A lot of people who read my blog probably already have decent habits tracking finances, but I have been surprised before. The point of this quick blog post is to simply say this: tracking your finances has never been more important.
As gas prices fall and stores open up new deals, the temptation to spend more or lose track of your finances will creep up. This is during a time where, at any time, your job could be out the window due to a line of credit being revoked or pressure by VCs for their companies to cut costs now.
And it’s also not just about you – it’s about your friends who may not be as online-saavy, but still use the Internet regularly. Checking finances at least weekly should be a habit, not a chore. And there are a lot of tools that help in this regard.
Here are my top three financial tools. I use each of them in order to make sure my financial house of cards are in order:
- Mint.com: By far my #1 financial tool. The winner of the TechCrunch 40, it connects all of your online bank accounts, Paypal, credit cards, and investment accounts and sorts through the data to give you a budget, alert you to bills due, and give you a comprehensive view of your overall wealth.
- My online bank accounts: Not enough people take advantage of online logins for their banks. I’m a Citi customer, and all of my asset and liability accounts (checking, savings, credit, loans, etc.) are in one place. I have auto-bill pay set up for several expenses, and I have auto-transfer of my wealth to my savings account, which eventually goes into an investment account.
- Yahoo! Finance: Surprised? Yahoo Finance is one of the best products Yahoo! has. I do a lot of technical investing, so the bar charts and technical indicators available for free via Yahoo! Finance give me a lot of data very quickly. Profiles are easy to set up, as well as news alerts on the companies I have investments with. In conjunction with a good online investment firm such as Scottrade, you really do have all the tools you need to make educated decisions with your money.
It’s nice to have that new iPhone or play around with Twitter, but always be aware of the financial and time costs related to what you do and what you buy. With Mint, you’ll be able to tell whether or not you can afford those nice things.
And please, for the love of all that is holy, have six months of salary and finances hidden away in an emergency account. You’ll be glad you made it if you suddenly find yourself handing out your resume in a 6.7% or 10.5% unemployment rate economy.