Online banking and shopping are part of everyone's lives now. Most consumers are completely comfortable entering their credit card information on any site. The vast majority of bank customers don't even receive paper statements anymore. But as with everything else online, there are some security concerns. Here are a few simple ways you can keep your financial information secure while you're shopping and banking online.


1. Use strong passwords

Especially for your bank account, use a very strong password. Having a complicated password will make it harder for anyone to hack or guess your login. You'll want it to be at least 10 characters long, have numbers, upper and lowercase letters and a few special symbols. You can make a pretty strong password that you can still easily remember.

Step your security up by signing up for password manager, like LastPass. These are secure, encrypted services that will generate strong passwords for all of your accounts. And by installing the browser extension, you can sign in with a click of a button.

2. Change your passwords regularly

Having a strong password is great, but it's still good practice to change your password at least once every year. If you haven't changed your password since you set up your account, you should probably go update it right now. As evidenced by Yahoo releasing information about a hack of accounts that took place years ago, changing your password regularly keeps your account secure. Those Yahoo users who changed their passwords after that hack took place in 2013 stopped hackers from maintaining access.

You should be changing your banking password regularly as well as any other accounts that are storing your financial information. This includes any shopping websites or payment services.

3. Avoid entering your credit card information

If you're completing a one-time purchase on a website you don't regularly use, try to avoid entering your credit card information. Most sites will support payment through PayPal, Visa Checkout or, if you have a Mac, Apple Pay. These are secure services that can complete your transaction without having to enter any of your sensitive information.

These services also make paying for items much faster. No need to fill out boxes of information. Just type in your password and you're good to go. Who said you couldn't have security and convenience at the same time?

4. Enroll in transaction alerts

Most banks will let you set up transaction alerts on any or all of your cards. Whenever a purchase is made with your card, you can receive an email, text or push notification telling you about it. This is a great feature to use if you let your family members use your card regularly.

All of these notifications might sound annoying, but it is the fastest way to verify that there aren't any fraudulent purchases. If someone manages to get a hold if your card information and uses it, you'll receive an alert. If you don't recognize the transaction, you'll be able to quickly flag it and inform your bank. Transaction alerts are by far the easiest way to keep tabs on your spending and security.

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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.