Managing your finances is one of the most important things you can do to get ahead and stay ahead of the financial curve. Several years ago, money management software was dominated by Quicken and Microsoft Money, both of which were only offered in desktop versions you had to purchase. Microsoft later shut down MS Money, and Quicken dominated the scene. Quicken is still around, but now there are many free Quicken alternatives available, some of which offer additional features and benefits not offered by Quicken.
Thankfully there are some excellent, and free, online tools to help you to quickly and easily manage your finances. Here, we will cover the best free online money management tools to help you organize and manage your finances, investments, credit scores, and financial documents.
Qualifications for this list. The following online money management tools are listed because they meet several criteria, namely, they are free, online, and they are secure.
In most cases the companies use the same standards as required for online banking, and in some cases offer a higher level of security.
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Financial Money Management Tools – Account Aggregators
The easiest way to manage your money is to see everything in one place. That is where these account aggregators come into play. The following tools allow you to track your finances in one place.
Most of them will securely log in to your financial accounts, download your recent transactions and balances, and display that information so you can see how much money you have, how much you owe, how your investments are doing, and when your bills are due.
Then you can use this information to make informed decisions and create a budget that works for you.
Personal Capital – Best Financial Account Aggregator; Best Investing App
Personal Capital. This is the most versatile money management tool I’ve come across. At a top level, Personal Capital helps you track your income and spending, and will allow you to track your credit cards and similar accounts. You can even use it to send reminders for your credit card due dates. But this tool really shines when you use it for tracking your investments.
Opening a Personal Capital account gives you in-depth access to understanding what your investments are and how they interact with each other. This is especially useful if you hold investments in multiple locations, or if your portfolio is comprised of multiple mutual funds.
With Personal Capital, you can understand how these investments work together and help determine whether or not you are over or under-exposed in any asset class based on your goals, age, and risk tolerance. This tool can help you manage your 401k, IRAs, mutual funds, individual stocks, and other investments.
This free investment software is recommended for investors of all experience levels, from beginners to experts, and for investors with any size portfolio. Overall, this is the most powerful personal finance tool I’ve come across and one I use personally. Read our Personal Capital review for more information.
Mint.com – Best Budgeting App
Mint.com. Mint has taken the financial community by storm, and for good reason. Mint offers a great money management tool, and it is completely free. Mint’s business model is to bring in users with a quality product, analyze their spending, saving, and other financial habits, and offer suggestions for improvements, including showing users how much money they could save or earn by using credit card with a lower interest rate, earning higher interest from a bank account, buying a less expensive cable service, and other ideas.
Mint.com is able to offer a free product because they make money by referring products and services to customers, but they always show you how much money you can save or earn and why it would be a good idea to do so. You can’t turn the ads off, but you can always ignore them, which is a small price to pay for a quality financial management product.
Mint is designed primarily to track cash flow and budgeting, and recently added the ability to track investments. Mint also offers apps for the Android, iPad, and iPhone platforms.
Get started: Visit Mint.com for more information or to open an account.
Many people like to compare Mint.com and Personal Capital. In my opinion, Mint.com is the better budgeting tool and Personal Capital is better at just about everything else. Personal Capital also offers a budgeting and cash flow management tool, it’s just not quite as robust as Mint.com You can read our Mint.com and Personal Capital comparison review for more information about the similarities and differences between these two financial apps.
Yodlee – Best No Frills Account Aggregator
Yodlee. Yodlee is one of the oldest and most comprehensive online money management programs. Yodlee differs from most of the other tools listed here because it is not a cash flow or budgeting tool – it is a one stop shop to track your financial health and offers “a consolidated view of all assets… from accounts such as brokerage, insurance, 401(k), mortgage, etc.”
Being able to track your entire net worth online is a great feature, but Yodlee offers much more than just tracking net worth. Users can create a budget and track spending, monitor online accounts, create expense analysis charts, track real estate value, or share access to your account (great to share info with your spouse, accountant, or financial planner).
Customers can transfer funds, pay any biller or individual, pay bills via credit and debit card, receive eBills from over 2,900 institutions, create transaction alerts, set up mobile access and more. To top it off, Yodlee is one of the most secure online money management tools out there.
Other notable options:
- moneyStrands: Web-based money management tool that automatically gathers data for financial accounts, including savings, checking, and credit cards, providing users with an up-to-date view of their finances. moneyStrands stands out from the crowd by allowing users to sync data from non US banks. They support 44 world currencies and the tools is in both English and Spanish.
- BudgetPulse.com: BudgetPulse.com also offers another layer of protection between their application and the user’s account information: “For security reasons, we do not and have no intention to link direct to users’ banking account data.” BudgetPulse also supports tracking your finances in multiple foreign currencies, making this an ideal option for someone living in another country.
- Quicken: If you are looking for a more powerful platform including tracking your investments, net worth, and other assets, then check out Quicken’s desktop version. It’s not as convenient as the online money management software, but some people prefer that it is a stand alone program that doesn’t store your information in the cloud.
