7 Great Online Money Management Tools
Managing your finances can seem like just a lot of math, but online money management tools can alleviate some of that work. Too often, people that do the math themselves end up mismanaging their money. That’s because personal finance is equal part numbers and mindset.
Money management covers a number of things and if there’s one thing that you need to remember, it’s that what you do with your money can have an enormous impact to your life. The way you spend, save, and invest will ultimately determine what path your financial life will take.
However, personal money management is a subject that’s rarely taught in school. After all, personal finance is just that, personal. There is no one-size-fits-all formula that will solve everyone’s financial dilemma.
But despite that, it’s good to know that certain financial principles remain true throughout these years. New innovations may introduce different approaches to money management, but if you get these basics down pat, you will be more or less financially capable to face what lies in the future.
Foundations For a Solid Financial Life
Some principles in personal finance remain true regardless of how your life or the economy changes. You might find the subject boring since it requires a lot of paperwork, but effectively managing your money is a must for you to live the kind of financial life that you want.
Make a Budget
The most basic money management tool for you is having a budget. It can be as simple as being written on a piece of paper or as sophisticated as a mobile application you can access on your smart phone. But the essence of the budget remains the same: to let you control your money.
To make a simple but working budget, you just need to list your income and your expenses. When you subtract your expenses from the income, there should still be something left. A negative number shows that you’re living beyond your means and you have to work on either increasing your income and/or cutting back on expenses.
The budget lets you see the bigger picture of how you’re spending your money rather than being in the mercy of your own money.
Live Within Your Means
Once you’ve made a budget, you’ll also see if you can sustain your lifestyle with your current earnings. Ideally, there should be a wide gap between your income and expenses (with your income exceeding your expenses) so you can use the surplus for something more meaningful, like savings or investments.
As the gap narrows, your breathing room also becomes slimmer. This is critical position because an unexpected expense could easily throw your budget off track and force you to find external income sources. Ultimately, you can get further into debt.
Living within your means allows you to prioritize your expenses and put value where it should matter. You might not have the best home in the neighborhood, but you have a huge chunk of money in savings. This can give you a great sense of financial security.
Having a working budget and living below your means will help you establish savings. It’s not enough that you can get by each paycheck with no debt and no savings. You should strive to save a certain portion of your income for both long term and short term financial goals.
Your savings will save you from any potential disaster and prevent small problems from becoming big ones. When establishing savings, make sure to name what it is for: emergencies, future home, education, retirement, etc.
Money in a savings account grows slowly. It may even be outweighed by inflation. The secret of the rich is that they invest a portion of their savings to enjoy a more rapid monetary growth.
Investing allows your money to grow over time with the help of compounding interest. Investments all come with a certain degree of risk, but you can manage these risks by picking safe and low-risks investment vehicles first. Investments don’t end at index funds and bonds, but can also extend to building a business or furthering your job through education and training.
Importance Of Proper Money Management
Your finances are composed of income, expenses, savings, and investments and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of these. This is also where the importance of proper money management comes in.
See the Bigger Picture of Your Finances
Actively managing your finances helps you see the bigger picture in an organized way. You see the details of each financial decision, whether how much credit you have left or what you owe to consumer debts.
Help You Make Better Decisions
You make financial decisions in a daily basis, whether it’s buying expensive imported coffee over picking up a cup at the gas station. Small decisions compound over time to have a big financial impacts. You also need to make important decisions when it comes to matters of saving, spending, and investing. If you can see where you stand financially, you’re in a better place to make sound financial decisions.
Online Tools to Help You Manage Your Money
There are now a number of applications and digital tools to help you manage your money from making a budget, tracking your expenses, and achieve your financial goals.
Proper money management with or without digital tools is important to help you control your money instead of the other way around. However, you can’t stop the technological revolution and making use of these online money management tools can actually help your financial cause.
We’ve rounded up the best personal finance management tools for your convenience and presented their highlights and drawbacks.
Mint is one of the first personal finance tools and probably one of the most popularly used in the US and Canada. It is a web-based app that you can use across devices like your computer, tablet, and smart phone. It is a great free app that helps you analyze your financial well-being from different aspects: budgeting, spending, and saving.
Another thing to love about Mint is that it is intuitive and user-friendly. Even those who have not tried making a budget or tracking their expenses will find Mint easy to use. What Mint does is allow you to combine all your financial details and accounts into one free Mint account. This involves banks, credit card issuers, loans and other financial institutions you have an account in.
Whatever transaction you do in any of these accounts will be automatically updated into your Mint.com account. For instance, if you’ve deposited money to your savings account, paid your credit card in full, or used your debit card, all of these will automatically show in Mint. Mint also generates graphs and charts to allow you to analyze your financial habits.
Mint is a great tool for people who are just starting to get a handle on their finances. If you never tried having a budget, tracking your expenses, or setting financial goals, Mint is and excellent starting point.
- It is free. You don’t pay anything to get a Mint account.
