Life Changing Financial Planning Resources for the 21st Century
By Allison Eklund, Guest Blogger
In the age of apps and the internet of things, online personal finance resources have evolved rapidly. Below are free services created to help, not hinder your personal finances.
Ever called a credit reporting agency to track your credit score? I hope you just read this and said to yourself “never.” Take it from me, don’t make this call. After spending an absurd amount of time on hold with a credit reporting company, and dropping one too many expletives to the robot on the other line who wouldn’t connect me to a real human being, I gave up and tried another route to track down my credit score.
Welcome CreditKarma, an online service meant to bring transparency and awareness to the consumer about personal credit scores. What I love about CreditKarma is 1. The ease of registration, 2. Free reporting on credit scores (typically you pay a $25.00 fee per year), and 3. The service tells you how to improve your credit and what matters most when lenders consider you. For instance, missing a payment matters way more than not having many years of credit history, but both factors are considered when having credit evaluated.
The hidden gem? CreditKarma showed me that I had a hospital bill from my freshmen year of college that had been sent to collections. How did this slip by? Like most recent college graduates, I don’t live in my college town anymore. The local hospital didn’t have my updated mailing information. Because of Credit Karma, I was able to track my credit score for free, and salvage my personal credit from a past due medical bill that I would have never known about.
Budget, budget, budget. As a financial advisor, I’m supposed to love budgets. Sigh, it’s a love hate relationship. Mint has made my life easier because it tracks my budget for me. Say what?! A free service that does the work for me? Yes.
Mint is designed to track your spending habits- it knows when you’re making it rain, and when you’re up to no good. Additionally, in a world of cyber security threats, Mint is a wonderful resource that sends you alerts when large or unusual deposits/withdraws/spending occurs.
The Hidden gem? Track all your assets in one place. You can easily calculate your estimated net worth and watch it grow by enabling Mint (powered by Intuit) to track your banking, personal investments, company 401k, your home, vehicle etc.
You can easily calculate your estimated net worth and watch it grow by enabling Mint (powered by Intuit) to track your banking, personal investments, company 401k, your home, vehicle etc.
Investopedia is a fantastic resource for financial newbs and nerds. This web resource offers simplified explanations and tutorials for everything from investing basics to more complex financial tools like derivatives and currency trading strategies.
When I started in the financial industry, I heavily relied on Investopedia to get me through some difficult certification exams. However, whether you work in finance or not, this resource offers fantastic tips for everyday investors. Note, it may sound like Wikipedia, but unlike Wiki, not anyone can add content, so feel free to site Investopedia’s content.
The hidden gem? There are over 600 educational videos that offer quick answers to all you money related questions. Here is one that simplifies the difference between a Roth and Traditional IRA: http://www.investopedia.com/video/play/roth-versus-ira/
Learning about personal finance has never been more accessible. All of these resources highlighted are free. If you’re in the mindset of, “I’ll get my finances in order later,” think twice and remember my experience with the hidden hospital bill that was sent to collections. Having money and healthy credit isn’t everything, but it gives us choices in life.
- Guest blogger Allie Eklund is a 20-something Northern California native with a degree from CSUS in political science. She ultimately favored finance as her 9 to 5, but her after hours are dedicated to InspireMidtown, a local group she founded to encourage women to lead with confidence. Adjectives Allie can’t disassociate herself with are: Passionate, practical, and conversational. Find her in Midtown enjoying a cold beer and over a deep conversation with her partner in crime, Wesley.