Sunday, September 9, 2012

Keeping track of your finances

I just thought I would go through some of the sites that I have found that helps you to keep track of your finances that are around on the net. All of this only applies to the US currently. Swedish people can be happy to know that in general we are way ahead of the US in both features, security and usability when it comes to online banking and trading.

The first site I want to mention is Mint. This is a great site that can not only keep track of all the transactions from all of your financial institutions (I have quite a lot of accounts spread out and so far every single one was supported by them) so that you can monitor them for fraudulent transactions easily in one place. It also shows you trends of spending and gives you tips on how you can save money based on your spending. Other features of the site is to help you keep track of bills that need to be paid and it can even help you define and keep a budget. I really can't recommend it enough. And it is all completely free!

If you want some help just keeping track of your bills there is also the site BillQ, but I would really only recommend that over Mint if you feel uncomfortable with giving Mint access to your financial accounts.

Next step of keeping track of your finances is to check and monitor your credit. The first site that is great to keep track of your running credit score is Credit Karma which will both provide you with as many updates to your credit score as you want for free and also provide you with a free credit monitoring service. Another awesome application that also provides a free credit monitoring service is LastPass which I've praised in the past for its main password protection feature.

These services will not provide you with your actual credit report though, just if a change has happened and how it affected your credit score. To get your actual credit report there is an awesome service called Quizzle that gives the ability to get a free credit report every 6 months for free with no credit card required. If you get a credit alert from one of the other services this is also the cheapest premium service for $7 per month you can get as many full credit reports as you want and you can start and end this service easily any time you want. I have cancelled this service myself after just one months of service after I discovered something weird through my credit monitoring services that I wanted to have a better look at without any problems. Can also here let you know to be aware of the common scam where sites will give you a "free" credit report, but you need to provide a credit card and they will usually sign you up to a credit protection service you didn't want (Experian are the experts of this).

Finally if you have investments there are a few sites that are great. When it comes to actual trading I haven't seen anything that comes close to E*Trade, doesn't matter if it relates to actual trading, research, customer support and dealing with taxes it is way better than the other sites I've tried (Except when it comes to fees where Wells Fargo beats them hands down). Doing research and tracking of your investment I use two sites. Yahoo! Finance has a huge amount of statistics and facts available and access to news. Google Finance have slightly less amount of statistics available, but they do have a much nicer interface and also much better real time graphs.

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