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4 Money Tools You Should Try Today

October 19, 2015

Here at SMD, we’re huge fans of great financial software. There are a few apps in particular that have pushed our money management to new levels of efficiency. Here are a few of our favorites.

Personal Capital (Free)

Personal Capital is absolutely amazing. If you’re willing to link up your online financial accounts to their (very secure) software, you’ll be greeted with one of the best net worth trackers around. They analyze your spending and provide you with a detailed breakdown of exactly what’s coming in and going out. Not only that, but if you link up your investment accounts (Betterment, E-Trade, etc.), they’ll wrap up your overall portfolio performance into a handy You Index that displays your combined performance for each day.

Personal Capital You Index

We’ve used Personal Capital for over six months now, and the information its provided about our overall financial picture has been invaluable. For some, Personal Capital is even powerful enough to be a fully featured budget/net worth/investment solution. If you’re serious about your finances, there’s simply no reason not to start using it today.

Betterment (Free*)

We’ve talked about Betterment before, but it bears repeating – we love Betterment. It makes investing simple, no matter what level of experience you have with investing in the market. They set up a pre-determined portfolio made up primarily of low-cost index funds, which is a great investment strategy. While you can’t pick and choose the exact funds you’d like to invest in, you’re able to choose your stock/bond allocation based on your risk preferences. Stocks typically involve higher risk with higher earning potential over time, while bonds offer lower risk with potentially lower earning potential over time. We go with a 90/10 stock/bond split in our allocation. It’s risky, but we have lots of time on our side.

Betterment allocation

We’ve used Betterment for around 4 months, and it’s been a great experience thus far. The market has been down lately, so we haven’t seen much in the way of gains, but Betterment makes it easy to make quick investments when market prices are cheap. It’s easily one of the best ways to start investing in the market today, no experience required. Simply open an account and make a deposit. Betterment takes care of the rest.

*It’s free to open a Betterment account. From there, you get 30 days of no-fees on your investments. A $0 balance incurs no fees, so you don’t have to start investing right away. After that, they use a tiered fee structure based on your investment amount. Their highest fee is 0.35% each quarter, which is far lower than most investment advisors charge. The typical advisor will charge you around 1%, which will actually eat away quite a lot of your investment earnings over the long term.

YNAB (You Need a Budget) (34 day free trial)

Oh, YNAB. It had a dramatic impact on our finances. I had used a spreadsheet for budgeting for a little over a year before finally making the switch.

What makes YNAB special is the fact that it makes the budgeting process largely manual. While that flies in the face of our predominantly automated culture, it brings out a level of awareness and control in your budget that simply can’t be gained from automated budgeting software. It builds better money habits. It’ll also teach you how effective it can be to track every penny of your budget. Those pennies add up, and YNAB gives you the control to move money around (without ever making you feel guilty) and make better decisions over the long haul. It helped us crush our debt, and it helps us save and invest more effectively by showing us our money leaks.

After the 34 day trial, YNAB typically will cost you a one-time purchase price of $60. If you click the YNAB link above, you’ll get it for 10% off.

Credit Karma (Free)

Credit Karma allows you to track your credit for free. It’ll provide you with your credit score, along with a breakdown of your credit history. It’s extremely handy, and is wrapped up in a pretty friendly interface. If you can deal with being shown offers and ads while you use the site, it’s well worth giving it a try. We check Credit Karma monthly to stay on top of our credit history and watch for any red flags that may appear.

What are some money tools that you can’t do without?

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