Even with the best of intentions, most of us aren’t as diligent about staying on top of our finances as we should be. Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to budget, track and plan for the future with personal financial management tools.
What is it?
A personal financial management tool, or PFM, is an application that enables people to manage and track their money. By bringing all your accounts and transactions together, you can build a budget, set savings goals, and follow your progress using real data.
In 2012, Local Government Federal Credit Union launched its own PFM called Compass. “There are a couple of reasons why LGFCU decided to offer Compass to our members,” said Maurice Smith, President of LGFCU. “Branches and ATMs are not always convenient for all members. Compass levels the playing field by giving members access to financial guidance.”
What does it cost?
Compass is a free service, provided to LGFCU members. “Money is a common concern for us all. How well you manage your money often determines your quality of life,” Smith continued. “We believe that Compass can help members understand where their money goes and how to plan for the future.”
How does it work?
Compass gathers transaction information from all of your credit union, banking, investment and retirement accounts—even those with other financial institutions, as long as you have online access. After the initial setup is complete, Compass will automatically update your transaction and balance information each time you sign on. This can be a tremendous time-saver, because rather than visiting multiple sites and juggling passwords and account numbers, all of your financial information is in one secure place. It even automatically categorizes your transactions into your budget.
Compass is a complement to, not a replacement of Member Connect, the Credit Union’s online banking system. Money transfers, bill pay, loan applications and other banking transactions are still only available through Member Connect. Compass, on the other hand, works as an online financial planner, helping you analyze your spending and set goals while guiding you toward a stronger financial future.
Is it hard to use?
Compass was designed with members in mind. You don’t need to be a computer wizard or an accountant. From the guided enrollment to the online support and how-to information, a lot of thought went into making it easy for members to take full advantage of everything Compass has to offer. Even if you are unable to complete the initial set-up in one sitting, Compass will pick up right where you left off the next time you sign on.
How can it help me?
Managing your money effectively requires you to track a lot of information from a variety of sources. If you don’t know how much money you have or how much you’re spending, it’s tough to make responsible choices. A personal financial management tool like Compass does a lot of the legwork for you.
“If I have to write it down on paper and do the math in my head, it’s not going to happen,” said Crystal, a member who lives in Wendell. “The fact that Compass brings all my transaction information together in one place makes my life so much easier.”
Is there a mobile version?
A Compass app is available for Apple and Android devices, making it convenient to access your financial information wherever you are. “Recently, I was about to make a big purchase. I wasn’t sure which account to use, so I pulled up Compass on my phone to check my account balances. I’m glad I did, because if I had chosen wrong, I would have overdrawn an account,” said Tim, a member in Johnston County.
Having a complete overview of his financial transactions also allowed Tim to spot trends in his spending habits he might not have otherwise noticed. “I was very surprised at how much money we were spending every month going out to eat,” he said. “But once Compass made us aware of it, we made changes to our behavior. It’s ended up saving us about $75 a month.”
Is it safe?
“Protecting members’ data is of paramount importance to us,” said Sherrie Krizic, Senior Vice President, Financial Planning. “We and our partners use the latest technology to ensure your Compass account is safe and secure. All data within Compass is transmitted over SSL with a VeriSign Class 3 Extended Validation SSL Certificate.”
There are so many things in our busy lives that require our attention. Using a personal financial management tool like Compass makes it easier to manage your finances. The easier it is, the more diligent you’ll be about sticking to your financial plan. And that will have a lasting effect on both your present and your future.
“Between work and home, it seems like I’m always scrambling to keep up with everything. Since I signed up for Compass, it feels like I am just a little more in control. And that’s a big relief,” said Amy, a member from Raleigh.
For more information about Compass or to sign up, visit www.lgfcu.org/compass.