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10 Free Tools to Help Build Your Financial Plan


Taking control of your finances can pay big dividends, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are a range of free personal financial planning tools that can help you create a budget, track expenses, manage investments, set financial goals and monitor your progress towards those goals. From AI-powered chatbots to old-fashioned printed worksheets, there’s sure to be a no-cost tool available that will empower you to make informed decisions about your money and build a solid foundation for your financial future. For deeper insight and a personal touch, you can also consider taking your personal financial planning questions to a financial advisor.

Financial Planning Tool Fundamentals

A financial planning tool is a resource that helps individuals manage their money, create budgets, track expenses, oversee investments, manage debts and otherwise plan for their financial future. By simplifying the process and helping you visualize your short-term and long-term financial goals, these tools can make it easier for you to understand your financial situation, and help you make more informed decisions to achieve those financial goals.

Financial planning tools may take the form of software, apps, online tools, spreadsheet templates or printed worksheets. Literacy resources such as books, FAQs and courses that help you learn about financial planning concepts and techniques could also be consider financial planning aids. However, this list will focus on resources that in some way facilitate the actual work of financial planning rather than imparting the concepts.

10 Free Financial Planning Tools

A couple using financial planning tools to set their household budget.

Here are 10 free financial planning resources for you to consider:

  1. Make a budget. Effective budgeting is a basic skill for financial planning, and free tools don’t get much more basic than’s online monthly budgeting solution. You fill out the cells with information on your monthly income and expenses, and instantly get a readout showing whether your budget is in the red or you’ll have money left over.
  2. Printed worksheets. Non-profit credit counselor American Consumer Credit Counseling has a free worksheet you can download, print and fill out in pencil or pen. It’s the low-tech way to get started budgeting and tracking expenses.
  3. Spreadsheets. Excel, which is part of Microsoft’s Office suite, as well as the free online Google Sheets app offer highly flexible methods of managing your finances, but require some work and study to use effectively. To get a jump start, you can download free templates for Excel and Sheets from sources such as Canva.
  4. Goodbudget. This smartphone app supplies more functionality with no added expense. Goodbudget’s model employs the familiar envelope system that sets aside money for specific recurring expenses like rent, groceries, dining out and so on. Other features assist you in accumulating savings and paying down debts. One nice option is the ability to sync across devices, so you and your spouse can share and update budgets. There are paid versions, but the free version, offering 10 primary envelopes, 10 second-level envelopes and sharing across two devices will get you a long way.
  5. MoLo. This no-cost, ad-free app does the heavy budget lifting by connecting to your bank, credit card and other accounts, analyzing transactions and assigning them to spending categories. It predicts future events such as paydays and recurring bills like subscriptions, and estimates how much you’ll have left over at month’s end. The app also has alerts to warn you about upcoming charges, and suggest ways to pay down debt and pursue other goals.
  6. Special-purpose calculators. SmartAsset’s investment return and growth calculator, retirement calculator and other calculators covering income taxes, take-home pay and more supply powerful insights into key questions you’ll encounter when planning your finances. These calculators are free, highly customizable and accessed via simple online interfaces.
  7. Empower. ‌You can use this free app-based tool to link all your investment, retirement and other accounts, create a budget, track monthly expenses, measure your net worth, and see how well you’re doing on spending and saving goals such as retirement and college funds. If you want to go a step further, you can pay a fee to connect to a robo-advisor that will help you build and manage a customized investment portfolio.
  8. Portfolio Visualizer. This online software platform focuses on portfolio and investment analytics with a comprehensive suite of tools to help you compare and analyze portfolios and investment products. The free version hooks you up to surprisingly advanced techniques including Monte Carlo simulation, portfolio optimization, portfolio backtesting and tactical allocation models.
  9. Debt Payoff Planner. If you want to focus on retiring your liabilities, this free app may be for you. To use it, enter information about your debts, including balance, interest rate and minimum. Select a payoff approach such as avalanche, snowball or a custom method, and you’ll get a debt payoff plan with visuals showing how long it will take to retire each debt, interest you’ll pay and the payments required.
  10. Erica. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you can take advantage of the AI-powered personal financial planning chatbot that’s part of its mobile banking app. Erica handles many basic budgeting tasks like reviewing spending, and adds extras like informing you when duplicate charges appear or merchants post refunds to your account.

Bottom Line

A woman uses financial planning tools to get a clearer picture of her financial situation.

You can use these tools individually or in combination to get a clearer and more accurate view of your financial situation. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions about how to manage your money. As a result, you’ll be better positioned to achieve your financial goals and objectives.

Financial Planning Tips

  • A financial advisor can provide you with customized insight into how to pursue your personal financial dreams. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Your location is one of the most potent influences on your ability to save. SmartAsset’s Cost of Living Comparison Calculator lets you estimate how much you could save by relocating to a lower-cost area.

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