The Internet is a great place to find all kinds of free tools to do pretty much anything you want to do, including learning how to manage your spending. In fact, you may have seen so many cool tools all over the Internet that you may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all. Not to worry though. We’ve gone through the online tools and picked out five of the best to help you control your spending and manage your money:
Of all the web tools available for money management, few are as good as Mint. This website, owned by Quicken, offers a complete set of money management tools to help you build and stick with a budget. The site also includes features to let you track your expenses, plan goals, including savings goals for the future and generally manage your money.
They also offer apps for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad, Ipod) devices so there’s no reason that you can’t keep up with your finances wherever you happen to be. And did we mention, it’s 100% free? Yep, sometimes the best things in life really are free. Go and check it out right now.
Not so much a tool to help you manage your spending as much as a tool to help you save money for whatever you want to buy, SmartyPig is one of our favorite sites. Basically, what SmartyPig does it to let you save up money for specific items that you would like to purchase. This means that you can plan large purchases sensibly rather than simply winging it.
Plus (and this is the best part), if you save up your money in a SmartyPig account, you can redeem the cash for a gift card at specific stores which will then get you an even better deal than you otherwise would have gotten. Some stores offer as much as 14% extra meaning that if you saved up $1,000 to make a purchase at LL Bean, you could actually get $1,140 to make your purchases there (they have other stores as well, but the highest payout is 14% extra for LL Bean. The lowest is Toys ‘R Us with just 1% extra. You can also get the cash on a Visa gift card at no charge to use wherever Visa is accepted).
Annual Credit Report is a great service which is mandated by the Federal government and paid for by the credit reporting agencies, including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The service lets you get a free credit report each year. Now while it won’t directly help you to manage your spending, knowing what’s in your credit report will help you indirectly. That’s because the amount of interest you’ll pay for credit card debt depends on what’s in that credit report.
Many banks offer this service now; so does PayPal. Basically, the idea is that you pay yourself first so that you spend less money and you have more put aside. All you have to do is to set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account each month which goes to your savings account. It’s a great way to manage your spending because you know that the money you need to save has already been deducted and can be treated by a monthly bill.
The Stock Market Game
Finally, managing your spending means more than just avoiding wasting money when you go grocery shopping. It also means knowing how to invest your money so that you don’t go broke. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re qualified to invest in the stock market yet, try a stock market game (several are available, though we linked to is a good one from Investopedia above). They give you $100,000 of virtual money which you can “invest” and try to make grow. Since no real money is actually at stake, you can feel free to try out investing and then, when you’re ready, you can invest real money and manage your spending on investments effectively.
George Gallagher is a personal finance writer. He also works with students headed to college in the fall to find the best private student loans