Whether you want to shop less, save more or just cut down on debt, managing your finances is hard. But these days, it’s easier than ever to get help — without shelling out for pricey financial planners or accountants. There are tons of services and apps available online, and they can help you with everything from making monthly budgets to paying off your student loans. Here are some of the best ones:
Mint is one of the easiest and most effective online tools for general financial planning. It’s a great resource if you’re just starting out and want a simple way to stay on top of your finances. Mint is best at helping you budget. Just link to your bank account, input your income and set sliding-scale budgets for housing, food, entertainment, shopping, healthcare and more. Mint will automatically track and categorize your transactions, and alert you when you’re over budget or when your spending is high. You can also make the most of Mint by linking your savings accounts, investments, retirement plans, insurance plans and mortgages. You can keep tabs on all your accounts and set financial goals — Mint will offer tips and advice to help you meet them. The best part? Mint’s free mobile app, which allows you to easily check your finances on the go.
If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of bills. Rent or mortgage. Internet, cable and phone. Credit cards and student loans. It can be hard to keep track of them all — but Check.me can help. When you have multiple bills each month, it’s not always easy to remember to pay them. And if you forget, you can incur overdrafts or late fees, or even affect your credit in the long term. To avoid that, use Check.me to manage your bills. Check.me links to your credit cards, loans, and monthly bills and reminds you when payments are due. You can even pay some bills right from the site or the Check mobile app. You can also use Check.me to keep an eye on your bank account — though it doesn’t have the same budgeting capabilities as Mint, you can link to your checking and savings accounts to see your balance.
If a little competition is just what you need to stick to your financial resolutions, FlexScore is the perfect tool for you. The free site looks at your assets, debt, investments and income, and gives you a score based on your financial information — all you have to do is answer a few questions. You can also link your bank, credit card and loan accounts for a more accurate assessment. Then, you can compare your score to other people in your income bracket, age group or geographic location. You can raise your FlexScore by making good financial decisions, like lowering your mortgage rate or updating your insurance policies. FlexScore also offers personalized advice and tips to help you save, invest and improve your score.
You Need a Budget
If you’re willing to spend a little bit for online financial planning, You Need a Budget is a great resource to help you start spending less and saving more. Like other online financial planning services, YNAB monitors your spending and income to keep you on track for your financial goals. But YNAB doesn’t link directly to your bank — you have to import or manually enter transactions every time you spend. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Manually entering transactions is less convenient, sure, but it can help you be more aware of just how much you’re spending. You can also use YNAB to keep track of your bills, set aside money for occasional large expenses and make budgets. It costs $60 to download, but you can try YNAB for free for 34 days. One thing to remember — most planning tools require access to your bank account, credit cards and loans and other financial information. Make sure you only work with safe, reputable sources, and protect your accounts with strong passwords and security settings.