Free Online Investing Tools
The above tools are great for financial management, but sometimes you want a tool that is designed specifically for tracking investments. The following tools are great tools for investors of all levels (and of course, they are free!):
Personal Capital – Best Free Online Investing Tool
Personal Capital. This tool makes our list twice – as one of the best overall tools for money management, and for tracking your income and spending. But this tool is also the best free portfolio management software program I’ve come across.
The primary benefit is being able to see all of your investment accounts in one location, as well as being able to see how each account impacts your overall asset allocation. This helps you identify and resolve overlapping investments to ensure your asset allocation meets your desired risk tolerance.
To top it off, the Personal Capital software can show you how much you are paying in investment management fees. This can help you find lower cost investment alternatives to help you keep your investments within your risk band, but keep more of your own money in your pocket.
Future Advisor – Best Investment Recommendation Tool
FutureAdvisor. FutureAdvisor is a free financial management tool that aggregates your investment accounts and makes recommendations to help you reach your financial goals. FutureAdvisor offers two plan levels, free and Premium. The free plan gives you access to a portfolio review and investment recommendations. In the Premium plan, FutureAdvisor makes the recommendations, and the trades, for you. (Investment advisory fees are well below industry averages).
Here is how it works: you open a secure account, link your financial accounts, and FutureAdvisor will analyze your portfolio and make recommendations based on your current holdings, risk tolerance, and investment time frame. Their software only recommends low-cost ETFs and index funds, similar to what you might find in a lifecycle fund.
Their software also makes recommendations for which holdings should be in tax-deferred retirement accounts, and which should be held in taxable investment accounts. If you take part in their premium offer, you will also have access to tax-loss harvesting in your taxable portfolio.
Users have the ability to link their 401k to their account, and FutureAdvisor will make recommendations to optimize the holdings within your 401k plan, along with the rest of your investment portfolio. This feature isn’t available for every 401k plan right now, but FutureAdvisor is constantly adding new 401k plans to their list. This is a feature I haven’t seen elsewhere, and very useful, as many companies ignore 401k plans, which are often the largest holdings in people’s portfolios! Visit our FutureAdvisor.com review to learn more.
Morningstar – Best Investment Research Tool
Morningstar. Morningstar is well-known within the investor community for offering extensive research and investment tools. The free Morningstar membership features investment tools and data, newsletters, and online investing courses to help you become a better investor. The most popular Morningstar tools is the X-Ray tool, which is similar to the tool offered by Personal Capital. The Morningstar X-Ray tool is part of their premium subscription, which requires a monthly or annual fee. I still recommend Morningstar for the serious investor. You can learn more at www.morningstar.com.
Other notable options:
- Vanguard: Vanguard customers can track their investments held at other brokerages to get an overview of their total holdings and analyze their portfolios. This is a good tool if you are already a Vanguard customer.
- Ally Invest (Formerly TradeKing): TradeKing features in depth stock analysis, online videos and tutorials, and a community where you can learn from others. The available tools and low stock trades make this one of the best discount brokerages.
- Be sure to check with your brokerage or bank for similar tools.
Free Tools to Track and Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score is one of the most important aspects of your financial health. A good credit score can help you get approved for a loan and save thousands of dollars in interest payments. On the flip side, a bad credit score can prevent you from getting a loan, cost you thousands extra in interest payments, and make it more difficult to rent a house, get a job, or even be approved for a cell phone contract. Here are two companies that offer free credit scores and tools for tracking and improving your credit scores (and by free, we mean, no trials, no need to give them your credit card number. It is truly free!):
Credit Karma: Credit Karma provides users with information found in their TransUnion credit report. Credit Karma tracks your open lines of credit, credit limits, inquiries, debt to income ratio, and more, to assign a credit risk they call the TransRisk Credit Score.
Users are given recommendations on how to improve their credit score, and are sent notifications with each change to their history or credit score, making this a good way to monitor your credit score. Visit Credit Karma to learn more, or to open an account.
Credit Sesame: Like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame gives users a credit report and score, but theirs is based on credit information from your Experian credit profile. Credit Sesame allows users to track the information in their credit report, open lines of credit, outstanding debt, and more.
You can use this information to get a good idea of your credit score, and use the recommendations to help improve your credit score. Visit Credit Sesame to learn more, or to open an account.
Which is the Best Online Money Management Tool?
Like everything else, it depends on your wants and needs. Here are my choices for each class:
- Account Aggregation: Personal Capital.
- Investing Tool: Personal Capital.
- Budgeting: Mint.com
- Free Credit Scores and Monitoring: Credit Karma and Credit Sesame (tie).
My thoughts. These online money management programs are great tools and offer customers differing abilities to track their finances. Some offer a comprehensive overview, while others are more specialized. Give them a try, and see if you like them. Best case scenario, you can improve how you manage your budget, investments, credit score, and record keeping – all for the low cost of free.