This news has been received from: CNBC

All trademarks, copyrights, videos, photos and logos are owned by respective news sources. News stories, videos and live streams are from trusted sources.

Getty Images

It's a new year, and for many, that means tackling financial resolutions head on.

Luckily, there are a wealth of free or low-cost tools at the disposal of anyone with a smartphone, including Robinhood, Stash, Mint and more for budgeting, saving, investing or even a combination of financial goals.

"Financial technologies are here to make your life easier and do a lot of the heavy lifting," said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. But, if you aren't sure what you need help with, it will be difficult to find and effectively use any financial application, he said.

Here's what to consider before you hit download.

Establish what you're hoping to accomplish

Before signing up for any financial application and handing over your banking information, personal finance experts recommend being crystal-clear on your goals, or what you're hoping to accomplish by using this tool — do you need help saving, or are you looking to start investing?

"You have to know why you want to use the app," said Cathy Curtis, CFP, founder and owner of Curtis Financial Planning in Oakland, California, and a member of the CNBC Advisor Council. That will help you assess if different products will be useful to you, especially important if you're going to pay for one, she said.

You should also decide if you're going to search for a free service, or if you're willing to pay a fee, which will generally give you access to more bells and whistles.

Read customer reviews

Once you're clear on your goals, do some research about each product, including the product's reputation, the company behind it, its leadership and other backing.

"There's so many new tools out there, I think it makes sense to do a little research and maybe talk to some people who've used it in the past," said Ben Carlson, director of institutional asset management at Ritholtz Wealth Management. 

That includes reading articles about each company and its products, as well as customer reviews.

More from Invest in You:
Mother's budget game plan: freeze non-essential spending for January
Here's how to make that financial New Year's resolution a reality
Can't afford an estate plan? What you can do without spending a fortune

Check security and insurance

A big thing to consider before downloading an app or giving it any of your personal financial information is the security of the product.

First and foremost, see if apps use two-factor authentication and have other security practices in place to guard against breaches, said Trina Patel, financial advice manager at Albert, a mobile banking, savings and investing app.

Next, she said to check what kind of insurance the financial institutions that own the apps have in place. If you're looking for a banking-related app, make sure that the financial institution that owns it is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Being FDIC-insured means that up to $250,000 of your deposited money is protected in the event of a bank failure.

VIDEO2:5502:55How to stick to your New Year's resolutionsInvest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.

It's important to determine that the company itself is covered by the FDIC, not just the account it offers.

Take Beam Financial, for example. The company, which offers a mobile savings app and touts itself as the first high-interest bank account for millennials, had many customers who struggled to withdraw their money. Even though deposited funds were protected by FDIC insurance through a network of U.S. banks, the company itself was not insured by the FDIC.

If you're going to use an investing app, check if the company that owns it has insurance through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, or SIPC, a nonprofit membership corporation. Having SIPC insurance protects you up to $500,000 or $250,000 in cash if the brokerage firm fails. Keep in mind the value of any securities themselves are not insured, meaning that if you lose money on a bad investment, you're not covered.

Experts also pointed out that security, while a concern, generally isn't a reason to forgo any online financial products.

"I don't feel that nervous about giving my financial information as long as I understand what the company does," said Carlson.

Consider customer service and education

Another thing to consider or look for in your research is what kind of customer service or education each platform offers — if you have a question or a problem, will you be able to call a person for help, or is there another process in place?

"So many things are just automated, there's not as much real people support," said Patel. "Checking in to see what kind of support they offer and what kind of information they provide is very helpful."

Last year had no shortage of trading volatility, and that led to some issues with online trading platforms such as Robinhood that had trouble servicing all their customers on days with some of the biggest market activity.

"How many times did you see that someone's call center was inundated, or a platform went down?" said Boneparth, who is also a member of CNBC's Advisor Council. "That's really bad."

VIDEO3:2503:25Five easy money moves you should make to start the new year off rightInvest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.

In addition, if you're looking to save or invest and don't have a lot of previous financial knowledge, it's worth checking to see what the app offers in terms of education before getting started. While technology has greatly lowered the barriers of entry to investing, it can also lead to people making costly mistakes if they don't know what they're doing.

Even if you aren't looking to trade or invest, you should see what budgeting or saving applications offer in terms of customer support. If you need a bit of hand holding or would like the option to speak with a financial professional, you'd want to consider that in your decision of what product to use as it may also cost more for those options.

"Speaking from experience at Albert, we do have a free app option which anyone can download and use, but the additional charge that you pay for is to get access to on-demand financial advisors," she said, adding that technical support is available for all customers.

Technology has helped many manage their money or invest it

Even though there are some things to look out for before you download and use a budgeting, saving or investing app, experts said that it's overall a good thing that such products exist.

