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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: February 2023 | Transition

Tech Column: Tech to Manage your Money

Jeffrey M Allen and Ashley Hallene


  • Explore various tech tools that can help you manage your finances more effectively.
  • Acorns is useful for saving and investing, Portfolio Visualizer for analyzing investment portfolios, Mint for personal finance and budgeting, Prism for bill management, and for military-specific financial resources.
Tech Column: Tech to Manage your Money

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When it comes to managing your money, there is no single perfect tool. The best tools are ones that can adjust to your specific needs. For example, if you tend to spend too much then a spending tracker is useful. If you see a weakness in your money habits, then some of these tips may be useful to you.

Squirrel away a nest egg with Acorns

Saving money is a personal struggle for many of us when the temptation to spend on needs and wants arises. Acorns ( is an app and online banking tool to help you save, invest, and grow your financial confidence with its simple, user-friendly interface. One of those simple tools is the automatic save-and-invest feature. When you use Acorns for banking, this feature will allow you to round up each transaction that takes place and put that extra money into an expert-built portfolio. For example, if you spend $4.50 on a cup of coffee and you have the round up feature enabled, then Acorns will round up the transaction to an even $5.00 and automatically invest that $0.50 difference on your behalf. This will slowly and steadily build your savings and investment portfolio over time.

They have additional features like a round-up multiplier that lets you multiply the amount you rounded up to ten times and invest that amount if you want to build your investment portfolio faster. Given that they are rounding up the change, you are looking at a maximum investment of $9.90 per transaction. If you are not a frequent shopper, you can still benefit by setting up a recurring investment schedule to transfer money into your investment account on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. So, what are you investing in? Acorns will invest as little as $5 any time or on a recurring basis into a portfolio of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). According to their website, your investment is then diversified across 7,000 stocks and bonds that are automatically rebalanced when the market fluctuates.

There are fees involved in all of this. Acorns offers a Personal account, or a Family account set up. The Personal account is $3/month. For investing, this gives you access to an investment account, a retirement account. For banking, you get no overdraft fees (ever), 55,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide and globally, and the automatic round-up and invest feature. The Family plan is $5/month and offers everything in the Personal plan plus early investment accounts for kids. The fees sound small but depending on how much you invest each month it can be a pretty high percent. Let’s say you have 50 transactions a month that result in $50 in “round-ups.” That $3 fee is now a 6% loss, the $5 fee means you start off by losing 10%. You will need to invest a lot to justify the flat fee, especially when the Vanguard Index Fund is only charging 0.06%. That being said, if you are the type of person who would not have saved or invested anything anyway if it weren’t for an app like this, then the $36/year Is worth it to get started on building your portfolio.

Picture your investments with Portfolio Visualizer. 

Portfolio Visualizer ( is an online platform to analyze your investment portfolio. There is a Free, Basic ($19/month), and Pro ($39/month). The Free version offers:

  • Portfolio Backtesting
  • Monte Carlo Simulation
  • Factor Regression
  • Asset Analytics
  • Timing Models

The Basic version does all of the above and allows you to save portfolios, simulation, optimization, and timing models, and export data to Microsoft Excel. There are even more advanced features in the Pro version, including the ability to customize tax assumptions and PDF reports. Two of the tools that are most likely to be of interest to you are available in the free version, the Backtest Portfolio and the Backtest Asset Allocation. The latter allows you to look at how asset classes perform. This does not focus on specific mutual funds or specific ETFs, but rather large set classes like large cap US stocks or gold or emerging market stocks. The Backtest Portfolio feature will allow you to look at specific mutual funds and stocks, you can put your actual portfolio into this tool and it will show you how it has performed over some period of time.

Manage your portfolio in one place with Mint.

Mint, by Intuit (, is a personal finance and budgeting platform that can help you manage your money with extensive budget tools, expense and subscription trackers, financial insights, cost lowering features, and more. Mint offers three tiers to meet your needs. The Classic tier (free), the Ad-free tier ($0.99/month), and the Premium tier ($4.99/month) which is ad-free and includes bonus features like a subscription cancellation service and extra financial trend advice.

When you open the app on a smartphone, the first thing you will see is an overview of your finances. You can scroll through a series of charts and get a snapshot of your net worth, spending, cash, investments, credit cards, and loan balances across all linked accounts. You can also check out your credit score. You can see recent transactions across all linked accounts, giving you a quick and easy way to monitor all of your accounts in one place. You can quickly and easily sort through transactions, filtering them by type, or sorting them by amount or date. You can categorize transactions and create custom tags. There are features to let you create and monitor monthly budgets, gain financial insights, look over your subscriptions, and track your bills. Mint has an add-on bill negotiation service, powered by Bill Shark, that works to lower your monthly bills. Like other bill-slashing services, you do not have to pay them upfront. Instead, they take a cut of the money they saved you.

Never miss a bill with Prism.

Prism ( is a free bill management platform that does not have all the bells and whistles, but allows you to easily ensure your bills are scheduled and paid on time. Prism automatically pulls the most important bill statement information into a calendar or list for you to easily see how much is due and when. You can schedule the payment through the app, the same day or weeks in advance.

Veterans can benefit from is a military-focused website that offers a variety of resources for both current military members and veterans. There is an entire section dedicated to money and finance, with military pay charts, an updated military pay calculator, Basic Allowance for Housing calculator, and the VA Disability calculator. In addition to these useful calculators, there are numerous articles and resources to help.

It is never too late to gain control of your income, expenses, and investments. If you do not know where to start, hopefully these tools can guide you in the right direction.