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If you’re not using at least one financial tool to help manage your finances, you’re either doing it wrong or doing too much work yourself.
There are SO many amazing tools out there today, it can almost be difficult to find the rights ones for what you need.
Fortunately, I’ve got a list for you of a variety of financial tools that could help you make the most of your finances, in just about every aspect!
Why are financial tools important?
Every tool you have in your toolbox when managing your money and paying off your debt can make or break your success.
But here’s the thing: not all financial tools are created equally!
What works for one person could turn someone else off to budgeting. Or what helps one person pay off their debt quickly could make someone else throw in the towel.
It’s important to know what tools are out there and to figure out what works best for YOU.
35 financial tools to take control of your finances
For budgeting your money
The most important aspect to think through when choosing a method for budgeting your money is what you’ll be most likely to keep up with.
For example, when we first got started, we thought an app was going to be the easiest way to keep track of our budget. Since we use our phones so much, it only made sense to use one.
But it turns out that we hardly ever opened our budgeting app!
What are some popular options for budgeting your money?
As it turns out, a spreadsheet was the budgeting tool that worked best for us. Once all of the formulas were set, we added our income and monthly bills for each tab.
What do I like about spreadsheets?
For me, it’s helpful to have your entire month’s income and expenses right in front of you. Not having to click around for different aspects of that month’s budget. I also like to have full control of every aspect of my budget (not so much a “plug-and-play”, non-customizable interface.
This is the site we downloaded our spreadsheet from, and we still use it today! The specific spreadsheet we downloaded is called the “Allocated Spending Plan”. It’s simple to use but is totally customizable if you need to make changes.
No, an app didn’t work for us, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!
Apps are great because they’re accessible anywhere you bring your phone. No lugging around a computer to access your spreadsheet. Just as simple as opening your app while on the go.
From my research, You Need A Budget (YNAB) and Mint seem to be the most popular and widely-used money management apps on the list.
If you’re a pencil-and-paper type person, you really should be using a budget binder.
There are so many options out there, so you are bound to find something that works perfectly for you. There are binders that have the majority of expenses to track for the month already added or completely blank to customize yourself. Some have debt payoff trackers built-in, or graphs to watch your savings grow, or even spots to journal in.
Related reading: 11 Best Budget Binders You Need to Rock Your Finances in 2021
I like printables in general because it’s a free way to track your money.
A printable might work best for you if you’re wanting a quick, free budgeting template. We like sticking our printables up on the fridge to make sure we always see them.
Here’s a good (FREE) set of printables that will get you started.
For paying off debt
Debt payoff calculators
A good debt payoff calculator is instrumental when you’re in the midst of paying off your debt.
It not only shows you the amount of interest you’ll be paying but also gives you a big picture as to how quickly you can pay off your debt.
Our debt payoff printable was our biggest cheerleader throughout our debt payoff process. And I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it made for us!
If you’re just looking at your debt accounts, it may not feel like you’re making much of a difference with each debt payment.
But filling in a representation of all of your debt with each paycheck lets you see the needle moving. And you’re reminded of it each time you see that piece of paper!
We had our printable taped up to our fridge. Every payday, we would fill in a little more on it. It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest motivator when we were feeling like we weren’t getting anywhere.
You already know I’m a huge fan of spreadsheets.
I like using a debt payoff spreadsheet because I get to see the numbers update in real-time. Plus, I can play with the numbers to see the impact it has on my debt payoff time.
Here’s a free debt payoff spreadsheet that allows you to choose your debt payoff method right in the spreadsheet. That way, you can see which method works best for you!
Here is a list of free debt payoff calculators for everything from mortgage to credit cards to overall debts.
The great thing about using a website for your debt payoff is that you can access it from any device you can access the internet on.
There are a couple of websites I like, depending on how in-depth you’d like to get with your debt payoff calculator and visualization.
If you’d like something that goes a little more in-depth, Undebt.it is a great resource. You’re able to input as many debts as you need, choose between different payoff plans (or create your own), see your projected payoff date and interest paid, export to Excel, and more with their online tool.
Then again, if you’re looking for something quick, Unbury.me is a great visualization tool. Their easy interface makes it super quick to input everything you need so you can get a clear picture of your debt payoff. You get the amount of interest paid, how long it’ll take, plus a nice graph to showcase everything.
Related reading: How to Track Debt Payoff (Debt Tracker Methods)
For handling your money
Cash envelope wallet
I LOVE using a cash envelope wallet for handling our money. It goes hand-in-hand with your budget; so you will create your budget for the month and allocate so many dollars to each category. Then, when your paycheck hits your account, you withdraw the money, stick it in the right envelope, and never overspend!
When we got started, I used a small 3-ring binder, some mailing envelopes, and a 3 hole punch to create our own cash envelope wallet. Sure, it worked for a little while, but those envelopes wore down pretty quickly.