- It’s mobile. You can sync Mint across all devices so you can view your account whether you’re using a computer or your smart phone.
- Very useful features. You’ll love it’s useful and practical features. It’s basic but comprehensive enough to give you a solid picture of your finances.
- There are no investing features. Mint does not have a feature where you can track your investments.
- There are advertisements. It is one way that Mint makes money and continues to operate, but there are no guarantees that those advertisements are useful to you.
If you want to focus more on conquering debt, the app ReadyForZero will be very useful for your goal. ReadyForZero aggregates your debt information and gives you a customized advice on which debts to pay off first and how much. It operates with the virtue of debt avalanche method wherein the debt with the highest interest gets tackled first.
But why not tackle debts with the biggest amount first? ReadyForZero believes that high interest debts even at low amounts can get expensive fast. You want to kill those debts first then still use that same amount to pay your remaining debts, until you’re finally debt-free.
Technically, ReadyForZero is a very impressive app. It is easy to navigate, use, and figure out. You’ll see in one app how you stand in your debt payment plan. If you come to a point when you have to change your monthly payments, the app automatically adjusts how much you owe and until when you’d be paying your debt, all with just a few clicks.
The basic ReadyForZero app is free and the features are all helpful in getting you out of debt. But there’s the premium version, ReadyForZero Plus, which has additional features. Whichever ReadyForZero version you choose, you’ll find this app very useful if you’d like to focus your debts and killing them.
- Easy to adjust plans. You can easily change the amount of your payments based on your financial circumstances. The app will figure out the rest for you.
- Simple and easy to use. You can sign up in minutes and have a debt payment plan right away. The interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- The premium version allow you to automate your payments each month to your lenders. This way, you won’t miss any payment or get charged with late fees.
- This is app more targeted toward paying off debt and not on overall management of personal finance.
- Some people do not prefer the debt avalanche method. While this is an effective system to pay off debt, it can still be a matter of personal preference.
Before digital tools came into the picture, a lot of people used the cash envelop system to budget their money. It is still used today bypeople who prefer to use cash over their credit cards when making a purchase.
Basically, the cash envelop system allows you to put the budgeted amount for certain categories, i.e. Housing, food, gas, entertainment and so on into different envelops. When you need money to pay for something, you pull out cash from the right envelop.
Following the same principle, Mvelopes allows you to use digital envelopes from your account. Instead of using real envelopes, you only need to sign up to this online software and begin the budgeting process by using virtual envelopes. Like Mint, you can link your bank and credit card accounts to Mvelopes so you can view your financial status in one window.
Additionally, Mvelopes alerts you when you overspend in certain categories. You’ll see balance appearing in red if you spent more than the allocated budget. This helps you analyze where you fail to follow the budget and see where you might be able to make some cuts in order to stay in your overall budget. A great way to use excess money from the envelop is to save it, use it to pay off debt or add into your investments.
This software is more budget-focused and works well with people who are already familiar with the cash envelop system. But even if you’re just new to this budgeting system, you’ll still find using Mvelopes quite easy.
- This is an easy finance management tool for people who are already familiar with the traditional cash envelop budgeting system.
- The software alarms you when you go over the budget on certain categories, allowing you to make course corrections and keep the overall amount under wraps.
- Available as an app in most digital device.
- Tracks your net worth.
- This tool is focused on budgeting and does not include features for savings, investing, and paying off debt.
- Isn’t as easy to use as other finance management apps.
- Has a free trial for 2 weeks but the cost of subscription can be too much for some people. Mvelopes cost $95/year.
LearnVest is a money management tool that allows you to manage money on savings, expenses, debts, and investments. It has an app and a website that helps you establish a budget, track your expenses, and reach your financial goals. It also has its proprietary financial program called the Seven-Step LearnVest Action Program which helps you manage most of your finances.
The budget is at the core of LearnVest. It features a budget system that not only allows you to stay within the allocated spending, but it also has reminders so you don’t go on spending frenzy. The app allows you to instantly see where you stand financially and if you can afford an unexpected purchase while still being on track with your finances.
LearnVest also requires you to sync your accounts so that the app can analyze your financial habits. This is the best way to optimize your usage of LearnVest. However, the app also gives you the option to input your financial transactions manually, but that wouldn’t really complete your financial picture.
In short, LearnVest works as both your digital accountant and bookkeeper.
Signing up for LearnVest is free and most of the features are readily available with the free subscription. But you get some useful upgrades and perks with the paid subscription. For instance, you get your own customized and budgeting plan at $69 which is good for 3 months. You can also get access to financial expert, all or basic or complete financial plans, and all financial courses at additional costs.
LearnVest is a very comprehensive tool that allows you to manage your finances whether you’re new at personal finance or already quite savvy at it. The app helps you set your goals and stay on track for both the short and long term.
- Very comprehensive and powerful finance management tool. LearnVest offers diverse features that help enrich your finance planning in different aspects – saving, spending, budgeting.