For example, apps such as Robinhood have made it much easier for people to invest. In the past, you'd have to work with a brokerage firm and go into an office to sign paperwork to establish an investing account, a process that's now much faster online, said Carlson.

He added that the ability to automate savings or payments has been positive for many people.

"If you can use those technology tools to your advantage and automate as much as you can to save yourself some time and make it more convenient and avoid some headaches, I think that's certainly a win for consumers," he said.

In addition, while consumers should definitely do their due diligence, most apps are safe to use and can be a great help in managing finances.

"It's definitely a good time for people to start taking inventory and see what kind of technology can I use to help me manage my money," said Patel from Albert. "There's lots of great apps out there that help you stay on track."

SIGN UP: Money 101 is an 8-week learning course to financial freedom, delivered weekly to your inbox.

CHECK OUT: How a 28-year-old managed to retire early and earn $16,000 a month in passive income via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

Related Tags
  • Millennials
  • Douglas A. Boneparth
  • Cathy Curtis
  • Personal finance
  • Investment strategy

News Source: CNBC

Tags: millennials personal finance investment strategy financial information to consider before insurance through personal finance customer service technology insured you need help the financial for people said carlson an investing their money for example even though in the past a member re going in the past customer in terms to see what in addition the product

De Blasio, council aim to kick restaurants while their down

Next News:

COVID vaccine scams use fake appointments, shot promises to steal money, personal info

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert as COVID-19 vaccine scams become more common as distribution ramps up.

The BB said victims have given up personal information and lost money as they try to get vaccinated.

SEE ALSO | COVID-19 herd immunity explained

Thieves are phishing for information by phone call, text and email, luring victims with stories about getting the COVID vaccine.

"They're actually hitting hard now. The scammers, not only in Chicago or Illinois, all across the country as well; because everybody's scared or fearful the emotions are running high," said Chicago Area Better Business Bureau President Steve Bernas.

RELATED: Biden administration to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply amid shortages

Bernas said that reports are coming in from people who have fallen victim to vaccine scams, some losing money and giving up their Medicare, bank and Social Security numbers.

"You've got to be very careful and you don't have to give out the information that's specific information, or to get the vaccine. But the scammer is trying to tell you that you need to," Bernas advised.

Don't click on suspicious links and beware of social media messages from people you think are your friends; scammers can hijack their accounts. Never give personal info to any provider you don't know or trust. If you get an email or text about signing up for a vaccine, contact your medical provider, government agency or health department directly instead for information vaccinations.
"We're getting reports from the East Coast where they actually said they would come to your house by paying $150 to give you the vaccine, and obviously that didn't show up after taking the person's money as well so they're just promising anything," said Bernas. "It's all too good to be true, and at times like this please take a pause; keep both feet on the ground, as you're reviewing this manner, and make sure that you check it out."

RELATED: Illinois COVID vaccine rollout frustrates residents in Chicago, suburbs; appointments, doses, data hard to find

Also beware of bogus offers asking you to pay for a spot in a vaccine line.

Experts say you should never pay upfront for a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control said vaccine doses purchased with tax dollars are given at no cost. In some cases, there could be an administrative fee which is covered by insurance. You can't be denied a vaccine if you can't afford the administrative fee.

Other News

  • SoCal Strong: Kurb n go pickup and delivery app offers lifeline to local restaurants struggling during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Mets sign solid backup plan after losing out on Brad Hand
  • 5 at 5: Your Daily Digest for Real Estate Investing, 1/27/21
  • 'The air could get let out of the balloon very quickly.' What experts say you should know about investing in GameStop
  • Teen Mom Cheyenne Floyd’s fans spot MTV cameraman has her daughter Ryder’s hand tattooed in honor of her nonprofit
  • A Talk With Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
  • China Caused The Coronavirus Pandemic, And Companies Are Investing In China At Record Levels
  • The best free at-home workouts of 2021
  • Vince McMahon should hand WWE over to son-in-law Triple H as promotion ‘would change for the better’, says WCW legend
  • Hundreds of Americans poisoned by hand sanitizer this month, including many kids
  • FDA places import alert on hand sanitizers from Mexico after discovering 'dangerous levels' of toxic ingredients
  • Martin Odegaard shirt number CONFIRMED as Arsenal seal loan transfer for Real Madrid ace and hand him Ozil’s old No11
  • FDA places all alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico on import alert
  • FDA issues alert on hand sanitizer products from Mexico
  • TikTok is laying off employees in India as the country doubles down on its ban
  • I Create Smiles: Amesbury Womans Gift Personalization Business Thriving In Pandemic
  • TikTok cuts jobs in India, not clear if it can make a comeback after prolonged ban
  • Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic
  • Gesturing with your hands can make your words more memorable, new research suggests