Last week we covered online deal sites and warned against overspending. But what if you need help managing your money? Can you get online assistance for that? Yes, in fact, you can. Help is popping up all over the web.
Below are a few of the best money management sites, all of which are free:
1) Mint has an established track record and is probably the most well-known site of its kind. It allows you to input all of your financial data and then compiles it into one report that can be modified by parameters of your choice. Why is this useful? If you have a checking account, a savings account, two credit cards and student loans, that’s a lot to keep track of. Mint lets you see it in many different forms (bar graph, pie chart, etc), lets you budget by telling you how much money you actually have (and how much you owe) and it can even tell you where all your money is going – in other words, is your weakness food, furniture, clothing, or make-up? It’s a great way not to lose the financial forest for the trees. It also provides applications to allow you to set budgets and make savings goals.
2) Manilla is the new game in town. It does much of what Mint does, but also helps you to pay your bills on time (with built-in reminders), as well as keep track of your customer accounts with various companies (such as frequent flier miles, or gift card values). It also sorts your email for any incoming bills, and saves and organizes them for you.
3) Credit Karma has a slightly different purpose. Once you have your money under control, it helps you see your credit score, compare rates for credit cards, auto insurance, home loans, and so forth, and gives financial advice. If you’re interested in learning about credit cards or raising your credit score (and didn’t learn enough from our articles about credit scores), it’s recommended.
4) SmartyPig is for people who need help saving. SmartyPig provides you with an FDIC insured savings account, in which you have the option to set goals for yourself. So for example, say you have your eye on a nice $600 flat screen television, but you can’t afford it now. So you decide to link your checking account to your SmartyPig account and automatically put away $25 a week. After six months, you’ll have the $600! The site also provides other, more innovate ways to trick yourself into saving money – and the savings account has a good rate (at least for these economic times).
5) Venmo is an easy way to pay back friends. It may seem a little silly, but this is the wave of the future. Via your smart phone or online, users are able to essentially “wire” money to other users without bothering with cash. So, for example, if you owe someone $38 for a concert ticket, but you won’t see them for two weeks (and writing and mailing a physical check is a pain for everyone), you can just send them the money within a matter of seconds. It’s safe and easy to use.
For a decade you’ve been able to do your taxes online, pay your bills online and so forth – it’s nice that Apps and websites have caught up and provide services for people to organize their money as well.
That said, use these sites as tools, not crutches – your financial future is yours, and these sites are effective (and can teach you a lot), but the only way you’ll successfully manage your finances long-term is if you know what you’re doing and why. In other words, these sites are not a magic solution – they work in combination with your attention, efforts and financial smarts.
So, let us know: What works for you? How do you manage your money? Do you use sites online? If so, which? And why? We look forward to hearing from you!