Personal Finance Tools

Track Spending / Budgeting / Cash Flow Plan

You Need a budget (Ynab)

While most budgeting software gives you a tool to plan how you would like to spend your money before you get it, YNAB only allows you to plan your spending after you receive money.  How can you spend something that you don't have?  This is what makes YNAB one of the most powerful personal finance tools.  In addition, you can customize your income and expense categories any way you see fit.  This customization allows you to track in a way that provides useful information to you so that you can better plan for your future. 

You can connect your bank accounts to automatically import transactions or you can choose to manually create every transaction (use it like you would a traditional check register).  YNAB will also allow you to track your debt and net worth.  You can run reports to review your actual spending habits and make more informed decisions moving forward.

Interested in YNAB?  Learn more here.

We can help you get started and set up your YNAB account.  To schedule an appointment, click here.

budget worksheet 

We understand that some people prefer to plan using good old paper and pencil.  We have created a budget worksheet that can be completed in Excel or printed and  completed on paper. 

This budget worksheet serves several purposes.

  • Provides a section where you can set goals regarding what percent of your income you would like to spend on certain categories of expenses.

  • Create a detailed budget for income and expenses.

  • Plan your spending by pay period and by month.

  • Help you use the bucket strategy where you create different pots of money by dividing your money between multiple bank accounts.

The categories are as follows: Income, Savings, Investing, Giving, Fixed Expenses, Debt, Variable Expenses, Other.  Subcategories can be customized (filled in) according to your personal needs.

control spending

Qapital

Qapital is an online bank account that can be used for saving and spending.  If you have a specific budget for certain expenses and would like to allocate those funds to a separate bank account, Qapital is a good tools to use.  You can transfer money from your current bank account directly to your Qapital account or have funds direct deposited via your paycheck (employer payroll).

When using the Qapital debit card you can receive notification when funds are spent as well as track your available balance.

What makes Qapital unique is that you can set rules to help you save money.  Some of the rules include rounding your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit into savings goal, the 52 week challenge, and recurring deposits.  You can also create your own savings rules, as well as have multiple savings goals.

Visit Qapital.

Saving

Smarty pig

Smarty Pig is an online savings account.  The great thing about smarty pig is that it allows you to save for specific goals.  You can create an unlimited amount of goals and set up automatic recurring contributions or manually contribute to your goal as you choose. 

Smarty Pig accounts are offered through Sallie Mae Bank, Member FDIC, so you receive an actual bank account and routing number.  You can set up direct deposit from your employer to have money deposited into your SP account each payroll.  Direct deposits are available the day of your deposit.

It normally takes 2-3 business days to transfer money to or from SP from your connected bank account.

Learn more or open a Smarty Pig account here.

Simple Investments

Acorn Investments

The Acorn App allows you to invest small amounts into exchange trade funds.  An exchange trade funds (ETF's) is a group of stocks and/or bonds bundled together.  You won't have to handpick stocks or study companies to determine what to invest in.  Acorn has pre-selected a group of funds.  You get to choose if you would like your portfolio to include stocks, bonds, or both.

Acorn allows you to invest by connecting a debit or credit card and it will round your change every time you make a purchase and deposit the funds into your account by withdrawing the money from your connected bank account.  You can also choose to set up recurring contributions and one time contributions.  With the found money option, when you make online purchases with certain vendors, the vendor will contribute a certain percent of your purchase total to your Acorn account.

The Acorn investment fee is $1 per month.  You can not hire an investment professional for $1 per month, so the fee is not bad in my opinion.

Sign up for Acorn here.

Stockpile

Stockpile is an online investment tool and app.  You can choose to invest in a selection of individual stock or index funds.  You can also by partial shares of a stock.  So, let's say you would like to invest in Apple.  If you do not have $1000 to buy a share of stock, you can invest what you do have an buy a partial share.

What I like about stockpile is that they also allow you to create minor accounts for your children, which most of the other investment apps will not let you do.  The larger investment broker will require you to have large chunks of money, such as $2000, to open your child an investment account.  You can open an account at Stockpile with $5.

Stockpile charges $0.99 per trade.

Get started with Stockpile here.

Betterment

Contributing to your employers retirement plan is not the only way to save for retirment.  Betterment provides a simple way for you to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) on your own.  You can open a Traditional or Roth IRA.  You can also open a taxable account (non-retirement) account if you choose.

Betterment also uses exchange trade funds (ETF's).  You get to choose if you would like your portfolio to include stocks, bonds, or both.

Learn more or open an account with Betterment here.

 

disclosure

The review of these products are reviews provided by us based upon our personal use of these products.  Some of the links provided are referral links, others are not.  Review each product carefully to determine if it is the best product for you.  You can find more information for each product/service by visiting the vendors website.  Use our summaries for educational purposes and as an introduction or awareness that it exists.