This morning my sister and I were discussing budgets and what life factors make them so difficult to stick to. This article is really helpful, and the timing is ideal! I just forwarded her the link. Thank you!
Managing your finances, keeping your expenses in order, and planning (and sticking to!) a budget can be tough, especially when things get busy. So we’ve rounded up seven of our favorite personal finance sites that do everything from tracking your spending to helping you get out of debt to managing your bills for you (yes, please). Best of all, they’re all free. Read on for the best online tools to help you up your financial savvy, meet your goals, and save you some time, too.
This all-in-one financial site—with a mission of empowering women to take control of their finances—takes the cake as the best site to help us “get informed, get organized, and get support.” Our favorite feature: its articles, courses, tools, and experts are targeted specifically to where you’re at in life. Recent grads can take a personal finance bootcamp and build a budget, financially savvy women can get expert tips on taxes and investments (there’s a small charge for this feature), and the money-troubled can learn how to get out of debt. And everyone can get fun-to-read articles on current financial events, tips for frugal living, and advice on the best accounts and credit cards.
There are tons of budgeting tools out there, but no free options are as comprehensive and user-friendly as Mint. You can build a budget with dozens of categories, then sync your bank accounts so that your spending in each chosen category is tracked automatically. You’ll also get email alerts when you’ve gone over (yes, I get “shopping” and “groceries” alerts every single month). You can link your loan, credit card, and investment accounts to the site to get a real-time view of your cash flow, savings, and debt, plus you can track progress towards financial goals—whether that’s paying off student loan debt or saving up for your trip to Thailand. And you can even get info even on the go: Mint is also available as an app on Android and iPhone.
3. The Birdy
If you don’t want to use a budgeting site that’s linked to your financial accounts, try The Birdy. The super-simple tool will email you every day asking what you bought, and all you have to do is reply with a description of your purchases and tags ($55 #clothing #work, $3.50 #coffee) to record it in your account. Then, log on any time to track your weekly and monthly expenses and see charts of your spending habits and trends.
If most financial news and magazines make your eyes glaze over, head to DailyWorth. This site’s daily emails present down-to-earth financial articles and advice that help women budget, earn, save, invest, and spend smartly—everything from “How to Earn More in your Bank Account” to “Shop—But Don’t Spend Big Bucks This Fall.” Want more than just the basics? Since up for the twice-weekly “Asset Class” e-newsletter for tips on investment, products, retirement, and more.
Two things at the top of my list of most annoying things in life: receiving (nothing but) a huge stack of bills in my mailbox, and remembering my hundred or so online passwords. The solution to both: Manilla. The site automatically retrieves, sorts, organizes, and files all of your bills and account documents for you. You’ll get reminders when your bills are due, see all of your statements, credit cards, and loyalty programs in one place, and you’ll never have worry about your check getting lost in the mail again. It’s also available on Android and iPhone.
6. Nerd Wallet
Need a new credit card, but not sure where to start? I understand—it’s totally overwhelming. Enter NerdWallet. Whether it’s airline miles, low rates, cash back, or low interest on your balance transfer you want, NerdWallet will search literally thousands of cards to find the best one for you. You can narrow cards based on how much you spend, the annual fee you’re willing to fork out, and your credit score. And besides a list of cards, the site’s experts weigh in on which programs and rewards are actually worth it.
Once you’ve found your perfect credit card, why stop there? Bill Shrink will help find the best (read: cheapest) offering for you on everything else—gas stations, savings accounts, wireless service, and cable. Just plug in some details about your usage, and the site will search for other services or providers that could save you money. For example, it finds that eight out of 10 people are overpaying for their cell phone, and I learned that there was gas for $.20 cheaper just half a mile away!