Whoever coined the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" probably died broke and hungry. Anyone who practices medicine understands that knowledge is power. The same principle applies to your personal finance. For many, the biggest roadblock to change is ignorance. How are you suppose to cut back on your expenses if you never knew you were spending $150 a month on Starbucks?! That means becoming organized and finding out what you have and where they are. Today I'd like to share a few FREE financial tools I've found helpful in my daily life:
NOTE: All of these services are online and there are risks of identity theft and hacking and other scary things you may have heard about in the news (think SONY). But for me the convenience and benefits far outweigh the risks.
Overall Financial Organizer
- Mint.com - My overall favorite personal finance tool, Mint.com allows you to connect all your accounts (bank, credit card, loans, mortgages, investments, etc.) and view all your financial information in a simple user-friendly interface. There are additional tools to help you organize your money such as a budget maker, bill tracker, spending trend tracker and many others.
- CreditKarma.com - CreditKarma.com has some overlapping features with Mint.com but the website is more focused on credit. You can check your credit report and credit scores from 2 out the 3 major reporting bureaus for free (TransUnion and Equifax). The website offers free credit monitoring service and will notify you for any new changes to your credit profile.
- Readyforzero.com - You're starting to see a trend here, Readyforzero.com allows you to connect all your accounts just like Mint.com and CreditKarma.com, but this time with a focus on eliminating debt. The site collects all the information regarding your debt and allow you to customize a payment plan to your liking. For those who have a Chase Credit Card with Blueprint, it's a very similar concept but will work across all of your accounts.
- National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) - NSLDS is the ultimate aggregator of your federal loans. It will keep a tally of all your federally funded student loans and grants. Note it will not display your private student loans.
- Sigfig.com - For those with investments, there are quite a few portfolio tracker sites available - from Personal Capital to Morningstar to Google Finance and more. I settled on Sigfig.com in the end because of its automatic linking with brokerage accounts and singular focus on investments. The website also recently underwent a major overhaul which, in my opinion, makes it even more user friendly.
- Cloud Storage - The best way to keep track of tax-related documents is to put it in a digital locker. Be it Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Box.com or some other service you use, having copies of your W-2s and 1099s in one place will make tax-prep time that much easier. Heck, with the convenience of the smartphone camera and the automatic backup feature of most cloud storage services, it's malpractice not to take advantage.
References: See clickable links above.