Last time we covered when you should start thinking about saving for retirement, some statistics that prove starting early will pay huge dividends, and some factors to consider when making your contributions. Today we’re going to look at some financial tools to help you stay on top of your budget on a daily basis.
It IS 2013 after all, and the Internet is an amazing resource, with a multitude of financial tools that have sprung up, many of which offer a free version. Some of these tools are a great way to help keep your finances organized and guide you in making wise financial decisions. Some financial apps and resources to consider include:
- A confidential financial counseling and education program aimed at helping you develop a workable spending and savings plan, get out of debt and plan for your financial future. Counselors can help you understand and improve your credit score so that you can take control of your finances and reach your goals. Peach State has partnered with BALANCE to offer their services free of charge to our members. www.balancepro.net
- A free personal financial management service that pulls all of your financial accounts into one place. See your balances and transaction history, track investments, set budgets and have bill payment reminders sent to your phone. Mint is the most widely used budgeting tool mainly because of its ease of use and free status. You’ll have to deal with several ads, but the ads are what make it possible for them to offer the service free of charge. www.mint.com
- The most widely used, pay-based financial management tool. It’s software-based as opposed to Mint’s online format. Quicken was the first budgeting tool, and paved the way for others of its kind to follow. Inuit, the creator of Quicken, acquired Mint in 2009. Quicken ranges in price from $40-$160. quicken.intuit.com
- A multi-platform personal budgeting tool that aims to teach you how to budget with a four-rule process. It‘s similar to Mint in its functionality, but doesn’t link your bank accounts since it aims to teach, not “set it and forget it”. YNAB does come at a cost of $60 (one-time fee) for the desktop version, but offers mobile apps for Android and iPhone at no cost. Online classes are offered at no cost once you’ve made the initial $60 purchase. It’s a great product for those who have never used a budgeting tool before. www.youneedabudget.com
- An online investment advisor. Provides investment advice and management for less than the cost of a traditional financial adviser or wealth manager. Betterment is free for 30 days, then charges a management fee of 0.15%-0.35% (depending on your balance) at the end of each quarter. www.betterment.com
- An online money management and budgeting tool similar to Mint. PocketSmith differs from Mint in that it allows you to track your monthly expenses in a cash flow calendar. You can also project future earnings and expenses in the calendar. PocketSmith offers a free and premium($9.95/month) account. www.pocketsmith.com
- Provides online, personal financial management tools for paying off debt. ReadyForZero allows users to create debt repayment plans, track finances, make bill payments directly, and monitor progress of debt paid off and interest saved. You can choose between a free and premium account. The premium account allows for credit score monitoring. www.readyforzero.com
Planning for retirement should be considered continuing education for everyone. At any given time, you could experience a major life changing event that impacts your financial plans. You really need to ask yourself, has your financial planning put your family in a position of security so that you’re prepared when the unexpected occurs? Consider every tool that’s available and never stop learning how you can make your money work for you into retirement.