New Year's Resolutions: Fix Your Finances
Good Advice for the Taking
If you're uncomfortable allowing Web services to access all your financial account info, you can still find plenty of help on the Web.
Bankrate.com, Kiplinger.com, and MSN Money remain good all-purpose sites primarily for investors, with lots of advice and calculators. About.com's Financial Planning site has articles on the ABCs of personal finance, from creating a budget to planning for retirement. And you can always consult the big magazine sites in the category, SmartMoney and CNNMoney (from CNN and Fortune and Money magazines). The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.com have good personal-finance sections, too (again, primarily investor-focused).
You might try specialty sites such as LowCards.com, which keeps tabs on credit card offers and rates, identifying the cards with the lowest rates, best airline rewards, best cash-back plan, and so forth. The site also posts articles on how current events can affect consumers applying for credit cards or trying to manage credit-card debt.
LowerMyBills.com aggregates a slew of offers that could reduce various expenses, from mortgages to insurance and phone bills.
Taking Money Management Mobile
Along with the new Web 2.0 services, personal-finance services and applications for mobile phones have exploded. The iTunes App Store has 15 pages' worth of finance programs for the iPhone and iPod Touch; the most popular include custom apps for Bank of America, Chase, PayPal, and the aforementioned Mint.com. All are free, as is the equally popular Bloomberg app, which one-ups Apple's stock tracker.
The App Store is also awash with free and paid tools for calculating tips, everybody's share of a restaurant tab, and mortgages; converting currency; and simply keeping track of what you're spending as you spend it.
Don't have an iPhone or an iPod Touch? Yahoo Go, a mobile service available on more than 300 phones (including BlackBerry and Windows Mobile handsets), features a customizable finance page so you can check your stock portfolio when you're on the road. If you're willing to pay for heavy-duty money-management features, you might want to check out Splash Data's SplashMoney, which comes in versions for all major smart phone platforms.
The tools for helping you manage your finances are robust and plentiful; given the state of the economy, it isn't a bad time to start putting them to good use.