Personal finance is easier today than ever with all of the new tools at our fingertips: budgeting apps, spending trackers, online bill pay and financial literacy games.
Personal Finance Tools & Tips
Personal finance calculators will help you make better decisions when it comes to consolidating your debt, buying a home or financing an automobile.
InCharge Debt Solutions publishes free financial literacy eBooks. These books are designed to help you improve your situation so that you can achieve your financial goals.
Personal Finance Concepts
The stuff they should have taught you in school.
Often, the difference between paying more for everything from purchases charged on a credit card to car and homeowner’s insurance is personal finance knowledge.
Knowing how to maximize your credit score, clean up your credit history, cut your expenses and pay down your debts will save you thousands of dollars. Just like any other problem in life, the key to resolving a financial mess is to study it, form a game plan, and act. We hope this library of personal finance resources and tools will help you get started toward a future free from financial stress.
Personal finance is easier today with all of the new tools at our fingertips. We have budgeting apps and spending trackers; we can pay our bills online; there are games that teach financial literacy.
In other words, there are a ton of resources that will help increase financial literacy for you and your family. Here is a look at a few of them and how they can improve your life.
Personal Finance Calculators
If you’re struggling with decisions on consolidating debt, purchasing a home or financing an automobile, these personal finance calculators will put you on the right path. It’s a good step toward helping you understand where your money is going, while teaching you the effect of the interest rate, loan term and principle.
For debt consolidation, you can compute a monthly payment and figure out when you can pay off your credit card. How much home can you really afford? Crunch the numbers and see. Also check out what your monthly auto loan payments should look.
You’ll also learn if your monthly budget is on the mark — first, making sure the expenses don’t exceed income — and whether you’re saving enough for retirement.
Personal Finance Games
Building financial literacy for our children is a necessary and worthy goal. Teachers and parents will love money games, which build and test financial knowledge through interactive tools.
You can zoom ahead to retirement — zooming through 35 years in a few blinks of the eye — and see how if there’s an appropriate payoff with your strategies for debt payment, saving and managing investments. Using a football motif, you can become a winner by having the proper money management skills. Who can resist trying to score touchdowns by answering some financial questions?
Younger children (ages 4-6) will get experience counting and sorting coins. They can then mature into another game (for ages 7-12), which shows how their life decisions affect a virtual bank account.
Need to beef up your base of financial knowledge? InCharge Debt Solutions publishes free personal financial e-books, which are available for IOS and Android devices via iTunes and Amazon.
We have books that will walk you through the worlds of using credit and managing your debt, while teaching you how to improve your credit score through a series of easy-to-follow practical tips. If you’re divorced, we can teach you how that affects your credit, along with basic tips and steps to help your credit score.
For military personnel, we provide information to maximize the homeownership financial issues of service members and veterans. We also have a book that shows how to transfer your military experience and skills into a productive civilian life.
Diagnose My Debt
InCharge Debt Solutions has an app for iPhone and Android users — Diagnose My Debt — that teaches you debt relief options based on your income, credit report and monthly cash flow.
After looking at your financial situation, you’ll receive a debt relief recommendation based on what you can afford.
You might be directed to a debt management program, debt settlement, bankruptcy, a home equity loan or a do-it-yourself approach. It’s all based on your income, debts and expenses.
Best Personal Finance Apps
Our world has gotten a lot smaller — specifically, about the size of a smartphone.
Is there anything we can’t command on our phones? They dictate our personal communication. They help us with work. They give us weather alerts. They play our favorite music. They tell us real-time sports scores.
And they help to manage our personal finance as well.
Whether it’s managing money, creating a budget or making investment decisions, there are a plethora of personal finance tools on the market.
Here are some of the best:
The Mint app is a great resource for creating a budget, tracking your spending and making smart financial decisions. It connects all your bank and credit card accounts, plus your monthly bills. Talk about a one-stop resource. Mint keeps you apprised of your bills — what you owe, when it’s due and what you can pay — along with sending some payment reminders. It tracks your spending habits and gives you budget advice. And it even offers free access to your credit score.
If your situation is more dire, look to the You Need A Budget app (also known as YNAB). It helps you discover what must be done differently to balance your budget, getting you out of the paycheck-to-paycheck rut and teaching you how to deal with unexpected expenses. Basically, you don’t spend what you don’t have. You must live within your actual income. It features online classes with a live instructor for Q&A topics. YNAB says its average user pays off $500 in debt during the first month.
