So you want to get out of debt, save more money, improve your credit score and increase your investing activity? If you are not using the right financial tool to keep your finances organized, reaching your financial goals will be far more difficult.
I have seen it many times before. People often know they need help with their finances but they can not even say for sure how much money they have or how much they owe. And there in lies the first problem. How will you know what financial help you need if your money is scattered? You could follow bad advice just because you do not have a clear understanding of your financial picture.
Before you go off and make rash decisions on your finances, take a moment to organize them. There are many financial tools that may work wonders for you, but below are the financial tools that I use. They help me stay on track in the areas of banking, investing, monitoring my spending habits and budgeting.
Financial Tool One – Mint.com
Mint.com is a financial tool that allows you to fully track all of your debts and assets, monitor your spending habits, budget and even check your credit score via their website and app. It allows you to track your bill payments, though it will not pay your bills. You can also monitor your investments and track how they are performing.
How it Mint.com Works
Once you join the site, you have the option of linking your various financial accounts onto their website so that you can see all of your financial data in one location. Some people are hesitant to do this, but the app only gets reporting information. It cannot initiate payments or withdrawals from any of your accounts. Plus, they are connected to literally thousands of financial institutions – like banks, investing firms and credit card companies, which shows credibility. Many have special access codes just for Mint.com for an added layer of security.
You may think, why would I need to connect all of my accounts in one place? Can’t I just log on to these various companies websites and review my balances? True, you can. But trust me when I say, using Mint.com has been the quickest and easiest way for me to manage my finances at a glance. Particularly when I need to see it at a high level.
What can you do on Mint.com
- Monitoring historical spending
- Net worth trends
- Track your investments
- Bill payment reminders
Financial Tool Two – Capital One 360
I have been using Capital One 360 for years, since they were known as ING Direct. When I decided to open an account with them, they were offering a whopping 5% interest on their savings and checking account! That now is unheard of, but they still offer higher rates. Because Capital One 360 is an internet based bank, they are able to offer higher interest rates than brick and mortar banks can due to lower overhead costs.
I know this is a bank website, so you may not consider it a traditional financial tool.
So why do I really love Capital One 360?
BECAUSE SINKING FUNDS!! Check out my video – What is a Sinking Fund and Why You NEED One!
A sinking fund is a savings account you create for one specific long term fund. You can create a sinking fund for a new car, a vacation, your wedding, Christmas. You name it!
Capital One 360 allows you to open multiple savings accounts for FREE, plus interest and give them all cool names.
So to keep my money organized, and clearly earmarked for specific purposes, I have my accounts set up by sinking fund so that I can always have money set aside for specific purposes. I have auto-transfers set up on pay day to be funneled into my various accounts so they are always funded without me having to do a thing. This is a great way to meet your long term financial goals and keep your money organized.
*You do not need to use Capital One 360, but do consider a no fee bank like this one to add to your financial tool box.
What can you do on CapitalOne360.com
- Open multiple savings accounts, or sinking funds
- Open multiple checking accounts – at least two
- Invest – purchase individual stocks, mutual funds, IRA’s, EFTs (Sharebuilder.com is built into their site)
Financial Tool Three – Betterment.com
I have to admit that I am a Betterment.com junky. I have multiple videos on the topic because it has been so good to me. This financial tool will keep your money growing and growing!
- What’s in My Investment Portfolio
- Betterment.com 1.5 Year Update – $2200 in GAINS!
- Betterment.com Six Month Update
- $65,000 Debt Gone/Betterment.com
Betterment.com is a professional investment management service, using robo-advising. So yes, a robot is managing your money, which makes it very cost effective to use. But the reason why I love Betterment.com as a financial tool is because it is SO SUPER SIMPLE to use! You set the slider between Stocks and Bonds to set your asset mix and tell them your financial goals. The system does the rest!
I have tried my hand at investing in the stock market by purchasing individual stocks and I have this terrible habit of buying high and selling low. I just can not seem to shack it. In order to be truly effective at investing on your own, you have to read, research and try not to panic if things start to head south. Who has time for that? If your issue is financial organization, then you definitely do not.
One caveat. I use Betterment to supplement my investing. They do have an IRA feature but I already have a Roth IRA with Vanguard that I am sticking with. I also contribute to my company held 401k.
What can you do on Betterment.com
- Open an IRA
- Save for a downpayment on a house
- Invest in ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds)
- Auto invest – set it and forget it!
Financial Tool Four – Excel
Excel is by far my favorite financial tool because it is the most robust. I can say, it is not everyone. Most people either know the very basics of excel OR can do complex conditional formatting, vlookups and pivot tables. As much as l love Mint.com, having my money in various sinking funds some times trips up the budgeting feature. So I like to create simple budgets and cash flow templates in excel. I also like to use it do forecasting on how long it will take me to reduce a debt or how much my investments will grow by over a period of time.
You can find all of my excel budget, cash flow, net worth and investment templates in the budget tool section of this site.
- How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck!! Cash Flow Tutorial +Freebie
- 4 Tips to Creating YOUR Optimal Budget
- How Not Knowing Your Net Worth Will Keep You Broke
- When Will I be a Millionaire/Free Investment Calculator
What can you do on Excel (not a comprehensive or exhaustive list)
- Historical Analysis