Here are the resources I personally use to help manage my finances (contains some affiliate links).
My Favorite Budgeting Tool
Honestly, I’m not a budget tool snob. The best budgeting tool is the ONE YOU’LL ACTUALLY USE–whatever that is. I think a spreadsheet or notebook works fine. But since you asked . . . I’ve used a lot of tools–e.g. Mint, EveryDollar, and Quicken. The budgeting tool I recommend is YNAB (You Need A Budget)–affiliate link. YNAB is not free ($84/yr or $7/month) and has a learning curve (free apps: Mint and Clarity Money); however, in my experience, nothing beats YNAB’s ability to plan for future large purchases (e.g. new car, vacation, home). YNAB also has great customer service (a real human response to all your questions via email and will continue to follow-up until you’re satisfied), so you won’t be on your own. Also, if you’re trying to pay down debt, you can join one of their Facebook communities to help you stay motivated and on track.
RETIREMENT / INVESTING
Personal Capital Free financial software and tools, wealth management available at a fee. This is an affiliate link with a $50 signup bonus. If you become a wealth management client, you’ll get 3 months free.
Personal Capital is sort of the “Mint” of investing. The financial software allows you to pull in all your investment accounts from all over into one handy dashboard. Watch your financial dreams become reality as you can then chart your overall progress towards your financial goals, such as retirement.
You can use the dashboard for free without having to enroll as a client of Personal Capital’s wealth management services. Upon signup, they will definitely try to recruit you to use their services; however, if you’re not interested, answer their phone call and tell them as much so they will leave you alone. Personally, we use and appreciate their wealth management services. I’ve tried convincing my husband into trying a robo-investor, but he’s been too happy with the results of our portfolio since switching to Personal Capital. PC has been good at making strategic decisions based on our portfolio as a whole and making sure we maximize tax benefits.
Just Getting Started with Investing?
You might be better off with one of the smaller robo-investors such as Wealthfront ($500 minimum) Betterment (no minimum to start investing). Their fees are extremely low (at the time I’m writing this, 0.25%).
Rakuten – Extra Cash-Back While Shopping–
There are several companies that offer cash-back for your online shopping.
Things I love about Rakuten (formerly Ebates):
- They *AUTOMATICALLY MAIL YOU A CHECK* quarterly so it’s hassle-free. My husband and I have been using them since 2010 and have so far received $2,435.50 (for things we were buying anyway–we always get our biggest check post-Christmas).
- They *AUTOMATICALLY REMIND YOU* when you’re on a site that offers cash-back (When you install the web browser app–which you SHOULD). One-click on that reminder and you’re set.
- At check-out, they automatically apply every *COUPON CODE* available so you DON’T MISS A DEAL–it often fides a coupon I didn’t know about that saves me money.
This affiliate link *GIVES YOU AN EXTRA CASHBACK* for your first quarterly check! Enjoy!
Bankrate.com – This helps me stay on top of the current market rates for mortgages, savings, and money market accounts.
To Stay On Top of My Credit Report / Score:
Read about how to Check/Improve your Credit Score and Check your Credit Report HERE.
AnnualCreditReport.com – (Free) I have a reminder on my calendar to pull my credit reports annually. If you want to see your report more often, you could space out your three reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax evenly throughout the year. The service is free as guaranteed by the US Government. Unsurprisingly, they will try to upsell you on buying access to credit score, which is unnecessary because for that I use . . .
CreditKarma.com – (Free) I also have a reminder to check my score here once a year. They break down your score into the five categories that make up your credit score (payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries). Also, they’ll suggest a plan of attack to help you improve your score.
Maybe you’re thinking . . . Yeah, it’s all well and good to have financial goals, but how am I actually going to get around to all this? My secret to productivity came from completing the Steps to Everyday Productivity program. Being an affiliate for them has always been a goal of mine and now I am–yay!
Those are my favorite resources! I’ll update this page regularly so you can always stay up to date on my favorites tools for keeping your finances in shape. I only recommend my truly favorite products that I actually use, but FYI, some of these links are affiliate links. What does that mean? If you click on affiliate links and then purchase the product, I’ll receive some money to cover the costs of running Money Fit Moms. Thank you in advance for supporting the mission of MFM! – Lisa