8 Free Finance and Productivity Tools

hammerWe live in an amazing time. Balancing checkbooks are a thing of the past. Tracking expenses and automating tasks? Easier than ever!

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.

The Monthly Budget Calculator

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.

Personal Capital

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!

Favado

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.

Excel

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.

Credit Karma

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.

FollowupThen.com

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 “tomorrow9am@followupthen.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.

IFTTT.com

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.

The Sweet Home and The Wirecutter

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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22 thoughts on “8 Free Finance and Productivity Tools

  1. Mark Ross February 10, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Those are great tools, thanks for sharing them! I’m definitely interested in using IFTTT because you can do so many things with it that can really help me be more productive.
    Mark Ross recently posted: 10 Ways Millionaires Do To Save Their MoneyMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 10, 2014 at 8:39 am

      The other great thing about IFTTT is that they are always adding new “channels” and ways to automate, so who knows what it will be able to do in the future!

  2. Shannon @ Financially Blonde February 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I have never heard of Favado, but I want to check it out now. And I love Credit Karma, my clients always think I work for them because I make all of them use it for their credit scores and tracking. It is just a great tool.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted: Music Mondays – Open Your HeartMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      I love Credit Karma mostly because before that, I was afraid of getting my credit score. I didn’t know who to trust, how often I could get away with checking it, etc. Credit Karma made that a whole lot easier.

  3. Leslie Beslie February 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Excel isn’t free. There are spreadsheet programs like in Google Docs or Open Office that provide free spreadsheet software. But Microsoft’s Excel is not free.

    I haven’t heard of Credit Karma but have been using Credit Sesame. No idea if they’re related/similar/etc. Happy with CS so far though!
    Leslie Beslie recently posted: January Books: Colum McCann, Bill Bryson, David B.My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Yup – I actually mention Google Docs up top as an alternative. I have also heard good things about Credit Sesame.

  4. Kristin Wong February 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Great list! IFFT sounds great-will have to check it out. I also use Personal Capital, though I use it in tandem with Mint. No one tried to contact me, though! I feel so rejected, ha.
    For online coupon codes, I use ‘Coupons at Checkout.’ It’s pretty awesome; it’s a browser extension that automatically loads coupon codes when you’re checking out at an online retailer’s site. Saves time from having to hunt for them yourself.
    Kristin Wong recently posted: Got AAA? Don’t miss out on these 7 discountsMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Coupons at checkout sounds awesome! I will definitely have to check that out.

  5. Leslie Beslie February 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Adding another comment! I had never heard of IFTTT so decided to try it out. Automating my life like this is weird and unnecessary. But…. there are some cool things you can do with it. Namely with the location channel. Like, automatically sending someone a text when you get home or automatically checking-in to a place on FourSquare.

    Anyway, after 30 minutes & talking to their support team, it turns out the location channel requires Geofencing which isn’t supported by the 4th gen iTouch (mine). There was not an error message telling me this but support was helpful!
    Leslie Beslie recently posted: January Monthly Spending in NYC 2014My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

      There is definitely a mix of useful and frivolous automations out there. Sorry your iTouch isn’t supported.

  6. Heidi @ ThriftyTricks February 11, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I knew about most of these, but some are unknown to me – for example Wirecutter site.
    There are also a couple of mobile apps worth checking out, for example Checkout51, Ibotta, Checkout, Slickdeals, and Shopkick.
    Heidi @ ThriftyTricks recently posted: Merciless Reviews of Top 11 Price Comparison WebsitesMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Thanks Heidi! I couldn’t quite get into Ibotta when I tried that one out, but I will check out those other apps!

  7. Glen Craig February 11, 2014 at 8:02 am

    FollowupThen sounds interesting. There’s another app out there called Boomerang that might have some more features but I think you have to pay for them. Gotta say I’ve heard a lot about IFTTT but I haven’t put the time in to figure out how to use it best.
    Glen Craig recently posted: Where Can I Get IRS Tax Forms (or Where Can I File Free)?My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Boomerang definitely sounds interesting. I will have to check that one out. Thanks Glen.

  8. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life February 11, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I started using IFTT but there’s like a two day delay on all my algorithms. It’s a little frustrating to me.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted: Four Reasons Races Make Better Investments than Gym Memberships.My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Interesting – I know that IFTTT actions are supposed to trigger every 15 minutes – for me, it is much quicker than that, so two days seems excessive. I couldn’t find any answers with a quick web search, but it sounds like Leslie contacted their customer support with some success.

  9. John S @ Frugal Rules February 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Great options to look at using! I’m a big fan of Excel myself and have used some of these other tools myself. FollowupThen sounds amazing! I’m always writing notes to myself to take care of something and having the ability to do it digitally and set a time to get it done sounds pretty appealing.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted: I’ve Gone 3 Years Without a TV (And I’m Still Alive)My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      FollowUpThen.com might be my favorite of the bunch – keeps me WAY more organized than I used to be.

  10. Justin February 13, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Sweet calculator and nice tools! I like the automation.

  11. Marvin February 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    We coupon like crazy, I know it’s a pain but it can be well worth it in the long run!
    Marvin recently posted: Quality Used CarsMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget February 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Yeah – it’s definitely a tactic I can see as useful. I just haven’t been able to get into it. Perhaps someday I’ll motivate myself!

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