Some people want immediate mobile access to their finances via a smartphone. Others prefer to manage their money with an old-school spreadsheet or ledger. Some crave a comprehensive platform for viewing and managing their entire financial picture. Others want a tool for a narrower financial purpose, such as to automatically divert money into a savings account or just to pay bills.
Whatever your priority or level of tech savvy, chances are there is a tool that’s suited to you. Finding it is the challenge.
It’s important to get a tool that fits your financial-personality type. Some people want something that provides a lot of detail. For others, too much detail can become overwhelming. Some work on a personal computer. Others prefer a tablet or a smartphone. The tool has to match your profile, or you won’t use it.
Whatever your personality type, using a personal financial tool for budgeting and other purposes has tangible benefits. It makes you a better decision-maker by giving you a clearer understanding of what’s going on with your finances – what you can and can’t afford to do. In addition to helping you see where you stand, it helps you make changes if you need to, and to be more disciplined about your spending.
From smartphone apps to tools that work on multiple devices and in online or offline settings, today’s generation of budgeting and personal-finance tools come with a wide range of features, among them the ability to tie into and view multiple bank and credit accounts, to automate payments and to monitor spending according to category.
Here are just three of today’s go-to tools to help manage your money:
For the general user, Mint.com is among the most user-friendly, feature-rich and comprehensive personal-finance tools available today. Versatile and free to users, Mint.com provides a real-time look across multiple account balances. It also provides budgeting tools, bill-pay alerts and automatic transactions.
For the committed user, the YouNeedABudget software platform ($12 a month after a free trial; youneedabudget.com) offers access to financial literacy classes, tutorials, money-management tips and other resources, along with the ability to set goals and view information from multiple accounts on a single page.
For couples, the Honeydue app (honeydue.com) allows you and your partner to see your financial pictures in one spot, including bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments. It also gives you the option of choosing how much you share with your significant other. Together, you can set up monthly limits in multiple categories, and Honeydue will alert you when you or your partner nears them. Honeydue also sends reminders for upcoming bills and lets you chat and send emojis.
For people who prefer to manage their money the old-fashioned way, there are homemade Excel spreadsheets, checkbooks and even the ledger sheet and pencil approach. Ultimately, any tool that helps you get a better handle on your budget is a tool worth using.
JASON E. SIPERSTEIN, CFA, CFP, RMA, is the chairman of the Financial Planning Association of Rhode Island, program director for the CFA Society Providence and president of Eliot Rose Wealth Management. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.