In a real way, Personal Capital has something for everyone. That’s true whether you are a novice finding your way through the financial universe or if you have a large investment portfolio you need professionally managed.
The free financial dashboard is for anyone who wants better control over their finances. It offers some of the most innovative personal financial tools on the web. That includes their Retirement Planner, Investment Checkup, Fee Analyzer, Retirement Readiness Score, and even their Recession Simulator (to get a perspective on today’s market). All of it is available free of charge, in addition to Personal Capital’s financial aggregator and budgeting capabilities.
And if you have at least $100,000 to invest, Personal Capital Wealth Management provides hands-on investment management for an annual fee of just 0.89%. That’s well below the rate typically charged by traditional, human-guided investment managers.
Related: The Best Investment Apps
Best Personal Capital Alternatives
But what if you’ve tried Personal Capital and decided it’s not the right financial platform for you? Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives. None provide the complete package of services of Personal Capital but there are other financial platforms that specialize in either investing or budgeting with lower fees.
Let’s look at the best alternatives to Personal Capital.
Best Alternative for Comprehensive Budgeting: YNAB
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line budgeting software, YNAB may be the product for you. It provides comprehensive budgeting that puts you in control of your finances. It tracks where your money goes, organize it into categories, and helps you to direct the flow of your funds to create a more compelling financial future. It’s a budgeting software designed to break the paycheck-to-paycheck financial predicament so many people find themselves in.
YNAB works on four basic rules:
Rule One - Give Every Dollar a Job. The idea here is to prioritize each dollar in your budget. That means each dollar will be committed to a specific purpose. You’ll set aside money for basic living expenses in advance and have greater discretion over what’s left.
Rule Two - Embrace Your True Expenses. This rule addresses the often overlooked issue of large, but infrequent expenses. You know they’re out there - an annual insurance premium, a car repair, or an upcoming holiday or vacation. YNAB uses this rule to help you create a budget for those expenses. In the process, it evens out your budget, despite the ups and downs of your financial obligations.
Rule Three - Roll with the Punches. While we normally think of a budget as something like being on a strict diet, this rule holds that you should build flexibility into your finances. For example, if one expense category goes over budget in a given month, you’ll compensate by lowering another. That will keep you from breaking out of your budget at the first sign of trouble.
Rule Four - Age Your Money. This is the rule that makes YNAB unique in the budgeting universe. The basic idea is to develop your budget to the point where you are living on last month’s income this month. That will make sure you are always 30 days ahead of your expenses. Even if you don’t have an emergency fund, this rule will give you a built-in financial cushion.
Since it’s a premium budgeting software, YNAB charges a fee of $11.99 per month or $84 per year as an annual subscription. However, the service is free to use for the first 34 days. That will give you a chance to test drive the app to see if it works for you.
Related: YNAB vs. Quicken
Best Alternative for New Investors: Betterment
As a new, small or medium-sized investor primarily concerned with investment management, you may be particularly interested in Betterment. They don’t offer financial account aggregation or budgeting capabilities. But they’re one of the top-rated robo-advisors in the industry, providing low-cost, automated investment management to investors of all portfolio sizes.
You can open an account with no money and begin accumulating the funds you need to invest. Once you invest, your portfolio is allocated in a mix of six different stock allocations and eight bond allocations. Each allocation is represented by an ETF based on that asset class. With just a few hundred dollars, you can be invested in US value stocks, international developed and emerging markets stocks, high-quality US bonds, US municipal bonds, high-yield corporate bonds, and international developed and emerging market bonds. On taxable accounts, they also offer tax-loss harvesting to minimize the tax liability generated by your investing activities.
As Betterment has expanded their menu, they now offer multiple portfolio options, including Smart Beta (which seeks to outperform the general market), socially responsible investing, and a special portfolio designed to generate high-interest income. They even expanded to offer an interest-bearing cash reserve, as well as Betterment Checking, so you can bank where you invest your money.