- Provides certified finance planner services very affordably. Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars to straighten your finances, you actually get access to your finance planner 24/7 through email.
- Focuses in all aspects of personal finance and has plans for both long and short term finance goals.
- LearnVest does not provide investing advice and features.
The BudgetPulse is a budget-focused application with simple yet powerful features. What this app aims to do is help you get your budget established and work for your financial needs and circumstances.
Just like the most basic budget, this app works by categorizing your money into income and expenses. There’s also a feature where you can link your bank and credit card accounts. But unlike other modern tools, you’ll have to do this manually. At one hand, this idea helps remove security risks. On the other hand, this does not give you the overall picture of your finances automatically.
The BudgetPulse is so simple that one glimpse already gives you the overall idea of where your finances stand. It allows you to easily adjust the amount to any of your expenses at any given time. The app also generates charts and graphs to give you deeper and more meaningful information about your finances.
This app is great for people who never made any budget in their life and want to start with something simple and basic. BudgetPulse works for some advanced users as well, but the lack of other features may leave them unsatisfied. Finally, it’s free and safe and good enough for simple personal budgets.
- Very simple budgeting app perfect for newbies to budgeting.
- You can easily change the amounts in your budget and see where your finances stand.
- Doesn’t sync with your bank and credit accounts, therefore keeping vital information safe and secured.
- Accessible online with any internet enabled device.
- It’s so simple to the point of lacking the sophisticated features other advanced budgeting systems have.
- You have to input your financial data manually. You don’t see your financial standing automatically as it doesn’t link with your financial accounts.
The BudgetTracker is an online budget-tracking program that aims to help you establish a budget and stick to it. Now running for more than a decade, the BudgetTracker has put together numerous useful features for both personal and small business finance management.
One of the most notable features of this application is the fact that you can either manually input financial data or link it with your financial accounts for real-time updates on your financial standing. This app allows you to receive alerts for looming bills so you don’t miss another payment and stay true to your budget.
The BudgetTracker also enables you to see your spending habits instantly. This feature let’s you see if you’re staying within the budget and allow you to make the necessary changes in your budget as your circumstances change. You will also appreciate the app’s capability to generate charts and graphs for better visualization on the various aspects of your finances.
Interestingly, the BudgetTracker also has features that small business owners can take advantage of. You can create invoices, balance sheets, and cash flow plans. Its calendar can also deliver alerts for business and financial-related activities.
- It is easy to use. It can easily be understood even by people who are new to budgeting.
- The calendar alerts remind you of upcoming financial obligations and meet your due dates.
- Intuitive features let you analyze your financial position easily.
- It does not provide features geared towards debt payment and investing.
Saving is one of the most challenging tasks. It requires a good dose of commitment and dedication. But with the help of an online savings tool like SmartyPig, it should be easy to see your savings accumulate over time.
SmartyPig is both simple and complicated. Basically, it works by allowing you to save (or contribute) into a savings goal. Whatever that goal may be, the only requirement is that it has to have a name. You could save towards a new car, gadget or vacation. And then you start saving money towards these goals.
SmartyPig is a high-yielding savings account with an interest of 1.35%. Among other online savings account, SmartyPig provides the best deal in terms of interest rate. Additionally, SmartyPig is insured by the FDIC and backed by one of the most established banks in the country, the West Bank.
But other people can contribute to your savings goals as well. You might consider that contribution like a gift. Parents who want their children start saving up might also find that tools like SmartyPig are actually beneficial.
- The app encourages users to save each month. It is easy to change the amount or goal, but the main objective is to get you to save.
- It gets friends and family more involved with your goals. They can contribute money towards your goals easily.
- It is insured and backed by reputable financial institutions. It also carries a pretty high interest rate.
- You can create multiple savings accounts with their own deadlines. This helps improve accountability on your end.
- You’ll easily see the savings progress for each goal.
- It can be a meticulous process to save your money. You may be able to get gift cards for items that you can buy from their partner stores or have the funds transferred into the SmartyPig debit card, but getting the money in cash don’t happen instantly.
- The company charges 2.9% for contributions from people who are not SmartyPig users.
- It is more ideal for short-term goals. However, long-term goals like retirement don’t really fit into the SmartyPig’s platform.
There’s already a good number of digital money management tools available nowadays. They range in function and practicality. Some may focus on one aspect of finance like budgeting or saving, while others give you a more holistic approach towards the entirety of your finances.
There’s no wrong or right tool. You might even want to consider an app that helps you pay off debt and another dedicated solely to budgeting. You just need to make sure that the tools work for you.
All in all, whichever approach you choose to manage your finances, keep in mind that you’re doing this to build a better financial health at present and prepare a more solid financial life for the future.
Cary Silverman is a consummate entrepreneur having sold multiple companies during his 20 years of business experience in the financial industry, but for him, it isn’t about the money. His success is rooted in his passion to focus on doing something better today than it was done yesterday. These days, he’s the CEO of Waldo General, Inc. that oversees the operation of King of Kash.