Managing your finances can be a lot of work. Between all of your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, 401(k)s, student loans, mortgages, bills, and everything else you’re dealing with, keeping everything organized and avoiding expensive mistakes is tough.
Luckily we live in an age where online tools and apps can help us save time and money dealing with our personal finances. Read on for some amazing tools to simplify and organize your financial life.
Manage Your Day to Day Finances
Between your checking account and all of your debt accounts, you have a lot to keep straight. Plus, if you have as many accounts as me, it can take hours each week to login to each account and make sure everything is working as you expect.
There are many tools and apps built just for this purpose. Here are a couple of favorites:
- Mint.com – Mint.com is one of the original online budgeting applications. Connect your bank accounts to get daily updates on your balances, transactions, and watch your spending on debit and credit cards automatically populate your budget for simple, easy tracking. Mint.com is free to use.
- You Need a Budget – YNAB has its own budgeting philosophies built around giving every dollar a job. If you earn a dollar, it should be assigned to a budget category like groceries or rent, or a savings category like an emergency fund or Roth IRA. YNAB takes a less automated approach than Mint. YNAB is free for 34 days, then $5 per month or $50 per year.
- Quicken – If you love the idea of automatically tracking your financial accounts but don’t trust web based security, Quicken is the best option for you. Quicken is the leading desktop based budgeting app, and it connects to all of your accounts for automatic updates and categorization.
Manage Your Investments
Your investments need different attention than your other accounts. Investments should be setup to work for you over time and do not require daily check-ins or tinkering. There are special tools to help you there.
One such tool is Personal Capital. Personal Capital offers tools to analyze your investments and investment fees, and offers alternative suggestions to align your portfolio to your own investment goals. Using the tools at Personal Capital, I was able to save over $300 per year in 401(k) and mutual fund fees. That will save me tens of thousands of dollars by the time I reach retirement. Personal Capital also offers checking, savings, credit card, and loan account tracking in addition to investments.
If you want extra help with your investments, new advisor services are designed to help you manage your money with as little work as possible. These services also charge far lower fees than traditional financial advisors. Personal Capital offers this type of service if you want to work with a human advisor. If you are okay with computer algorithms managing your investments, Betterment and Wealthfront are two excellent options.
Automate to Save Time and Money
Now that you have your finances organized and are on track to get out of debt. Using free online tools, you can further automate your finances to save even more time and money.
Most banks offer free online bill pay. Using this tool, you can turn some bills on autopay while paying others manually through one central dashboard. This is much easier than logging into each site to pay. or sending a paper check in the mail like it’s 1986.
Does your employer offer direct deposit? If you are not taking advantage, sign up right away. It is much easier to have your money just show up in the bank on payday rather than getting a check and physically depositing it.
Did you know that most large employers also allow you to split your direct deposit? Put the majority in your checking, but automate your investments and savings by sending a portion of your paycheck to a savings or investment account. Depositing $200 into an IRA or Roth IRA automatically each paycheck will get you most of the way to maxing out that retirement account each year, which can lead to big tax savings.
There are so many tools and options to automate your finances today. Don’t let your finances hold you back from living the life you want, use your finances to follow your dreams. It all starts with a good budget, automating where you can, and putting your finances on autopilot. You’ll be amazed how easy and fun it can be to keep your personal finances on a plan. If you follow through and take the time to set everything up right, you’ll be in great shape for many years to come.
This article is published in conjunction with InvestmentZen. To learn more about investing, credit cards, and managing your money, check out InvestmentZen today!