns for 2020
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How the streaming wars will affect your viewing habits

A war started last year that may have escaped your notice. The players: Netflix, Hulu, Disney, Prime, Apple and more. The issue: A full-scale battle for your attention, in what’s being called the “streaming wars.” Options are increasing, pricing and platforms are changing, and some of your favorite shows are bouncing from one service to another. Here’s a quick overview of what’s going on and how it can affect you.

Costly, contentious, and with all the drama of the latest Kardashian scandal, the streaming wars are what you see happening as various studios, media giants and tech companies are trying to position themselves to become long-term essential streaming platforms. Low-cost subscriptions, mega-budget original programing, and non-stop jockeying for who gets licensing rights for popular shows like The Office, Seinfeld, and Friends are just a few of the moves that are being used to try to stay on top. Too many options can equal viewer fatigue, and streaming companies know that they need to rise above the crowd when households decide they want to only deal with a few at a time.

Kristy CooperHow the streaming wars will affect your viewing habits
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