Today, I present a short, but useful post. 7 digital tools that will help you on your quest to save money and be more productive. I use all of these tools personally and they have proven so valuable to me. If any of you out there are responsible for these tools, thank you!
Oh, and one more thing. All of these tools are ABSOLUTELY FREE! The one exception is Excel, but you can use Google Docs instead if you like.
Enter in your monthly expenses and this calculator will show you where you can save and what that savings looks like in the long run. Ok, you caught me. I made this calculator, so I MAY be a bit biased. But I do think it is quite useful. Cutting down on your monthly expenses is one of the most powerful financial moves you can make. You put in effort once, and you save money every single month! I call this “passive savings”. You don’t have to think about it after you set it up! My calculator is tailored for people in NYC, but is useful for folks everywhere.
Track your income, spending, and investments all in one place. Personal Capital also has tools that help you optimize your portfolio. For years, I tried to get into Mint (a similar service) and I always seemed to abandon it. So when I tried Personal Capital for the first time, I had low expectations. However, I really like the interface and I LOVE having my net worth displayed prominently. Increasing my net worth has become a big motivating factor for my saving and investing, almost like a video game!
Be aware, that once you sign up, one of their representatives will try to contact you to offer their asset management services. If you want to try them out, go right ahead (I like to manage my investments myself, personally). If you are like me and don’t want these paid services, just politely let them know you aren’t interested and that is that. Easy!
I’ll be honest. I have never been able to get into couponing. I’m just not patient enough for it, I guess. However, if I fire up the Favado app on my phone, I can see all the best deals at the supermarkets and pharmacies near me. The app even compares deals across the different stores in your area and pulls up coupons for extra savings. Basically it does all the work that turned me off of couponing. Definitely check out the video on their main site. It will walk you through the app.
A simple spreadsheet is a powerful tool. Despite all the other “fancier” services I use, I still track my total monthly spending in an excel document to make sure I am still on track with my financial goals. It’s a great exercise and really helps you reflect on what expenses are important to you, and what expenses were a waste, so you can cut those out next month. Start simple. Create a spreadsheet that has one column for the month and one column for your expenditures that month. As you go, you will start thinking of other information you want to track and personalize the spreadsheet to your needs. But this doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
It used to be extremely difficult to track your credit score. Now, with Credit Karma, you can log in and update your score any time you want! You definitely want to catch any errors or wrongful dings to your credit score and fix them right away! Why? Because bad credit can affect not only how much it costs you to take out a loan, but it can affect your insurance rates as well! Credit Karma helps you keep tabs.
This is a great productivity site. You actually don’t even have to go to the site to get started. Just send an email to “email@example.com” and it will shoot you an email back, you guessed it, tomorrow at 9am with the message you originally sent. This is an AMAZING tool for keeping a clean inbox (google “inbox zero” for plenty of articles on how a clean inbox improves productivity). If you Bcc a FollowUpThen address, it will email you with your response to another person and if you Cc a FollowUpThen address, it will remind everyone on the email chain, automatically. As someone with a terrible memory, I can’t tell you how useful this has been in BOTH my personal and professional lives.
Automate all the things! This service, an acronym for “If This, Then That” is straightforward. You set up a “recipe” saying if “x” happens, do “y” for me. You connect your accounts and start automating your life! For instance, when I write a blog post, I can have IFTTT automatically tweet it for me. In the morning, IFTTT texts me if rain is predicted. I get a notification if home brewing equipment is listed on craigslist and any blog post that doesn’t have an email signup is emailed to me anyway through IFTTT!
Here is where I take a break to tell you about the best/most hilarious IFTTT “recipe” that I have set up, with the help of Mac’s Automator software. When I walk through my door, I am greeted by my computer playing “Eye of the Tiger”. I can’t HELP but get fired up being home! It’s so amazing! I use IFTTT on my phone, which knows my location, so when I get home, a series of tasks are triggered which result in iTunes playing my entrance music! Feel free to contact me if you want to know how to do this yourself.
Look! You get two-for-one here. Both of these sites are part of the same “family” and have helped me with both my finances and productivity. I used to spend hours researching the “best” products on Amazon. I once spent an hour agonizing over which dish rack to get (and it ended up breaking in the first week). These sites have done the product testing for you, so you don’t have to rely on hundreds of potentially sketchy Amazon reviews. I have never been disappointed with a product that they recommend and from a productivity standpoint, I have saved HOURS. They also recommend quality products, which saves me money because I’m not replacing crappy products all the time.
I hope you find as much value as I do with these services. What tools do you use for finance and productivity?
* Note – a few of these links are affiliate links, but I absolutely believe in all of these products and use them myself. Plus they are all free to use!
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