Nobody in the history of the planet has ever said they did not want to create a secure financial future.
Creating that financial future can be simple in theory but when it comes to execution, only a small percentage of people actually follow through.
If you follow a lot of personal finance blogs you probably know by now that barely over 30% of Americans have savings more than $1,000.
Of that number, 11% have between $1,000-$4,999 saved, 4 % have between $5,000 and $9,999 saved while only 15% have $10,000 or more saved. These numbers are truly abysmal but it does not need to be that way.
If you’re a part of the 70% who have less than $1,000 saved for a rainy day, the goal of today’s post is to get you to join the 30% so you too can start building a secure financial future.
We reached out to a group of financially savvy millennials to send in their favorite personal tools and these 5 came up on top.
The words “net worth” are not reserved for millionaires and billionaires only. And you don't have to guess your own net worth.
1. Personal Capital
Personal Capital allows you to calculate your net worth based on your checkings, savings, investment accounts, mortgage and loans so that at any given time, you know exactly where you stand financially.
One of the other unique things about Personal Capital is their investment analyzer. The investment analyzer will inspect your investments portfolio to make sure you are not paying ridiculous broker fees for your investments and it will help you find improvements you could make to your investment accounts to reach your money goals quicker.
Lat Tzoubari from Seven Smith had this to say about Personal Capital :
It has completely changed my life and the way I budget and manage my finances. The app syncs your credit cards and bank accounts and, if relevant, investments and loans including your mortgage. It is empowering and sobering to be able to see all of your money, income, debts and investments in one place on your phone so that you don't have to remember all of your passwords and think back to the last time you reviewed all of your financials.”
2. Birch Finance
If you use a credit card and have simply never bothered to look into the bonuses that come with your card, now is the time to start delving into the “reward/bonus” world and taking advantage of what’s available to you.
The Birch App allows you to maximize your credit card rewards and bonuses. It's important to note that the Birch App is NOT a debt payment app neither does it help you budget.
Instead, the app will analyze your credit and debit cards against a database of rewards (when you sign up for the app, you will be prompted to connect as many cards as you have) and let you know if you have maximized the rewards available for that card or not.
Furthermore, Birch will recommend the top credit cards with the best rewards that are available for your specific financial situation. You can check out my full review of Birch here.
One of the biggest financial mistakes people make is to “assume” they know what they are spending money on. The first step to taking control of your finances is to know where every penny of your money is going.
If you’re someone who likes to categorize your spending and keep tabs on which categories you’re spending your money on, Mint is a tool you will love. Each month or as often as you would like, you get a report that shows you exactly where your money is going.
You can also set up financial goals within Mint. If you want to become debt-free for instance, you can set a goal within Mint to set aside $50 each month which will then go towards your debt.
Keeping track of your finances this way will help you cut down on areas you might be overspending and direct that extra money towards your financial goals. Rikki Ayers, from the site Own Up Grown-Up, has been successfully using Mint for a while now.
As a millennial, who got herself in money-trouble in her 20s and is quickly getting out of that trouble now... I started to get really interested in the way that I could use personal finance to build wealth. I started using Mint.com to learn how meet financial goals. For me, it was getting out of debt. Now, I know exactly what I need to put away every month to meet my goal and I’m on track!”
Own Up Grown-Up
4. You Need a Budget
You Need A Budget (YNAB) is a smart tool that is built around a zero-based budget. By design, a zero-based budget is meant make sure you know where every penny you earn is going. If you earn $4000 each month, YNAB will help you set the kind of budget that makes it certain that your income is equal to your expenses.
Tracking your spending this way (if you do it honestly) will give you a good idea of where you might be overspending so you can trim those expenses and possibly put that money towards debt payment , save the money or invest it.
If you’re a student and you write to firstname.lastname@example.org with proof that you are indeed a student - your student ID card, transcripts or some other proof of current enrollment in school - you will be able to use YNAB for free for 12 months.
If you’re not a student, you can still use YNAB for free for 34 days and then have to pay the annual $50 to use the tool.
A tool that is similar to YNAB, which is free, is EveryDollar.
Qapital is an app that allows you to choose your goals and set up rules or event triggers that will allow money to be deposited into your Qapital account. The app is FDIC-insured so you can rest easy.
We recently ranked Qapital #1 as one of the best automatic money saving apps available because of how easy it is to setup rules to save.
Kevin, who blogs at Financial Panther, has found success by using the Qapital app.
You can read our full Qapital review here.
I use this app every day. Best feature : the round up rule. Qapital will monitor all your credit card transactions and round up each transaction to the nearest dollar, and save the difference for you. This has helped me save a ton over the past years.
Have you ever tried any of these personal finance tools before? Which one is your favorite?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.