But one of the biggest advantages with Betterment, especially for small and medium-size investors, is their low annual advisory fee. They’ll manage your portfolio whatever its size at a very low annual rate of 0.25% of your account value. That means a $10,000 account can be managed for just $25 per year, and a $100,000 portfolio for just $250 per year.
And for a slightly higher fee at 0.40%, and a minimum portfolio size of $100,000, you can sign up for Betterment Premium, and get unlimited access to certified financial planners.
Best Alternative for Small Investors: Wealthfront
Wealthfront is Betterment’s major competitor and works on a similar basis. They provide automated, online investment management at an annual fee of just 0.25% of your portfolio value. And like Betterment, Wealthfront has also expanded to offer more services, including a high-interest account and a portfolio line of credit. And on larger accounts, they also offer Smart Beta and tax-loss harvesting on taxable accounts.
Wealthfront similarly uses exchange traded funds tied to specific asset classes to make up your portfolio. They also include both US and foreign stocks, emerging markets stocks, and dividend stocks. On the bond side, they offer municipal bonds in taxable accounts, corporate bonds, US government bonds, and emerging market bonds. But one area where Wealthfront departs from Betterment is that they also offer alternative investments in their portfolio mix. That includes allocations in both real estate and natural resources.
Rather than offering access to certified financial planners, Wealthfront instead offers its Path program. This is a series of software-based financial advisories to help with financial planning. They cover retirement, saving for the down payment on a house or a college education, and other life goals. They’re part of the overall package offered by the company, so you won’t need to pay extra for them.
Wealthfront requires a minimum initial investment of $500, which is low enough for most small investors.
Best Alternative for Free Budgeting: Mint
Mint is perhaps the best-known and most popular free software in the industry. Its been around since 2006, making it one of the longest-running budgeting software packages on the market. If you’re primarily interested in budgeting, Mint is a reasonable alternative to Personal Capital.
Mint works as a financial aggregator, allowing you to link all your financial accounts on the platform. This gives you a complete picture of your financial situation on one application. Your transactions and accounts are categorized by spending category, so you’ll always know where your money is going. And Mint provides alerts about upcoming bills or a potential late payment.
Even though Mint functions primarily as an aggregator and budgeting software, they also offer some compelling additional resources. For example, they provide free credit score monitoring. You’ll be able to track your credit score using your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion. It’s not your actual FICO score, but an educational score that tracks your credit and provides much the same information as FICO. If you’re looking to monitor your credit along with managing your budget, Mint can help. They’ll even provide notifications anytime a change in your personal information occurs, including new credit inquiries.
And while Mint doesn’t offer any kind of investment management, they do provide their Investment Tracker tool. Using this tool, you can track your investment portfolio. It also helps you find hidden fees in the funds held in your portfolio. That can include investment advisory fees, brokerage fees, and 401(k) fees. The tracker allows you to compare your portfolio to common market benchmarks to see how well your portfolio is performing compared to other investors. And like everything else offered by Mint, there’s no charge for use of the tracker.
Related: 8 Alternatives to Mint.com
Personal Capital ranks as perhaps the best overall financial app available. Not only does it provide free budgeting, financial account aggregation, and financial planning tools, but it also offers a wealth management service for larger investors. That service comes with direct assistance from certified financial planners. It’s a cost-effective combination of investment management and financial planning.
But if you’re only interested in specific services, like investment management or budgeting, or if your portfolio size is insufficient to qualify for Personal Capitals Wealth Management program, you’ll want to check out one of the alternatives above.
Betterment and Wealthfront are especially attractive investment management tools for new and small investors because of the combination of no- or low-initial investments and modest investment management advisory fees. And if you’re simply interested in budgeting, you can either choose Mint, as a free budgeting software, or YNAB for a more comprehensive, goals-based budgeting system.
Personal Capital is an excellent financial platform, but you do have alternatives if you choose to go a different route.