Archives for February 13, 2012

Financial Tools that Make My Life Easier

Tools for your finances

(from ebetterment)

Everyone in the personal finance community has their own preferred banks and online tools to help them keep track of their finances.  We all know personal finance is, well, personal.  So here are the tools I use (and love!) to keep track of my own finances:


I don’t know of many people that don’t use Mint.  When they were purchased by Intuit I was REALLY worried that my beloved website would take a turn for the worse, but those fears were unfounded.  Aside from extra ads, Mint has continued to be rock solid and is wonderful for tracking data historically, as well as giving an overall view of my finances.  It’s smart about tracking transactions and it awesome to see how much money I’ve spent on a particular category (like Pet) over the past 5 years.  A lot of people use the budgeting feature, but I don’t really use it because the budget is too detailed for me.


PearBudget is my absolute favorite budgeting tool, hands down.  The interface is very minimalistic and you can set it up however you want.  I LOVE that I can use my balanced money formula budget yet easily see how much I’ve spent on something like gas or dining out over time through tags.  I can also easier track cash spending.  PearBudget also gives a nice, pretty monthly review at the bottom of the page that makes it easy for me to see how much money I have left over at the end of the month.


Like J$ at Budgets are Sexy, I LOVE USAA.  Love x7413982371293129.  I’m a non-military member so I only have 2 accounts (Checking and Savings), but the level of service and their products are incredible.  I don’t pay banking fees, they always work with me through any issues I’ve had AND they refund my ATM fees.  Oh, and my direct deposit funds appear as “pending” the day before I’m supposed to get them so that they actually post on payday (instead of pending on payday, post following business day).  Since I’m not a full member (no military connection), I can’t get the awesome insurance and loans, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.


Although I do love USAA with all my heart, not being a full member means I can’t do things like check e-deposit.  Plus, I’m of the opinion that it’s a good idea to have your emergency fund separate from your daily funds.  Enter Ally!  I switched to Ally when Capital One bought ING Direct (grrrrrr), and I’ve been very pleased with them.  They have e-deposit!  For someone like me who does all my banking online, this has been absolutely vital for me.  I did open a checking account because transfers between Ally savings to checking happen same day, so IF I need to break into my emergency fund, I have a debit card that I can use to more easily access the money. Additionally, I house all my targeted savings accounts (dog fund, moving fund, eventually a car fund, etc) at Ally.  It’s super easy to open new accounts and easy to keep track of them all.

Google Docs

If you’re anything like me, you love to look at the numbers and work out how your debt is decreasing each month (or wealth increasing).  I have 2 main spreadsheets that I keep in Google Docs so I can access them from anywhere.  One I share publicly shows how much my debt is decreasing each month, the other is my behemoth master data tracker that I track my net worth, where my money is going each pay period, my monthly snowball plan, major milestones, etc.  The spreadsheet makes me really happy because I’m able to see pretty much everything in one central location.