Ask the Readers: What Are the Best Online Personal Finance Tools?

There are tons of personal finance tools out there now.  I’ve tried a whole bunch, some that I’ve liked and some that haven’t caught on with me. But I’m always curious if there’s anything great out there that I’m missing. Here are some that I like best:

Credit Karma – This is my favorite way to get a truly free credit score (no credit card required). It’s not a FICO credit score, but you get a Transunion score, which is often very close to your FICO score. You can check your credit score any time with Credit Karma, and it’s super easy to use.

Tax Slayer – I’ve filed my taxes with Tax Slayer for the last 4 years and have always found it easy.  It’s a good deal cheaper than Turbo Tax (I paid $20 where Turbo Tax would’ve been over $100) and produces the same results.  Tax Slayer doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Turbo Tax does, but it suits my needs just fine.

Google Docs – Although not technically a personal finance tool, Google Docs are so versitile that there’s a lot you can do here. Personally, I use Google Docs to track my spending.  I found a great monthly budget template, and I like using Google Docs because I can easily access it from anywhere that I have internet.

Award Wallet – This might not quite qualify, but I use this to track my frequent flyer miles that I earn from the Travel Hacking Cartel. It’s free and it’s easy to see what I have available for miles as well as when they expire.

I like the idea of Mint, but I’m not ready to add it to my list just yet.  I currently don’t use Mint myself (that might be shocking to some), but I’m planning to give it another serious try soon. I’m also curious is Adaptu (disclosure: I’m a freelance writer there) takes off and gives Mint a run for it’s money. Adaptu has more of a community approach, which I like, and some other cool features, too. (I’ll have some sort of review and comparison of each soon).

Here’s my question for you:

What tools do you recommend? These could be websites or iPhone applications or anything like that.

Are there any sites you don’t recommend?

Share your advice in the comments below.

Update:

Here’s some of my favorites, submitted by the readers (so far):

TaxACT Online (from Georgene)

Amazon Cloud Drive (from Ross at GoBeRich)

Yodlee (from Justin at Money is the Root)

Ashley from Money Talks and Dave from Money in the 20s have both tried Mint (like me) but have also chosen to stick with spreadsheets. However, No Debt MBA still uses Mint.

Money in Your 20s recommends SmartyPig to save and earn interest.

Comments

  1. I’ve found Mint and Google docs to both be really helpful.  I use Mint to track my spending and Google Docs to keep track of spending between my SO and I (we split everything down the middle).  Google Docs is also really helpful any time my SO and I want to something jointly like a budget, projection, planning or anything else.

    I use TurboTax but split the cost three ways with my parents and SO and file my state taxes by hand.  Maybe we’ll have to look into Tax Slayer for next year.

  2. I’ve found Mint and Google docs to both be really helpful.  I use Mint to track my spending and Google Docs to keep track of spending between my SO and I (we split everything down the middle).  Google Docs is also really helpful any time my SO and I want to something jointly like a budget, projection, planning or anything else.

    I use TurboTax but split the cost three ways with my parents and SO and file my state taxes by hand.  Maybe we’ll have to look into Tax Slayer for next year.

    • Yea I noticed that Turbo Tax was more expensive for state returns, and I needed to file in 2 states.  I’m not sure what the price difference would be in your situation, but it might be worth checking out Tax Slayer. It’s also free to start a tax return on both, so you can compare results (that’s what I did)

  3. I have a a mint account, but I don’t really use it anymore.  I do all of my tacking on spreadsheets now.  It seems there is always a problem with Mint.  As soon as they fix the connection with one of my banks, credit cards, or brokerages then another stops working.  It started to get really frustrating to me!

  4. I signed up for mint a couple of months ago and thought it was really cool… but I stick with my spreadsheet for budgeting and tracking.  I do like being able to go to one place and see all my balances though.  I still use it for that. 

    I’m so old school with my budgeting, I really don’t use any websites.  But I’m curious to know what others find helpful.

