It had been one of those harrying weeks at work – one where you feel like you have 10,000 things on your to-do list, 2 minutes to complete them all, and your stress levels are that of Russell Wilson right before he threw that pick and blew the Super Bowl this year. I was in the middle of trying to reconcile our monthly budget when I heard my phone vibrate and looked down to see a notification from Prism, a bill management app I use, alerting me that my electric bill was due tomorrow and I had yet to pay. With everything going on at work, it had completely slipped my frazzled mind that the due date was fast approaching, and as I took 30 seconds out of my day to pay the bill, I thanked my lucky stars that I had a reminder set up to avoid those annoying late fees.
So what is this wondrous Prism app, you ask? In short, Prism (which is priced very reasonably at FREE) manages your bills, allowing you to review and pay them all in one easy step. It’s simple to set up and ultimately gives you a one-stop shop when it comes to viewing and/or paying any bills that may be sitting out there under your umbrella, including your student loans, utilities, heck even your Macy’s card.
I’ve been using Prism for about 5-6 months now, and I think it’s one of the best money management apps out there. Why? Well, mainly because it helps me to avoid late fees. Those fees are like a thorn in my side – not only are you basically throwing money out the window, but forget to pay your bills a couple of times and your credit is damaged. Talk about a double whammy. Prism takes the stress out of the entire process by notifying you when a bill is available and before the due date so that you don’t miss a payment. Plus, you can pay it anywhere at anytime – in between episodes of House of Cards during your Netflix marathon, while out shopping with a friend, or before your Saturday morning yoga class.
Have I tapped your curiosity? Here’s a little more detail on how it all works:
1) Adding Your Billers
First things first: you will need to take 2 minutes and add any accounts you have – your utilities, credit card, student loans…basically anything out there you are obligated to pay.
You can add a biller one of two ways: by searching their database or manually adding one yourself. Currently, their database has nearly 5,500 billers, with 20,000 more on the way. I had no issues finding mine (I was actually surprised at how simple it was), but if you can’t find one of yours for some reason, you can reach out to the Prism team and they will work on it with you. One thing to note: you must have an online account with your biller in order for the app to pull in your information each month. If not, it has no way to access your information.
In addition, you can also set up a manual biller, which is beneficial if you either can’t find your biller within their system or don’t have an online account for your biller. I use this for my mortgage payment, mainly because I don’t have an online account set up for it and I can’t pay for it electronically (yes, I have to send in a check or call them each month to pay – it’s like I live in the 1990s, here). Even though I can’t pay through the app for this bill, I still receive reminders of when the due date is approaching, which as I’ve stated before, is extremely beneficial.
2) Setting up your Payment Account
Adding your billers will ensure that you receive notifications regarding their availability and due dates; however, if you also want the functionality of paying your bills through the app, you will have to set up your payment account. You can either select a bank account or credit card to link to the app, and when you pay your bill, you will be able to choose which payment account you’ve previously set up to pay from.
One of my initial concerns with linking my bank account was the security of my personal information, especially in the light of all of the recent online hacks (I’m talking to you Target and Anthem); however, I spoke with Rachel Santee, the Director of Customer Engagement at Prism, and she assured me that security is a top priority. In fact, in regards to security measures, she stated the following in regards to keeping the customer safe:
“We do not store any sensitive information, such as passwords or account numbers, on customers’ devices. Furthermore, all information that travels between the customer and Prism is encrypted with bank-level security, and the data store itself resides in Microsoft’s highly secure cloud service.”
In other words, your information is as safe as it could possibly be. Still have concerns? Feel free to visit their website at https://www.prismmoney.com/about/security or contact them with any questions.
3) Add your Paydays
One of Prism’s newest features is the ability to add your paydays into the mix, giving you the capability to see how much of your income is taken up by each bill. I haven’t had the opportunity to utilize this yet as this upgrade just rolled out this week, but I think having a visual of how much certain bills cut out of your income is great information to have. Who knows? Maybe you’ll realize you don’t need to spend half of your income each month on a 3-bedroom apartment for you and your cat.
BEST PART ABOUT THIS APP: the notifications. This is what helps you avoid those credit-damaging late fees and keeps you in your biller’s good graces. You will receive a notification when your bill becomes available, the day before your bill is due (if it’s not already paid), and the due date of your bill (again, if it’s not paid). I don’t know about you, but basically having a virtual personal assistant to track this for me is worth its weight in gold. Especially when it comes free.
Using the App
Once you have everything set up, managing your bills becomes an easy process. When you open the app, you will automatically access your home page, which includes any upcoming or paid bills you have for the month, including the amount and when it is either due or when it was paid.
From this page, you can click on any bill to access its detail and ultimately pay the bill itself. Or, if you paid it outside of the app itself, you can click on the “cog wheel” icon in the top right corner and select “Mark as Paid.” This way, you won’t receive further notifications of the upcoming due date since you’ve already taken care of it.
I cannot express how easy and beneficial this app is in my day-to-day life. I consider myself extremely organized, and yet there are times I’ve almost missed my payment date because my mind was occupied with more pressing matters (like where to get drinks after work with my girlfriends or deciding what color to stain my headboard). This app serves as my safety net and allows me to easily take care of those payments at any point in my day with a few taps of my finger. I highly suggest you give it a try – it’s free to use and you have nothing to lose besides those late fees. And a little stress.
Have any questions? Feel free to comment below or visit www.prismmoney.com for more information.