We all need a little help sometimes. When it comes to personal finance, sometimes a lot of help is needed. Fortunately, you don’t have to organize your personal finances alone. There are plenty of excellent online tools available to make the daunting task of managing your money more efficiently an easy task. Use these 5 tools to help manage your money more efficiently (no math or spreadsheet skills required).
- Online Banking
Using online banking to its fullest is the basic building block of getting a handle on your personal finances. Just about all banks now offer online banking, and although the tools they provide vary, the basic function is the same. Stay up to date on what you’re spending and the money you’re withdrawing so you’re not surprised when you see the balance of an ATM slip. Logging in occasionally gives you a good look at where your money is going and the money that’s coming in.
If online banking is a building block, then Mint is the finished house. With this free website and app, you can connect your bank accounts and credit cards so that all transactions are logged. You also manually input any transaction, which at first seems like a hassle but is easily done thanks to the intuitiveness of the app.
It’s so normal to ask, “Where did all that money go?” With that information plugged in, Mint shows exactly how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. You can see trends over time and view charts based on individual categories, such as travel and shopping. Budgets for each category can be manually adjusted so you’re given a little guidance on how to spend your money. An app like Mint is a simple way to see exactly how you’re doing financially.
- You Need a Budget
The You Need a Budget software isn’t free – it retails for $60 and is sometimes on sale – although it is powerful. Like Mint, it’s also a tool to log information based on your spending and earnings. While Mint is good for checking out past trends, You Need a Budget’s devoted users say that the software they use is best for future planning and forming a solid budget.
With You Need a Budget’s range of options, users are encouraged to make a budget and stick to it. If you have no experience doing this or if you just need help with discipline, then You Need a Budget is worth checking out. There’s a 34-day free trial to see if you think it’s worth the price.
- Online Bill Pay
The days of stuffing an envelope, attaching a stamp and mailing out a bill are just about over. Most bills these days can be paid online, whether it’s a credit card payment, electricity bill and, in some cases, utility payments owed to the city you live in. Paying online means the money you spend is instantly deducted from your account, so there are no surprises like there is if you forget about mailing a check.
The downside, however, is that some companies charge up to several dollars more for the convenience of paying online. If that’s the case, you might be better of paying the old-fashioned way as that fee adds up month by month.
If you’ve started working, there’s a good chance your employer has offered a 401(k) or other investment options. Investing is often put on the backburner with all the other things people need to worry about. With SigFig, it’s easy to stay a little more proactive.
The free app and website puts all your different investment accounts on one easy page to show the total gains and losses, along with real-time updates and relevant news stories. This is especially useful if you’ve worked with several employers and have your retirement money spread across several providers.
How do you track your money? Do you have any other suggestions for helpful money management tools?