  5. Georgene Harkness says:

    I use TaxAct Online for my tax return.  As a CPA, I can tell you:  it’s good.  And it has another great feature – it’s Free for Federal.  There is a charge for State, but I live on a state that doesn’t have personal income tax.  Yay!

    For keeping up with financial stuff, I use Dropbox….not strictly a financial tool, but I can save my spreadsheets in Dropbox, share them with my husband, and use them from all four of my computers.  That, combined with Open Office, makes low-cost financial planning and upkeep easy. (I have tried using Google Docs but it seems there’s always SOMETHING it won’t do…very frustrating.)

    • I’ll definitely have to check out TaxAct Online.  I really love DropBox, too, although I can’t think of anything financial I currently use it for.  Still, I definitely recommend it.

  6. I’m old-school as well, it’s all about Excel for me. Just one simple spreadsheet that has everything I need, my monthly budget, a sheet to track my spending for the month, a list of my accounts and their URLs and passwords, and another sheet for notes and such.

    I’ve recently started using Amazon’s online Cloud Storage service, which has eliminated the need for me to constantly E-mail my budget and other stuff back and forth between home and work.

  7. Mint is decent, but their recommendations are biased towards their sponsors, and I often find they dont have much real benefit.  I think Yodlee is a better budgeting and financial mgmt tool, check that one out.

  8. I use Quicken every day. All our transaction are uploaded, and I download market prices in the evening to update our investments. It’s a great way for us (as a couple) to keep our finances transparent; there are no money secrets in a happy relationships. As much as Intuit customer service drives me nuts, I think they have a solid product in Quicken personal financial management software.

  9. I use “Google Docs” for spreadsheets.
    Before i was using an application on office’s computer. This way i was unable to edit or review my spreadsheets outside office. From time to time i just copy the spreadsheet on my memory stick and continue editing at home but in most cases i forgot to do it…
    Now with my spreadsheets “on the cloud” i can edit and review everywhere.
    And believe me my best ideas about budgeting and other money issues come outside office!

  10. Jenna Adaptu Community Manager says:

    Thanks for mentioning Adaptu!  Definitely recommend using Adaptu to get a better understanding of your personal finances!

  11. Great list Jeffrey- I hadn’t heard of tax slayer or award wallet, I’ll definitely check them out.

    Another tool I’ve found helpful is SmartyPig. It’s a goal oriented savings site that lets you automatically save money towards specific goals you set. It has made saving for vacation and trips much easier for me since you can set it to automatically pull money from your account at regular intervals. It also has one of the best interest rates I’ve found for savings (around 1.3% right now).

    It’s also a great tool for learning to live below your means. I have some goal drafts set to the day after my direct deposit payments so that I barely see that money in my account. I’ve learned to live off less than I’m making and I’ve been able to make some great progress towards short and long-term goals.

  12. To be honest, my online banking is far and away #1. Being able to check my balance at all times puts me in control, and being able to pay bills online, transfer to savings on a whim, all add to the appeal. I only started banking online within the past year so it’s still a little novel, but I love it and wonder how I went so long without it.

    • That’s great. I think you’re right. I do almost all my banking online now, and I’m always surprised to hear from others that don’t utilize that feature.

  13. I use Yodlee, Mint and PageOnce. Yodlee has been operating since the 90’s. Yodlee itself is not interested in hawking your data to sponsors the way Mint does. However if you use Yodlee’s service via a financial institution like Wells Fargo or Fidelity, then it’s a different story. PageOnce does a better job than Yodlee telling you your usage with your mobile phone company, so that you don’t incur overage charges. Mint doesn’t help at all in this regard.
     
    I like Mint for its app, but it’s all too obvious that when I enter a manual transaction from my iPhone, they using us to prospect for small businesses to become Intuit customers by geotagging every entry. Think of this as a forced Foursquare check-in. I now have to turn location services off for Mint.
     

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