7 Smart Tools for Tracking Your Finances

found money meme for finance

For many, budgeting is something you do when you want to know how much fun you can (or cannot) afford. Second only to “lose weight”, “stay organized” and “spend less/save more” are the most popular New Year’s resolutions for Americans (according to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology).

Here are our favorite online tools to help you organize your finances and save more:

1. BillGuard

Have you ever been a victim of a bogus or grey charges on your credit or debit card account? BillGuard is a “set it and forget it” service that monitors your purchases (for free) and notifies you only if a charge is flagged as fraudulent or possibly erroneous. BillGuard.com currently boasts that they’ve saved over a total of $1 million in grey charges for their customers.

2. LearnVest

One of the best places to receive an overall financial education. LearnVest gives you access to a personal financial planner to better manage your assets and achieve your dreams and goals. Use their extensive Knowledge Center that caters to the beginner to intermediate planner. Sign up for their Bootcamp email programs and get ready for a heap of knowledge. Programs focus on everything from planning for a baby to saving for retirement.

3. Payoff

Enjoy games? Then you’ll love Payoff.com. These guys have turned setting financial goals (such as saving for a trip or paying off a credit card) into a game, and actually made the process of reaching them fun. Earn badges and “sur-prizes” along the way. As you start your journey toward bettering your finances, Payoff will offer handpicked tools and blog posts to help you succeed.

4. Ready for Zero

This service focuses on getting you out of debt. Enter your credit card account or loans, and learn how much time it will take to pay off and help you determine your monthly payment goals. Reduce what you owe and get advice along the way. Ready for Zero will also send you timely reminders to make payments.

5. Mint

Probably one of the best known free personal finance tracking tools, Mint allows you to track and monitor everything from bank to  credit card accounts, car to school loans. Create goals and set up budgets for every area of your spending, from paying utilities to entertainment. The Mint blog also functions as a knowledge center for those of us just getting started on tracking our finances.

6. BreadVault

BreadVault offers a savings tool for the whole family, teaching your children that there’s no such thing as a “money tree.” Learn about investing, giving to charity, tracking finances and saving as a family. Other features include shopping and bookmarking items you’d like to purchase (and seeing how they stack up against current goals), as well as a mobile app barcode scanner that saves purchase information to your BreadVault account.

7. SmartyPig

Ever wanted a digital online piggy bank? SmartyPig is an FDIC-insured savings account. In four years they’ve helped people reach over $3 billion in savings goals. SmartyPig account holders can use Twitter and Facebook to have friends and family members contribute to their goal, whether it’s a purchase or a down payment on a house.

*Bonus: I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Ramit Sethi

If you want a “no bull” approach to personal finance and entrepreneurship, then Ramit Sethi is your guy. The New York Times Bestselling author provides you with an arsenal of information, from guidance on how to negotiate your bills or salary to how to start your own business. Download the free content on his site, check out his book, or visit the I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog and receive newsletters to improve in your life and career.

Have any other personal finance sites that you’d like to share? Please tell me about them in the comments section.


  • jplhomer

    Thanks for these! I really like Mint, and I’m checking out BillGuard right now.

    • CaityJones

      Thanks, Josh! BillGuard is pretty awesome, I actually had a recurring subscription charge on my statement it picked up, I’d registered for a half marathon and during registration I guess I agreed (hidden in the fine print) to a $60 subscription fee to the processing platform they’d use to take payments. Got it taken care of pronto!

      • http://www.facebook.com/danpeguine Dan Peguine

        CaityJones – Wow, really cool to hear that BillGuard helped you spot that grey charge!

        Thanks again for the mention!

        Dan @ BillGuard

      • http://www.facebook.com/danpeguine Dan Peguine

        @CaityJones:disqus wow, really glad that BillGuard spotted that grey charge for you!

        Thanks again for the mention!

        Dan @ BillGuard

  • Avi Marcus

    I use PageOnce and Billguard frequently.

    The scary thing about all of these is they want your actual bank login information. No matter how secure they claim to be, that info really shouldn’t be given out. What happens if just a single one of these places gets compromised?!

    However, as far as I can tell, only ING Direct and Paypal have an API to give read-only credentials to these sites.
    Neither Mint nor PageOnce supports Dwolla, either…

    • CaityJones

      I hadn’t seen Pageonce, thanks for sharing! Definitely going to check it out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/danpeguine Dan Peguine

      Thanks for asking about this, Avi.

      I can chime in with regards to BillGuard’s approach to security. We never store the credentials entered in BillGuard but rather pass them securely to a banking industry standard account aggregation service called Yodlee.com, which is endorsed and used by most of the top US banks.

      Yodlee allow us to have a read-only access to transaction to safely monitor them for grey charges. Read-only means we cannot move your money, and neither can anyone else – even in the unlikely event of a breach. More about this can be found here – http://help.billguard.com/customer/portal/articles/208640-security-faq.

      Dan @ BillGuard

  • DarkMagess

    You Need a Budget (www.youneedabudget.com) It’s got a 1 month trial, which is really what you need in order to see if it will help you. This is the first time I’m seriously seeing where my money goes, and it’s helping me to plan for things like increased rent.

    • CaityJones

      Awesome – thanks for the suggestion! Looks pretty cool, I’ll have to dive into it.

  • Brad

    who’s giving out all my websites and people to follow?? :)

  • Gavin

    I could use readyforzero.com, that’s for sure.

  • http://www.onlinebusinessprospects.com Richard

    Obviously the best detailed article on the subject of personal finance and smart ways to save money. Lack proper tools always results to over spending which will eventually lead to failure.

    Thanks for the suggestion i enjoyed the article. I recovering from such can tough i know and i even wrote an article about it here http://onlinebusinessprospects.com/8abl

    Keep up the good work and thanks again for sharing.


Financial institutions play an important role in the Dwolla network.

Dwolla, Inc. is an agent of Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank and all funds associated with your account in the Dwolla network are held in pooled accounts at Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank. These funds are not eligible for individual insurance, including FDIC insurance and may not be eligible for share insurance by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Dwolla, Inc. is the operator of a software platform that communicates user instructions for funds transfers to Veridian Credit Union and Compass Bank.