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I am always interested in learning about the tools people like to use to manage their finances, if any at all. It would drive me bonkers if there was no organization within my finances, because I am essentially the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of my household. I need to know the big picture and the day-to-day numbers in order to successfully manage my money.
Within this article, I have highlighted the tools I use most frequently, and essentially providing information on why they have become mainstays.
Oftentimes, I won’t use a certain tool for its full function. For example, with budgeting, I have an alternate method and process that works for me. Alternatively, I have tools for redundant purposes, which you may find relatable! Let’s get started.
Mint by Intuit
Mint is the app I open every, single day. It is my go-to in terms of reviewing my balances at a glance. I only use Mint for the overview portion to get a full-picture of all my accounts related to checking, savings, and investments. It does have a multitude of other uses. It would be a great option if you would like to manage your income and expenses, track and pay bills, along with being able to review your full financial picture.
Summary of why I use Mint: checking, savings, investments overview of balances
Personal Capital is my go-to for only my investment accounts. This includes 401k, IRA’s, taxable accounts – anything pertaining to early and full age retirement. I do not use it to track anything in my cash equivalent accounts, such as checking and regular savings. I check it a few times a week, and the redundancy here is that it gives me the same balance information as Mint does at the investments level (but that’s to be expected).
Though I only use the free service to track my investments, Personal Capital does have a budgeting function that I have yet to use. If you are seeking an alternative budgeting tool, this one might fit the bill.
Personally, I like Personal Capital as another view for my investments because it has an analytical interface, and let’s face it, it’s quite appealing. I’m able to view the effect of my investments in graph form and the allocations and diversifications for my holdings. It does also track cash flow, as you can view from the visual below.
The view below is for the Retirement Planner. The tool recently rolled out in the app and you can believe I used it to measure my retirement viability. It worked wonderfully for me, feel free to try it yourself – Retirement Planner.
Summary of why I use Personal Capital: investments overview and analytics
SigFig is my resource for what they call wealth management. It reminds me of Personal Capital, but with a different interface. I use it as my third view on an investment level. It gives me performance related information with daily movers and a portfolio breakdown. I use SigFig mainly through the widget that you can add to your cell phone. When I swipe right, it provides me with my full portfolio balance and the daily change for the DOW, S&P, and NAS, as well as the daily movers. I normally check throughout the day for information as to if the market is up or down for the day.
Summary of why I use SigFig: investments overview and analytics
Credit Karma & Credit Sesame
I use both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame in order to view my credit score and report at any time – it’s FREE! I normally check my credit score once a month. There is a set date/time that the score resets, and I get email alerts, but I generally just check when I think about it. Using one of these services will be helpful to track your credit score on a regular basis and also be able to determine what may be affecting it.
Both tools provide credit monitoring and alerts, which is great if you forget to check your score every so often. They both provide data from a couple of the credit reporting agencies (ie. Transunion, Equifax or Experian), so you can readily compare your reports for each agency.
Summary of why I use Credit Karma & Credit Sesame: monitor my credit score and check for unusual activity
Excel is the only tool I use for budgeting, tracking expenses, and various other calculations and recordings. I will expound on the many reasons why in a later post, just because it’s long and somewhat convoluted – trust me. To sum up why I use Excel for all my logging needs – it’s just easier for me. Using Excel allows me to personalize how I want my budgeting and tracking to look and function. Excel is easy to use and enables you to set up rows, columns, charts, and make it applicable to your situation.
There are other spreadsheet tools out there if you are unable to get access to Excel. Some of the alternatives are Google Sheets, Numbers for Mac, Apache OpenOffice, and LibreOffice. I can’t speak to the functionality of these products because I either don’t have experience using them or the usage has been very limited.
As someone with an Accounting background, I have always been exposed to Excel in the workplace, which translates into using what works best for me.
Summary of why I use Microsoft Excel: budgeting, expense tracking, cash flow, stock, and balance tracking, analysis, and summary
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I’m curious to know – what tools do you use that I must know about?! Please comment below!
Original photo credit: Pixabay