Are Apps Helping or Hurting Your Finances?

Smartphones make it easier than ever to shop or interact with friends, but there’s also a downside.

Istanbul, Turkey - July 06, 2012: Apple Iphone 4S screen with a male finger starting Twitter app for social messaging while we see other social media apps like Facebook, Skype, MSN, Linkedin, Viber and Foursquare.
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5. Bad: They open us up to security risks.

If your phone automatically connects to a public Wi-Fi signal, a thief could steal data you are transmitting. Similarly, purchasing from a browser or app is so easy to do that people sometimes make the mistake of sending their credit card data over unsecured connections or illegitimate websites. The fact that so much personal and financial data is stored on our phones also can cause major problems if we lose our phone or it gets stolen. Using password protection can help add an extra layer of security.

6. Bad: They waste our time.

Do we really need to obsessively check how many steps we take each day, via the Fitbit app? Or count how many calories we've consumed, care of one of the many dieting apps? Or check every Twitter and Facebook update while we're waiting in line at the bank or on the way home? Apps can take up a lot of time, and the degree to which they are improving our lives is debatable.

[Read: Need Money Tips? There's a Startup for That.]

Still, Kirschner insists the impact is net positive. Take friendships, for example. He notes that the Apigee survey found about 40 percent of people across all age groups use apps to stay in touch with friends, via social apps such as Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. Sure, some of us might not need to check status updates as often as we do, but those apps help build our sense of social connection. Plus, how else would you find out when your friends get engaged or have babies?