Money management is not commonly taught in school, so consumers are typically dependent on their parents or on their own hit-or-miss process to learn about best practices for personal finance. Once you've made the choice to seriously manage your money, you may be toying with the idea of hiring a professional financial advisor. Before you start spending, you may want to check out some of the many free money management tools available online. Generally, these sites are user-friendly and offer a secure place for you to track spending, create a budget and use calculators to help you analyze financial decisions and to plan your future. Here are some of the most-recommended free money management tools.
Mint.com: Mint, one of the most popular personal finance sites available, is designed to track cash flow and budgeting. The site will help you analyze your finances and offer suggestions for places you can save on common expenses. On Mint you can find what you need to know about credit card rates or research a bank account that pays more interest. You can set savings goals and the site even offers free apps so you can track your spending from your Smartphone.
Yodlee.com: Yodlee offers a wide range of money management services online. You can track all of your accounts and investments. You can also create a budget, track spending and track real estate value. Plus, you can transfer funds and pay bills through the site.
SEE: Top 8 Ways To Stick To Your Budget
SmartyPig.com: The SmartyPig site is primarily meant for saving money. You can set up a variety of savings accounts, establish your savings goals and track your progress on the site. It's particularly worthwhile if you intend to purchase an item with your savings, because you redeem your savings for gift cards and discounts.
MyMoneyCircles.com: At this website, you can participate for free in a "boot camp" matched to your financial goals. You'll spend 20 to 30 minutes each day completing online "success guides" for things like finding ways to save, managing credit cards and debt, protecting your assets, and saving more. The financial experts associated with the site function like "personal trainers for your money," but for free.
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Moneyrates.com: One of the smartest ways to reach financial health is to maximize the interest you earn on your savings and investments while minimizing the interest you pay on your debt. At this website, you can quickly compare interest rates on savings accounts, mortgages, CDs, credit cards and money market accounts. You can also find tools and information to sort through your choices.
AnnualCreditReport.com: Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report every year. Reviewing your credit report can be extremely valuable financially because you'll see what potential lenders see. You can dispute and fix errors on your credit report, and get information on ways to improve your credit profile. Improving your credit profile could be the difference between an approval or denial of new credit card.
Credit.com: Even if you have reviewed your credit report and checked your credit score, you can use this site to help you understand the factors that influence your score and how you can improve it.
MoneyStrands.com: This money management tool can be automatically set to gather all your financial information in one place. You can sign up for personalized advice, too.
BudgetPulse.com: This site offers a simple budget system that allows you to monitor spending and savings. An added feature is the ability to track finances in several currencies, which makes it especially appealing for travelers or people living in a foreign country.
PearBudget.com: This tool is simply a spreadsheet that's already been created to make it easier to plug in your budget numbers and track your spending.
Automatic Savings: Pretty much every financial institution, and even Paypal, offers a free mechanism to set aside money in a savings account. You can save a percentage of each paycheck to build your emergency fund seamlessly.
SEE: How to Save Money
The Bottom Line: Since all of these tools are free, you can try out any one of them to see if it fits your needs. It may be possible to get a hold of your finances without ever having to pay a professional for help.