The first thing I thought when I graduated from college last month, was YES. FINALLY. The second, and more pertinent thought I had was how am I going to pay my debt and begin to save money? I know I am not the only one, and the class of 2013 is entering with a huge debt load and uncertain job prospects. Taking control and mastering your finances is paramount to having a balanced life, and being able to make the best decisions for yourself, and loved ones. In order to do this, and make it a habit, you have to start NOW. This is a collection of sites and mobile apps that securely sync with your accounts and other financial data, reduce you debt, grow your wealth and save you money.
I used to loathe budgeting. Mainly because if done well, it becomes painfully obvious that eating at Chipotle three times a week is financially irresponsible and downright gluttonous. But you cannot build wealth without knowing where your money comes and goes. So let’s get started.
Mint is definitely at the forefront of the personal finance field. It allows you to track your spending, set up budgets, and establish goals you want to have accomplished. It categorizes transactions, and has a great set of apps so you can check your bank statements virtually anywhere. It can sometimes mislabel transactions, so you have to manually go in and fix them so they make sense. Other than that, it’s pretty much flawless.
With Mint you:
- Categorize transactions
- Set & Monitor savings goals
- Visually see your monthly cash flow
- Receive customized updates about changes to your accounts
I was never good at math in school, but I found that when I did learn with numbers, they generally had to come in the form of graphs. Personal Capital does many of the same things Mint does, but has one major leg up: its investment advice is timely and relevant. Personal Capital takes your entire financial portfolio, and gives you suggestions on where you have liabilities, possibly alerts to fraud, and how to diversify your portfolio. The great part is that the information is presented so anyone can understand it, not just Warren Buffett.
With Personal Capital you:
- Have a visual representation of your financial life
- Get personalized investment advice and tips
- See the market broken down into information you can understand and use
Knowing how your spending effects your credit is essential to good financial health. Unfortunately, you can only get an official credit check once a year without risking damage to negatively your credit score. Credit Karma changes all that, but giving you an unofficial credit score using the same system that a credit bureau would. Just sync your accounts, loans, and investments, and watch your credit score appear. If you want to know where you stand and how to improve your credit, than CreditKarma is the best choice.
Credit Karma lets you:
- Check your credit score
- Get recommendations to improve your score
- Always know where your credit ranks among other consumers
- Alert you when you are using your credit dangerously
Debt is horrible. There is no way around it. If you are in college, or recently graduated, the odds are that you most likely have some. These sites can help you track and get rid of it quicker.
Similar to Mint.com, except for loans, Tuition.io gives you the ability to visually see and interpret your repayment situation. Need to know exactly how long it will take to repay that Biology degree with a minor in English? Tuition.io gives you a visual graph you can manipulate, coupled with real solution you can implement. You – 1 . Debt – 0.
Tuition.io helps you
- Physically see your debt over time
- Find the right type of repayment schedule that matches your goals
Having a system is often the most overlooked part of paying down your debt. ReadyforZero gives you that ability, with a suite of solutions and helpful advice that is tailored to your specific needs. It takes into account your full financial pictures, not just your debt, so at any time you can adjust your strategy for paying back your loans. They have customized advice based on your financial situation, and a great blog focused on helping you pay down debt faster.
ReadyForZero helps you:
- Pay down your debt faster
- Find the best type of payment for your situation
- Get actionable advice and support
They saying goes that only two things are certain in life, death and taxes. I would like to add a third guarantee to that phrase: bills. If you do not have them yet you will, and they will suck. Here are some ways to make them less painful.
I definitely forget when my cellphone bill is due, but that has to stop. Manilla makes sure you will never forget to pay another bill, because it automates them. While the services does not have every single company, it is constantly adding new ones. Chances are if you live in a major city, they have you covered.
No more paper, no more hassle.
Manilla lets you:
- Automate reminders about bills
- Pay bills directly through their system
- Convert all your statements to e-notices (no more paper!)
