There are times when you wish you had managed your personal finances a little better.
Maybe it’s tax time when you realize how scattered your records are. Maybe it’s summer when you wish you had some more cash to spare. Maybe it’s during the holidays when your wallet’s looking a little thin. Or maybe it’s a major life event where you wish you had a better credit score to get a better loan.
In that moment, there’s nothing you can really do about your situation. But like the ancient proverb says:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Well, you can’t change your past money managing habits, but now’s a great time to start and put yourself in a better financial situation in the future.
And it’s never been easier with the technology we have. Here are some of the best apps and websites to manage your personal finances better. I personally use all of them.
Your credit score matters for a lot of life decisions. Whenever you have to take out a loan to buy a car or a house, your credit score determines your eligibility and the rate you can get. It’s also used when you want to rent an apartment.
Don’t be surprised by your credit score when it’s time to run it.
Credit Karma gets you a free credit report from the top 2 sources – Equifax and TransUnion. It’ll help you understand your credit score and provide tips for how you can improve it. Plus it monitors your credit score and alerts you of any changes that could affect it, like late payments or identity theft.
If you don’t track your finances, it can be easy to get to the end of the month or year and wonder where all your money went. We may guess at where we’re spending money, but it’s usually way off.
Mint connects to any and all your bank accounts, and tracks all your expenses for you. It then auto-categorizes everything so you can see where your money is going. It has visually engaging charts that let you see what percentage of your expenses you spent on food in the past month, and can let you dive deeper to see how much of that was spent on fast food or coffee shops.
Once you get an idea of how much you’re spending in each category, you can set monthly budgets and Mint will warn you when you get close to your limit or go over.
If you’ve gone out to eat with friends, you’ve probably run into the split check dilemma. You have a big party, and you don’t want to get into the hassle of asking to have the check split. So one person pays and everyone owes them. Except the money never gets paid back.
This could apply to other things, like splitting a fare, buying event tickets, or just spotting someone when they forget their wallet.
If you’ve ever loaned out money, you know that it can take a while to get paid back, if it ever happens.
Venmo is an app that makes it easy to send money and receive money. Just connect it to your bank account and you can instantly request money from a friend or pay them back.
You probably know it’s good to be investing, but you have no idea where start and don’t even know how the stock market works. Plus investing is one of those things you need to do early on in order to pay off later.
Acorns is an app that makes investing super simple by investing your spare change for you.
Connect it to your bank and Acorns will monitor your transactions. Every time you spend, it’ll round up to the next dollar and invest that money into your stock portfolio. For example, if you spend $5.75 on a meal, Acorns will take $0.25 from your bank account and invest it for you.
You can choose between different portfolio types from conservative to aggressive, and Acorns will choose the right stocks to invest in. You can also choose to automatically invest a set amount every month too, such as $10, to grow your investments faster. Of course, the money is yours, so you can withdraw at anytime.
For those who want to invest but are cautious about jumping in, Acorns makes it super easy and fun to tip toe in.
“But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. ” – Benjamin Franklin
And sometimes they feel like the same thing. No one likes doing taxes – it’s why we all wait 4 months until the absolute deadline.
The easiest thing to do is hire an accountant to do your taxes for you, but that gets expensive and can cost more than any deductions you might get back. You might try to do it on your own, but unless you have a degree in accounting, it can be pretty complicated.
For years, I’ve used TurboTax to do my taxes, and I own multiple businesses, so taxes can be a headache. TurboTax makes it easy by taking you step by step through each section and asking questions. It shows you what you owe or can deduct in real-time, so you know what affects your taxes.
At the end it does a check for you to make sure everything is in order, and lets you easily submit online. For a pretty low fee and just an hour or 2 on a Saturday, I can easily take care of all my taxes.
Get Smart About Your Finances Now
I wish I would have been more on top of my finances in my 20’s, but at least I’m getting a handle on them now. No matter how old you are, you can always improve.
These are the apps that make I use to put myself in a better financial situation, and they make it really easy for me since I don’t have the mind of an accountant at all.
Any others that you would recommend?