My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Financial Tool...What's That?

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Financial Tool...What's That?Many individuals find managing their personal finances confusing. Sorting through papers and statements can cause them a great deal of anxiety.

Thankfully, numerous online tools exist designed to assist people who need help organizing and gaining control of their finances. These tools are easily accessible to anyone with a computer and access to the Internet. Many tools and services are available, but most cost you money, which might be hard to justify if you do not have much money to spend.

However, there are free online money management tools.

I found some online money management tools that are free, and they are secure. In most cases the companies use the same standards as required for online banking and in some cases offer a higher level of security.

Let's start with account aggregators. The easiest way to manage your money is to see everything in one place. That is where these account aggregators come into play. The following tools allow you to track your finances in one place. Most of them will securely log in to your financial accounts, download your recent transactions and balances, and display that information so you can see how much money you have, how much you owe, how your investments are doing, and when your bills are due. Then you can use this information to make informed decisions and create a budget that works for you

Personal Capital: This is the most versatile money management tool I've come across. At a top level, Personal Capital helps you track your income and spending; it also allows you to track your credit cards and similar accounts. You can even use it to send reminders for your credit card due dates. But this tool really shines when you use it for tracking your investments. Opening a Personal Capital account gives you in-depth access to understanding what your investments are and how they interact with each other. This is especially useful if you hold investments in multiple locations, or if your portfolio is comprised of multiple mutual funds. With Personal Capital, you can understand how these investments work together and help determine whether or not you are over- or under-exposed in any asset class based on your goals, age, and risk tolerance. This tool can help you manage your 401(k), IRAs, mutual funds, individual stocks, and other investments. This free investment software is recommended for investors of all experience levels, from beginners to experts, and for investors with any size portfolio.

Adaptu:  This is a secure online tool that allows you to track all of your accounts in one place, including your banks, credit cards, investments, loans, and reward points. With this tool, you can create budgets, use an integrated calendar for scheduling bills and payments, participate in an online community, and manage your money on the go with their mobile app.

Yodlee:  This is one of the oldest and most comprehensive online money management programs. Yodlee differs from most of the other tools because it is not a cash flow or budgeting tool-it is a one-stop shop to track your financial health and offers "a consolidated view of all assets . . . from accounts such as brokerage, insurance, 401(k), mortgage, etc." Being able to track your entire net worth online is a great feature, but Yodlee offers much more than just tracking net worth. Users can create a budget and track spending, monitor online accounts, create expense analysis charts, track real estate value, or share access to your account (this is great for sharing info with your spouse, accountant, or financial planner). 

Customers can transfer funds, pay any bill or individual, pay bills via credit and debit card, receive eBills from over 2,900 institutions, create transaction alerts, set up mobile access, and more. To top it off, Yodlee is one of the most secure online money management tools out there.  Users of benefit from the combination of a personal finance budgeting program and an online community of users who interact with one another and offer financial advice. Wesabe takes all of a user's bank accounts and credit cards and combines them in one easy-to-use location. Purchases can be tagged as a splurge, groceries, etc., allowing users to know exactly where every dollar is going. Users who are uncomfortable giving Wesabe access to their banking information have the option to manually enter purchases and deposits to track spending. In addition, users benefit from the user reviews of merchants, as well as their tools, to see an average of how much users are spending at one store versus another. Wesabe is available both online and as an app for mobile devices.

You Need a Budget: This tool is aimed at people living close to their budget and trying to pay off debt. The tool encourages you to decide where every dollar earned is going on a monthly basis, and then helps you make adjustments if you spend too much. 

Thousands of consumers have incorporated online personal financial management tools into their lives.

While they have been around for years, only recently have they started to really take off, with about one in four consumers using some kind of tool. "With the downturn causing more financial headaches for people, they've become a lot more disciplined, so they are turning to tools," says Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at the research and advisory firm Aite.

The tools are also much better than they used to be. They now allow users to automatically upload all of their financial data for quick analysis. Shevlin adds that the process has also become more fun, because some sites, such as, make it easy to compare spending habits with other users, which makes budgeting a more social process. "It shows you, 'People like you spent money this way,' so there's more of a context," says Shevlin.

A recent survey by Aite suggests that personal finance tools actually change people's behavior, too. In a survey of people who use such tools, 75 percent said they now have better control of their finances. Forty percent said they are saving more money, and twenty percent said they are paying less in late fees.

It just can't get much easier to manage your budget, pay bills, save, and strengthen your financial future. The Internet and computers have taken all the drudgery out of most every aspect of our lives.  Need an answer to a question?  Need a map to a destination?  Need a specific recipe or just looking for recipe ideas? Need a date? Need to know the weather? How about what movies are playing in your community?  How about checking on gas prices, either in your community or while traveling? 

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea. 

Until now, I have done my budget using a spreadsheet and that's okay too; however, after researching and writing this blog, I am going to try several of these free websites with the intention of finding the one that fits me best.  Then, it's good-bye spreadsheet!  I hope you will do the same and take the first step in bringing your financial life to a brand new level.  Good luck!

Kimberly Johns, retired debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Kimberly Johns

Kimberly has been on the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP) for just under a year. Kimberly is very active in the Community Forums, some of you may recognize her Community user name; Tiquie. Recently retired, she is going to share how she and her husband manage the financial challenges of living on a fixed income in their home state of Illinois. The John's have found some really creative and fun ways to offset the limitations of a retirement income, which Kimberly is generously planning to share in her My Journey out of Debt blog! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • Hello Kimberly, It is very informative post. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

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