There are so many amazing cash envelope wallets out there today to make budgeting a breeze. Here’s my list of 14 great cash envelope wallets. In case you want to cut to the chase, I’d have to say this wallet is my favorite on the list!
These apps are outside of the apps mentioned for budgeting since these are all about the nitty-gritty of your monthly budget and how you adhere to that set budget.
Specifically, I really like apps that help you stick to your budget by using the envelope system in a digital form.
How does that work?
There are some apps out there that can either keep up with your account in real-time (likely for a small monthly fee) or have you input your transactions as you make them. As those apps track your account, you are able to keep track of how much of each budget category you are spending, to ensure you don’t go over.
A couple of apps that are good for this are Goodbudget and EveryDollar. If you don’t want to have to worry about inputting every transaction you make, you’ll want to get the upgraded version of EveryDollar. If you don’t mind inputting those transactions to save yourself some money, then the free version of either app is good!
Related reading: 6 Budgeting Apps You Need to Rock Your Finances
It’s not a secret that I love using cash envelope wallets, so it only makes sense to have a website resource dedicated to a digital version of the envelopes system.
Qube just showed up on my radar, but boy does it look powerful! All of the money deposited into your Qube Money account is held by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC (so your money is safe). Once your money has been deposited, you allocate whatever you need to each of your budgeting categories.
You use the Qube Visa card you receive to make your purchases. By default, your card has $0 on it, to prevent theft. Once you’re ready to make a purchase, you simply move the money from your Qube (allocated spending category in your budget) over to the card. That prevents you from overdrafting or using money above what you allocated to specific categories.
Another tool everyone should use when handling their money is their online banking account.
I know that sounds simple and obvious, but there are many out there that don’t bother to open their account!
We not only look at our account to check our balance, but to ensure there aren’t any strange transactions, make sure the correct amount of money comes out for our bills, and stay up-to-date with our savings.
For tracking your net worth
There are so many great (and free!) spreadsheets available out there to track your net worth.
Here are a few:
- The Retirement Manifesto
- Financial Independence Spreadsheet
- Johnny Africa FIRE spreadsheet
- Young Adult Money
- Budgets Are Sexy
We personally use Personal Capital and really enjoy it! Their website allows you to enter your liabilities and assets to get a clear picture of your net worth and how it changes over time.
Keeping track of your retirement and making sure you’re on the right track are CRUCIAL for your future. And the sooner, the better: the earlier you place money in your retirement accounts, the more time it has to grow for you.
These websites help you understand if you’re on the right track to achieve your retirement goals. Each of them offers something a little different than the others, so they’re all definitely worth checking out.
- Fidelity (Fidelity Retirement Score) here’s their overall retirement section
- Maximize My Social Security
- Personal Capital
- Stash Retirement Calculator
For paying your bills
Apps and websites
After inputting all of your monthly billing accounts into the app/website, it will keep track of when those bills are due, how much your bill is, and allows you to pay for that bill directly from the interface. That’s incredibly helpful if you’re known to forget and have to pay late fees on your bills.
Another nice service is Trim. It takes a look at your accounts and is constantly on the lookout for ways to save you money on your bills. On their website, they claim to save users over $600 in their first year of use!
I’m also going to throw in that your online banking account is a good financial tool for paying your bills. Some banks give you the ability to pay for your bills directly from their site! It’s also good to keep track of how much your bills are and to ensure that you have enough in your account to cover your bills (to avoid those overdraft fees!).
Related reading: How to Cut Your Electric Bill and Save Some Serious Cash
For cash-back on your purchases
I will always stand behind using a cash-back app, because there is money left on the table if you don’t.
These cash-back apps give you money back from making purchases that you already planned on making. All it takes is a few extra steps to get some money back, and those extra steps typically just involve scanning your receipt in some way.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Ibotta and Rakuten are cash-back apps, where you either use one during your purchase or after the fact (scanning your receipt) to get cash-back via their tool. I love using the Rakuten Chrome extension while making my online purchases because it will tell you how much of a percentage you can receive back in cash as you’re making it!
Fetch is a good financial tool to use after you make a purchase to receive gift cards. You can either scan your physical receipt or use their e-receipt feature, which “scans” your digital receipts in your email inbox.
All of these are free to use and get cash back in your pocket without doing anything differently!
What is the best way to manage money?
It’s important, no matter what financial tool you choose, to have every aspect of your finances in order.
My best recommendation is to have a tool you enjoy using for each point in this post. And not only a tool you enjoy using, but a tool you will keep up with.
That might be an assortment of tools or just spreadsheets across the board. But just know that it will take some time to figure out which tool you need for each category. Simply enjoying spreadsheets does not guarantee that you will want to keep up with a spreadsheet for every aspect of your finances.
Those are some financial tools you should have in your back pocket!
Do you use any of these tools? A combination of them? Do you use anything not mentioned in this list?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!