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.
(Personal Capital is now Empower)
1. Empower: Without question, this tool is THE way to track your investments. You can link all of your 401k, IRA, and taxable accounts. Empower 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. Check It Out: Empower Review
2. Morningstar: This free resource is hands down the best place to research mutual funds and ETFs. Its 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.
3. 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.
4. Vanguard: For low-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.
Listen to the podcast where I describe how these tools have helped me manage our finances:
Budgeting and Money Management
5. 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 also provide invaluable tips on how to budget effectively.
6. 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.
7. American Express National Bank: American Express Personal Savings consistently pays one of the highest interest rates on FDIC-insured savings accounts
8. 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.
9. Citi Double Cash: I use a credit card for every purchase I can for several reasons. First, it’s the safest way to spend money. Second, it makes tracking my spending very easy. I just download the transactions into YNAB. And third, I earn cashback on every single purchase. The Citi Double Cash is my primary card because I earn 1% on every purchase + 1% when I pay for those purchases.
10. Empower: An app that links all your financial accounts on one platform. From there you can set weekly and monthly budget amounts and track your spending so you can keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Plus, you can set up Automatic Savings to set aside excess cash into savings, allowing you to accumulate money passively. You can also sign up for an Empower Card which is interest bearing.
Another perk of the Empower Card is that you can earn cashback of up to 10%* at qualifying merchants, make fee-free withdrawals at more than 37,000 ATMs or access your paycheck up to two days early.*
The best feature though is the interest-free Cash Advances up to $250.^ Empower automatically takes repayment for the Cash Advance when you get your next deposit and doesn’t charge any late fees.
^ Eligibility requirements apply.
For more information, read our full Empower Review.
Learn More: How to Spend the Same But Get More
11. 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 FICO’s score monitoring service, you get access to your FICO score for a small fee.
You can also get access to your FICO score for free by owning a Barclaycard. Barclaycard is one of the few credit card issuers that provides its card members with free access to their FICO scores.
12. 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 in your report.
13. Credit Karma: For monitoring your score and getting an idea of where you stand, this is a great option and it’s free. No “free” trial. No credit card is required. Just free! You can read more about it in our Credit Karma Review.
14. 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. Two of my favorites are Chase Slate (0% for 15 months; no transfer fee if made in the first 60 days) and Citi Simplicity Card (0% intro APR for 21 months; 3% or $5 transfer fee applies). You can find other current options in our list of the best offers by clicking here.
15. Debt Reduction Calculator: This is one of my favorite calculators when it comes to getting out of debt. You can enter multiple debts with different rates and terms. It allows you to set up extra payments and customize the order of the debts you’ll pay off first. The result is the length of time it will take you to get out of debt and how much it will cost.
Bonus Resource: SoFi offers low-rate personal loans ideal for refinancing high-rate debt.
Resource: How to Use the Avalanche Method to Get Out of Debt
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator: Simply put, it is the best most comprehensive mortgage calculator you’ll find anywhere. It’s also really easy to use.
19. Ultimate Retirement Calculator The free tool can show you in seconds your retirement picture and how to improve it.
20. Retirement Nest Egg Calculator: From Vanguard, this calculator lets you easily run simulations to determine if your retirement savings will last during your retirement.
21. The Flexible Retirement Plan: Arguably the most comprehensive free retirement calculator available, the Flexible Retirement Plan is the place to start if you want a DIY plan.
Related: How to Know If You’re Saving Enough for Retirement?
Bonus Tool: Haven Life Insurance Agency–They offer free online quotes for term life insurance. It’s the only type of life insurance the vast majority of us need. And Haven Life can often issue policies without the need for a medical exam.
Bonus Calculator: Should you pay off the debt with the smallest balance first, or should you tackle the one with the highest interest rate? Take the guesswork out of this question with the free debt snowball calculator.
If there are other tools that you find helpful, share them in the comments below.
Empower Personal Wealth, LLC (“EPW”) compensates Webpals Systems S. C LTD for new leads. Webpals Systems S. C LTD is not an investment client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation or Empower Advisory Group, LLC