Online banking is just one of the many things available to consumers to assist with creating, balancing and strengthening financial plans.

It's been a tough few years with the economy in decline, unemployment rates holding steady and jobs turning scarce, but now factors are starting to turn around. The Washington Post reported the highest number of new job postings in July 2012 any other month since this time 4 years ago. Consumer confidence is on the rise, as is corporate outlook. Financially, the U.S. is getting back on its feet, but with a troubled global economy, it may be wise to keep hanging on to that budget a little longer.

Fortunately, online tools exist to help keep tabs on every penny. Online banking is just one of the many things available to consumers to assist with creating, balancing and strengthening financial plans.

The bottom line

Looking at your account with mobile banking won't help you keep money there. You have to find smart tools to manage and monitor it. Apps for your smartphone and tools on your computer can help you do that.

Things like Mint and Can I Buy? organize expenses and income, showing what amount of flex you have, according to Go Banking. These are just some of the tools available on the go that weigh your out-going versus in-going funds, set aside a portion for savings or payments and can help you spend smarter. Other financial tools like Smartypig can automatically sort some of your regular paycheck into a savings fund, but these tools can also be setup in a personal bank account or business banking account, if you speak with your bank.

Paying on time

One of the best ways to keep down expenses is to pay bills on time, as this cuts interest and makes a bigger dent in the overall balance owed. Some online tools also assist with reminders, automatic payments and lowered fees to make this process easier.

PC Magazine recommends Pageonce, though this isn't available for Android phones. PayPal is a good substitute, but Pageonce is more user-friendly and offers a slightly lower transaction fee of 30 cents per bill payment. It also has some budgeting tools, regular reminders and a handy notification system that lets you see your upcoming bill payments versus overall liquid assets. Tools like these can help manage everything in a way that can take the stress out of budget balancing. They create a singular experience in a mobile or computing device that can assist with many facets of your financial plan.

Mixing too many utilities into a single mobile app has led some to question financial security, so never be too ready to allow an application to do everything it wants without reading the fine print.

Being wary of apps

Having a utility belt of different resources to assist with budgeting and paying bills is great, but don't be too hasty to give away your information or sign up for the first thing that looks good. Sometimes these programs are built with phishing and other malicious intent, and you could be signing away your money.

Business Insider warned against willingly using too many mobile apps that request account access or seem to need too many permissions. The source pointed out that Google regularly removes malware applications from its Android store, and recommends watching for things like cheap logos, spelling errors or broken English, and applications that replace certain services on your phone.

New technology is helping to make budgeting easier every day. Take advantage of these opportunities by using online and mobile banking, as well as talking to a financial adviser about the strategies that can best assist with long-term financial goals.

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