Forty-one percent of Americans spend less than their yearly income. But an almost equal 36 percent spend the equivalent of their paycheck. That leaves 19 percent of Americans left spending more than they make, meaning over half of us may need help with our budgeting and spending habits.1
The problem of choosing when to spend and when to save isn’t a new issue in America by any means. But the good news is that today’s savvy savers are leveraging top software applications to help keep their family’s money on track. Knowing which apps to download and trust bring more questions than answers.
There are many different strategies for budgeting, and the best approach will depend on your individual situation. Some people opt to track their expenses closely with a spreadsheet or app to see where their money is going each month. Others prefer to set strict limits on their spending and keep a detailed record of everything they buy. No matter your preferred method of budgeting, Griffin, Austin, and I are here to outline four free online finance tools to help you along your path to financial success.
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting app available. And it’s easy to see why – it’s free to use, as a product of Intuit, the makers of TurboTax and Quickbooks, it connects directly with your bank account, credit cards, investment accounts, loans, and more to track spending and income, and provides helpful insights and tips to keep you on track.
This app offers almost everything any family would need to start budgeting and staying organized with their day-to-day finances. You can use it to create a budget, track your expenses, alert you when a bill is due, monitor your investments, and more. As far as budgeting, this app can automatically categorize a transaction you’ve made (assuming you’ve linked that account to the software) to help give you important oversight into your spending habits and understand where you may be able to save.
Mint features include:
- Web-based automatic updates and categorization based on transactions
- Investment monitoring
- Credit checks
- Automatic alerts for going over budget
- Dashboard to view overall cash flow or breakdown by category
- Ability to set goals and create budget subcategories
- IOS, Android, and desktop compatibility
If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with budgeting, Mint is definitely a great option. Whether you’re new to managing your finances or just want a little help staying organized, Mint makes it simple and straightforward to start budgeting today. So why wait? Try it out and see how much easier budgeting can be with Mint!
2.) Check Your Credit Score & Credit Report
Costs: Free on an annual basis
Credit score and credit report are two important things that you should check on an annual basis. This helps prevent fraud, gives you insight into your accounts and credit rating, addresses any damaging accounts to your credit score, and more. There are several free websites where you can check your credit score or report such as Free Credit Report or Annual Credit Report. Be sure to view the 3 credit bureaus of your report.
A credit score is a number that reflects the risk level of lending you money or approving you for a line of credit. A credit report is a history of your borrowing and repayment habits. Lenders use this information when considering whether to lend you money, how much money to lend you, and what interest rate to charge you.
You should check your credit score and credit report annually to make sure there are no fraudulent activities on your accounts. By checking your credit score and report regularly, you can catch any errors or discrepancies quickly and take steps to address them. This will help improve your credit score over time.
There are several free websites where you can check your credit score or report, such as freecreditreport.com. Be sure to view the 3 credit bureaus of your report in order to get a complete picture of your financial history.
Checking your credit score and report regularly is an important part of maintaining good financial health. By taking these steps, you can help prevent fraud and keep track of your borrowing and repayment habits. This knowledge will give you the insights and tools you need to successfully manage your finances. So be sure to check your credit score and report frequently, and stay on top of your financial health!
You can also learn more about credit reports on the Federal Trade Commission website and check out their video below.
3.) Online Financial Calculators
When it comes to making large financial decisions, it's important to have all the facts and figures at your fingertips. And one of the best ways to do that is to use a financial calculator.
There are plenty of different financial calculators available online, from banks and credit unions to real estate agents and even 401k providers. So no matter what kind of calculation you need to make - whether it's for a mortgage, a loan, or an investment - you should be able to find a calculator that suits your needs to provide you with a good estimate to help you with budgeting.
Here at MBE Wealth, we're happy to help our clients with all their financial needs, including calculations. So if you're not sure where to start, just give us a call and we'll be happy to help.
Financial calculators can be found on your bank website when calculating a mortgage or a consumer loan for a car or other large purchases. Your real estate agent may also offer a mortgage calculator on their website or you can rely on your bank, credit union, or mortgage broker to have an online tool to identify an estimated cost. If you have a 401k or retirement plan through your work your plan provider may also offer a financial calculator on their website to help you calculate your potential investment when it matures in a certain number of years.
Using a financial calculator is a great way to get an estimate of what your future payments might be, and it can help you make informed decisions about your finances. So whether you're looking to buy a new home, finance a car, or invest for retirement, be sure to take advantage of the online financial calculators that are available to you.
We at MBE Wealth, we're always here to help you with reaching your financial goals. So if you need any assistance with calculations or anything else, please don't hesitate to give us a call. We'd be happy to get to know you and your goals!
4.) MBE Wealth Online Resources
We know education is the key to success, so we try to provide as many resources as possible on our website to help not only our clients, but also anyone who may be looking for additional help. We've created a whole catalog of documents, podcasts, videos, and blogs, that live here on this very website to allow our visitors access to anything that interests them or what they would like to learn more about.
Wealth accumulation and management is a complex topic, which is why we're committed to providing our visitors with as much information as possible. To start, our blog is a great, free, online resource for anyone looking to learn more about wealth accumulation and management strategies. We cover a wide range of topics on our blog, from investment tips and tricks to estate planning advice. No matter what your wealth accumulation goals are, we have something for you.
We not only focus on investments, but take a holistic approach and discuss other very important aspects such as insurance, budgets, wills, fraud protection, loans, taxes, and more. As personal advisors to your financial goals, we can't leave those other factors out of discussion, it wouldn't be in your or our best interest to help you on your path to success. To find our blog posts visit Our Thoughts on the top left of our home page.
If you're tight on time or just prefer to watch a short clip., we've now started supplementing our blog articles with more videos to get you the information you want and need. Yours truly is also starring or co-starring in many of them! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive regular updates when we publish new videos.
Another great resource we take pride in is our podcast Money Speaks. Financial Advisor, Mike Pruitt, CFP, RICP, and our other MBE Wealth Financial Advisors cover various topics from the importance of pairing with a fiduciary to financial savings and more.
Last, but certainly not least, follow us on social media. On Facebook and LinkedIn, we post updates about all our blog posts, as well as other tips, reminders, and other updates that you will find helpful.
Check back often for new content, or subscribe to our RSS feed to make sure you never miss a post. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me– I'm always happy to help!
AUTHORED BY BAYLEE SHIFFLET - ASSOCIATE FINANCIAL ADVISOR