A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about 3 tools that can help you invest. But technology can also aide us with our day-to-day money management as well. Here are some of my favorite online tools for cash and credit management:
Are you sick of your bank’s nonexistent interest rates, poor customer service, or limitless number of fees? On this site, you can find a plethora of high-interest checking and savings accounts without minimum balances or maintenance fees, mostly from small credit unions and online banks. Aside from the hassle of changing your primary checking account, the main downside is that most of these institutions may not have branch offices near you. (I personally hate standing in line at a bank anyway and much prefer making a quick phone call or even having an instant messaging chat for any banking questions or problems I have.) You can generally deposit checks with your phone or postage-paid envelopes and many of them will also reimburse your fees if you go to another bank’s ATM.
One of the most common topics for questions I get in our workshops is managing credit. While there are some general rules of thumb, everyone’s individual situation is a bit different though. That’s where Credit Karma comes in.
With this site, you can get a free credit score, specific tips on how to improve it, and a “credit simulator” that lets you see how various actions like closing a particular credit card or opening a new one can affect your score. It can also help you find better credit cards (lower interest if you carry a balance or better rewards if you don’t) that you should be able to qualify for based on your credit score. Finally, the site even provides free credit monitoring to alert you if anything funky happens to your credit like a new line of credit (that you may not have opened) or a missed payment (from a bill that may have gone to the wrong address).
These peer-to-peer lending sites let you borrow up to $35k from other people over the Internet at interest rates that are typically lower than you’d likely get from a bank. You still have to report your debt-to-income and undergo a credit check but you can also include personal stories and other information that might cause loaners to be more lenient. You can also use the site to set up a loan from a friend or a family member.
Cost: One-time fee of around 5% plus interest
This popular cash management and budgeting site will track your balances and spending for any credit cards or bank accounts that you link to it, all in one place. You can even set it up to alert you if you start to spend more than your limit in any particular category. I don’t personally use it but countless numbers of people I’ve talked to swear by it as an easy way to keep them on top of their day-to-day spending.
This site can help reduce your ongoing bills without having to change any of your current services. The company will contact your current bill providers like your cell phone, Internet, cable or satellite, electric, gas, landline, gym, and home security providers to see if there are any discounts you can qualify for and to try to negotiate your rate down.
Cost: They keep half of whatever they save you so it won’t cost you anything if they don’t save you money. If they do, it’s basically free money.
How about you? Do you have any experiences with these or other online tools to help you manage and save money? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.