For tracking expenses, the Wally app is a great organizer. Remember those work expense reports? Wouldn’t it be great to have the same system for personal expense tracking? That’s Wally — a clean, convenient and streamlined app that lets you take a photo of your receipts and uses the geo-location function on your device. It’s a very efficient way to see where all your money is going.
The Acorns app puts your pocket change to work. When you make purchases with a card connected to the app, Acorns rounds it up to the next highest dollar and automatically invests the difference in a portfolio of low-cost, exchanged-traded funds that are based on your risk preference. It could add up to a few hundred dollars — maybe even more than $1,000 — in your investment account. Acorns has a $1 monthly fee, but it’s free for college students.
InCharge also offers an Interactive Budget Worksheet that will give you a clear picture of your monthly financial situation. It allows you to track your monthly income, along with expenses for housing, transportation, utilities, food, health and personal expenses, plus monthly giving, debt payments and savings. That leads to your bottom line, the monthly cash flow.
The Best Online Personal Finance Resources
There’s a sea of personal finance information out there, but generally, it’s good to rely on the fundamentals.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a great place to start. It’s government agency that offers financial tips, answers your money questions, helps you to reach financial goals and holds companies accountable for their practices.
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has an extremely user-friendly site that features calculators for saving, spending and investing, plus interactive quizzes that provide learning opportunities. The highlight is a searchable A-through-Z glossary of financial terms and vocabulary that will demystify the conversation for money newbies.
InCharge Debt Solutions offers a financial literacy resource that includes lessons for high-school teachers and students, along with workshops and worksheets that will help anyone’s outlook.
If you want to be smart with your money, check out wisebread.com, a blog that touts “Living Large on a Small Budget.’’ It has great common-sense advice, along with real-life ways to best utilize things you already own. Bottom line: Follow the advice and you’re going to save money.
More great money-saving tips can be found at TipHero.com, a blog that features daily tips and life hacks. You can also receive weekly pointers in your in-box.
Best Personal Finance Websites
There are plenty of opportunities to surf the Internet for personal finance information and tips.
A respected and solid business forecaster, kiplinger.com has a variety of useful content, such as videos, quizzes, news stories, columns, special reports, blogs and slide shows. The publisher has a loyal following.
For families in the military, the MilitaryWallet.com offers some unique perspective. It’s designed to help the military community become fiscally smart and informed by providing insight into investing, insurance and retirement.
Although it has great information on bank rates, mortgages and credit cards, bankrate.com also provides personal finance advice for financial planning, retirement and investments.
For advice on frugal living, along with all sorts of eye-catching financial information, you can’t go wrong with TheSimpleDollar.com.
The Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization, has terrific online tools to educate students. The KhanAcademy.org website produces short lectures in the form of YouTube videos, a method certain to crack the attention spans of young people.
Offline Personal Finance Games and Tools
For the folks who remember telephone booths and rabbit ears for the television, there are some tried-and-true methods that may have gone out of style.
But you know what? They still work — in a quaint kind of way.
- Monopoly (the game) — It has been around for more than a century. As a kid, you probably remember it as the game that took forever to play. But it always provided some valuable financial lessons. You learned to always keep cash on hand because you had to have money in order to win (last player standing). If you bought everything, you were liable to run out of cash. It also paid to have patience and a specific game plan, which is a reflection of financial discipline. Park Place and Boardwalk might have been attractive, but they also required maintenance. For pure value, the railroads were the best buy. And it was always valuable to diversify. If you owned things all over the board, odds were good that you’d get nice returns.
- The Piggy Bank — There was a time when every kid had a piggy bank. It was a tangible symbol of saving money — or putting something aside for a rainy day. The ratio was pretty simple. If you acquired 50 cents, you’d put 25 cents in the piggy bank. Unless you cheated, the money stayed there. Sometimes, it was difficult to pull off the rubber seal and empty the money, even if you were tempted. So it was a real-life example that when you saved money, you put it away without a second thought.
- The Envelope (for budgeting) — Another simple method that taught planning and discipline. When you cashed your paycheck, money was spread among various envelopes (such as rent, food, utilities, fuel), making sure that money was earmarked for the bills before it was spent elsewhere.
- The Calculator — Always keep one handy. Pocket calculators might have become passe in these technologically driven times. But they still do the job. And when you need to quickly work with some figures, it’s still a comforting way to know you got things right.