Most of us use a lot of tools to manage our money, budget, investments, and so forth. So I thought I’d pull together a list of the tools I use nearly every day. Hopefully you’ll find some options here that will help you make the most of your money.
Budgeting & Money Management
YNAB: This software is hands down the best budgeting tool I’ve ever used. And I’ve tried all of them. The video tutorials that YNAB has produced not only show you how to use the program, but they also provide invaluable tips on how to budget effectively.
Capital One 360: This is one of two online bank accounts I use. Cap One 360 offers extremely competitive interest rates and virtually no fees. Its website is also very easy to use.
Ally Bank: Ally is my second online bank. It too offers very competitive rates on both savings accounts and CDs.
Excel: With all of the available online tools, it’s easy to forget about some of the basics. Excel is where I track our net worth, updated monthly.
Personal Capital: Without question this tool is THE way to track your investments. You can link all of your 401k, IRA, and taxable accounts. Personal Capital will track your investments in real time, offering charts and graphs on everything from performance to asset allocation. It also gives you a picture of the fees you are paying in your 401k and other retirement accounts. Oh, and it’s totally free.
Morningstar: This free resource is hands down the best place to research mutual funds and ETFs. It’s portfolio tracker (requires free membership) can slice and dice your portfolio in terms of cost, asset allocation, and a million other criteria. If you upgrade to Morningstar’s premium service, you’ll get additional analyst reports and details on your investments.
Betterment: For those looking for a low cost, low minimum, and easy investing solution, Betterment is the answer. It’s extremely easy to use, and they offer both taxable accounts and IRAs. I’ve had an account with Betterment since 2011, and contribute to it automatically every month.
Vanguard: For lost cost index funds, Vanguard is the clear winner. I’ve rolled over my old 401k accounts into Vanguard IRAs, and I have most of our taxable accounts here. It’s free to open an account and very easy to use.
Scottrade: If you are looking to trade stocks, ETF, or bonds, Scottrade overs ease of use and very low costs. I’ve had a SEP IRA at Scottrade for several years. One of the big benefits is the ability to go into a Scottrade office and actually talk to a real life human being.
All About Asset Allocation: If you are new to invest, Rick Ferri’s book on asset allocation is a must. It’s very easy to follow, and it gives you everything you need to know to be a low cost, passive, long-term investor.
Credit & Debt
myFICO: The place to go to get your official FICO score is the company that created the score in the first place, myFICO. If you sign up for a free trial of FICO’s score monitoring service, you get access to your FICO score for free.
Annual Credit Report: This is the place to go to get your free credit report. Note that you don’t get your credit score here, just your report. But it’s essential to make sure there are no errors on your report. I’ve created a video walking you through the process, which you can find by clicking here.
Credit Karma: For monitoring yor score and getting an idea of where you stand, there are two great options. And I use them both. After all, they are totally free. No “free” trial. No credit card required. Free! The first is Credit Karma.
Credit Sesame: The second is Credit Sesame. Both tools do an excellent job of telling you exactly where your credit stands, what is helping your score, and what is holding you back.
0% Credit Cards: My wife and I used 0% balance transfer cards to help us get out of debt. The no interest cards reduced our interest payments (obviously), which not only saved us money, but also got us out of debt a lot faster. You can find our current list of the best offers by clicking here.
Mortgage Rates: The last time we refinanced our mortgage, we found the best rate here. Yes, a table on my own blog, updated hourly, tracks some of the lowest rates available. You can search by state and type of mortgage.
Zillow: If you are looking to buy, or just looking to kill an hour or two, Zillow is a great option. You can easily search for available properties anywhere. Most listings have photos and loads of details about the property.
HUD Homes: Every single investment property I’ve ever purchased was a HUD home. HUD foreclosures are also a great place to find a home you plan to occupy. Start by researching on the HUD website, but make sure to use a realtor who has a lot of experience with HUD.
If there are other tools that you find helpful, share them in the comments below.