Advancements in internet security technology have led to a proliferation of websites that offer bank-level security and the chance to organize your financial life in one way or another. Back in the olden days (2005), many of us were hesitant or unwilling to provide our social security numbers or bank log-in credentials to third-party sites. Now, safety and security are well established and membership on those sites grows exponentially each year. Providers have popped up in every possible niche to meet our financial management needs. Let’s ignore, for the moment, services that charge a fee, and just take a look at the best reputable, free financial management tools available to anyone with an Internet connection.
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Overall finances and financial goals
Yodlee MoneyCenter is a powerful financial overview and budgeting tool. You can monitor and manage all of your finances, including rewards accounts, real estate and your investment portfolio. Yodlee’s tax tools help you find possible tax deductions in your transactions, and reminders let you know when bills are due. Yodlee analyzes your expenses, cash flow and credit card utilization.
Depending on the relationships you have with your banks and creditors, Yodlee can be cumbersome to set up. It does not automatically pull in different types of accounts from a single source. In other words, when you link up your bank account, Yodlee will not automatically connect a credit card or investment account held at the same bank. You’ll have to link them up separately, even if you use the same log-in credentials for the different accounts.
Personal Capital specializes in showing you your real-time net worth and helping you to manage your investment portfolio. Personal Capital shows your cash flow, and makes investment suggestions based on your risk tolerance and time to retirement. Investors at all levels give this service very high marks for investment portfolio management. For a fee, you can invest through Personal Capital, which employs a staff of financial advisers and portfolio managers. Like Yodlee, Personal Capital requires you to enter the same login credentials for each category of account that you link up.
Tracking your credit score
Credit Sesame is the best tool for tracking your credit score and overall credit and debt. It provides your Experian credit score for free every month, in addition to customized offers for better deals on all types of credit. Email alerts are, of course, customizable. Recommendations are always based on the financial bottom line, not on advertising or vendor relationships. The goal is to minimize the cost of your total debt, and work toward the highest possible credit score in order to optimize the terms you’re offered on future financing.
Paying your bills on time
Manilla is a digital account management service, where you can manage your bills, subscriptions and rewards accounts. On a single dashboard, you can check due dates for your utility bill, phone bill, credit cards, insurance, mortgage and more, plus check the status of your magazine subscriptions and frequent flyer or other rewards accounts. You can even link up your Groupon and Living Social internet coupon accounts and check the status and expiration of the deals you’ve purchased. Nothing torpedoes your credit score like late payments do.
Manilla protects your score by providing your entire portfolio of financial obligations on a single screen, and reminders in advance of all payment due dates.
No matter what tools you choose to use, be sure you keep your web browser up-to-date, and be sure to confirm that basic security measures are in place each time you log on.
The URL should begin with https:// and a padlock icon should appear in the address bar. Always check for these two indications that you’re on a genuine and secure website. Clever phishing scams appear every day, and mimic secure sites down to the tiniest detail. Don’t inadvertently provide a thief with the ability to retrieve your personal and financial details.
Kimberly Rotter is a personal finance writer in San Diego, CA. She brings nearly 20 years of practical knowledge along with a solid post-graduate education in business and marketing. You can find more of her articles on Credit Card Insider.
*Editor’s Note: Manilla is closing and no longer accepting new accounts.