This week, several of the planners are discussing our favorite financial resources. In writing this, I realized how difficult it is to pick just one. So here are some of the sites that I most often like to share with people (all free of course):
EarlyRetirementExtreme.com: This blog completely changed my whole perspective on personal finance by sharing the details of how real people have become financially independent in just a few years through extreme saving. While it may not be reasonable for most people to live like they do on the blog, it can help you move closer in that direction.
SSA.gov: Have you ever wondered what happened to those Social Security statements you used to get every year about 3 months before your birthday? Well, like so many other things, they’ve gravitated online. Not only does this save the program some much needed money, but you can now model more scenarios. The only downside is that if you have to take initiative to go on the site rather than just wait for the statement in the mail.
ESPlanner.com: This site offers one of, if not the most, comprehensive financial planning programs. In particular, it allows you to see how much you should spend and save each year to smoothen your living standard, which is how many economists argue that financial planning should be done. The full program costs money but they make a scaled down version available for free on this site.
DepositAccounts.com: There are lots of sites that allow you to compare bank interest rates, but I’ve found the best deals on this site. I particularly recommend this section on rewards checking accounts that lets you see the top accounts based on what state you live in and how much you expect to deposit.
Craigslist.com: It may not be a “financial” site but considering that I got my apartment, my roommates, and my car off Craigslist, it’s probably saved me more money than any other site. In fact, I could have even gotten my job on Craigslist since our company advertises for positions there. Use it to find great bargains, especially on high ticket items in your local area.
Mint.com: This site helps you keep track of multiple accounts by consolidating and categorizing all of your expenses online and even letting you know if you come close or exceed your target spending in a particular area. It also has iOS and Android apps for your smartphone. I have to confess that I barely use the site myself but I know so many people who do so regularly and swear by it. Whether you use it or one of their competitors, the important thing is that you have a system to track and manage your spending since that’s the foundation of all the rest of your financial planning.
CreditKarma.com: This site is known for providing a free look at your credit score. Given that it’s not the FICO score that most institutions use, the value of that is dubious though. Instead, I find the main value in being able to model various actions to see how they would affect your score and the free credit monitoring that they provide. If you don’t have credit monitoring, you run the risk of not spotting a potential identity theft until it’s too late. If you do, you can drop that credit monitoring service and use the savings for something else.
MyTaxBurden: This site by the nonpartisan tax foundation lets you estimate your tax liability based on your sources of income, your deductions, and which tax policy proposals are enacted.
Nolo.com: Although the site sells legal books and software programs, there’s a ton of useful information there, including ways to avoid probate in each state.
Term4Sale.com: Since this site doesn’t sell life insurance, it includes no-load insurers and has been described as the most comprehensive site to search for term life insurance.
What about you? Do you have any favorite financial sites that have been helpful for you? If so, share them in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for new ones to add to my list.