When you get that notice from your cable company, cellphone provider, or electric company, what do you do? I know my eyes just get big and I want to find ways to move decimal points to the left. BillShrink does that, by telling you how much you are paying in relation to your geographic area, and ways you can save.
BillShrink tells you:
- How much you could be saving on your cellphone, internet, & cable bill
- Personalized recommendations based on your location
There is no shame in frugality, and you do not have to carry a book of coupons to do it. Check out these resources to save money on everyday things, and have your wallet love you back.
I online window shop like I get paid for it. Unfortunately, my wallet is not large enough to accommodate all the things I bookmark. But when I find a discount? GAME OVER. RetailMeNot provides you with promo codes, discounts and flash sales that retailers have going on. So before you click buy, open up a tab and try RetailMeNot first.
With RetailMeNot you:
- Get the best discounts and promo codes daily
- Check which stores have the best discounts when you need them
Ebates is a coupon mom’s dream. It has discounts at almost every major retailer imaginable, and is consistently offering sales, discounts and specials. Ebates partners with retailers to give you cashback on things you would already be buying. Once your savings goes past $5, you get a check. Just visit the site, find where you will be shopping, and click. It’s that simple.
With Ebates you:
- Get discounts from major retailers and outlets
- Actual cashback from the purchase you would make anyway!
Nothing makes me almost shed a tear like the cost of gas. One summer I rode my bike everywhere just to avoid the struggle. GasBuddy makes this easier, by telling you exactly where the cheapest prices are in your location. The prices are updated consistently by the community, so you will always have up to date information, and save at the pump.
Gas Buddy tells you:
- The cheapest gas prices
- Consistent updates on prices based on your location
- Monthly drawings for gas cards
Personally, I need to learn more about the markets before I begin investing, buying stocks and opening new accounts. In order to do that, I need unbiased advice from places that have my best interest in mind. Here are a few of those.
You deserve the best deals when it comes to where you keep your money. But more importantly, the information needs to be objective. Bankrate “is the Web’s leading aggregator of financial rate information”, with all the information about any financial product you need. If it has to do with money, Bankrate has an unbiased review.
With Bankrate you can:
- Check your current financial service provider against 100s of other ones and find the best deal
- Get info on the best CDs, Checking & Savings accounts, Online Banks, and Private Loan Lenders
- Get the most up to date information on interests rates
As blessed as I am to have the education I do, I know little to nothing about the stock market, investing, or buying stocks. Gordon Geico would loathe me. Thankfully, WallStreetSurvivor was made for me. It is all parts simulator, teaching module, and financial market game all wrapped up in one. Imagine Skillshare and CodeAcademy mixed into one, built to help you do the whole money thing better.
WallStreetSurvivor teaches you:
- The basics of buying and selling stocks using a world-class simulator
- Easy tutorials in a variety of personal finances, investing, and a host of other business topics
Investopedia is the Wikipedia of money. Anything you need to know about finance, investing, portfolio management, or credit, they have. The real treasure is its huge video library that makes any financial concept easy (and fun) to understand. If you want to up your knowledge game, Investopedia is the place to do it.
Investopedia lets you:
- Survey their giant library of content
- Subscribe to personalized newsletters
- Learn the stock market buy playing in their Wall Street simulator
To master your finances, you have to continuously learn and refine your strategies.
Many of these sites should be used in addition to your other investing strategies, financial advice from professionals, and whatever else is working for you. I know mastering my finances will lead me to a better place both personally and professionally. It can do the same for you. Let’s become as involved and aware of our money as we are with our dreams and future business plans. Money isn’t everything, but when used well, it can open doors and give us more freedom to do what we want.
I know this list is not exhaustive, so tell me what I missed! Are there specific sites you use to organize your financial life? Let me know in the comments!
Jonathan Jackson is a recent college graduate who is building his brand, with a few Lego sets on the side. He loves technology, content marketing, and Air Max 90s. You can find Jonathan on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and his blog, where he muses about the trials and triumphs of being a 20something.
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