The most important thing that you can do in terms of personal finance is to get organized. If you are able to manage and organize your finances then you will be able to budget, save, invest, pay off debt and take care of any other money issues that you’d like to take care of. In order to do that, you need to have the right tools. Those tools include tools to track spending, budget your money and grow your money with investments.
The top ten tools that you need to better manage your personal finances are:
1. Money tracking tools. You cannot take care of your financial situation until you know exactly where your money is going. That’s why the most important tool in your personal finance toolbox is a money tracking tool. You may want to use a phone app that helps you track your spending. Alternatively you could use an online money tracker.
2. Budgeting tool. In order to reduce debt and create savings, you need to be able to budget. Luckily there are many budgeting tools that can help you to create and stick to a budget. Sites like MoneyStrands and BudgetPulse are options that you can consider when looking for an online budgeting tool.
3. Online payment tool. You can make sure that you are never late with your bill payments by using an online payment tool. Many people use the bill pay tool that is available through the bank where they have their checking account.
4. Bill tracker. You may want to use this instead of or in addition to an online payment tool to make sure that you are keeping track of all of your bills. This can help you see when bills are due so you can budget accordingly. BillQ is an example of such a tool. This is a good option if you have random regular bills in addition to your credit cards, utilities and loans (such as a personal loan from a friend that you are paying off).
5. Income tracker. You don’t want to only track your bills and expenses. You want to also track your income. This gives you a good total financial picture so that you can get control of your personal finances. One example if a phone-based income tracker is the iWallet app.
6. Goal tracker. The best way to control your personal finances is to set goals and meet them. You want to set both small and large goals. Goal tracker tools are a great way to keep you on track with your personal finance goals. Consider forming a personal finance group (such as a Facebook group or Google Group) to share goals with others and hold yourself accountable to meeting those goals. Yodlee provides goal tracking features along with other tools or if you do not want extensive tools you can use a simple personal finance tracker spreadsheet
7. Invoice management tools. It is very common today for people to do at least part-time work for which they invoice. Maybe you do freelance writing or perhaps you run a small store. You want to make sure that you have a clear system for invoicing so that you get all of the money that you’re supposed to get. You can use something as simple as PayPal or use a more detailed invoicing tool such as FreshBooks or SimplyBill
8. Online payment tools. In addition to sending out invoices, you may need to make payments online. You’ll want to choose a tool that helps you keep organized track of your payments. Your online bank account or a site like PayPal would be good for this. Another option is MoneyRevolution
9. Investment tools. You want to grow your money over time. You can do this with a basic savings account but it’s better to learn about stock markets and other big investment options. There are many different investment tools available to help you. GStock, Yahoo! Finance and Google Finance are good places to start getting information. After that you can branch into the apps and sites that are specific to your investment interests
10. Lending tools There will be times when you need to get loans. Make sure that you have tools for that at your disposal. Consider social lending sites like Lending Club as well as more traditional options like banks and credit cards
Notably there are some tools available that will combine these individual tools into a single program. Mint.com is a great example of such a whole-approach tool that you can use to better manage your personal finances. Green Sherpa and Buxfer are similar options to consider.
Mitch blogs over at CAD.org, a site providing development & cloud computing advice.