Who doesn’t love free stuff? This week, I’m giving you a list of free financial tools, tips, calculators, and even an ebook to help you get control of your money without spending anything to do it. Enjoy.
Mint downloads your financial transactions from your bank and credit card, and gives you awesome graphs and budgets based on your spending. It can also track the balance on your student loans, so that you know what you owe! I’m addicted to their pretty, pretty graphs. [As you’ll see from the Mint link, they’re giving away $2,000 to the millionth person to sign up for Mint. If you’ve been putting off getting an account, now may be the time to do so!]
Similar to Mint, but with a more community aspect to it. Wesabe has tools to compare your spending to other peoples’ (anonymously) and to share and read tips from others. Some people complain that the community on Wesabe isn’t great for college students and twenty-somethings, but is more geared toward thirty-somethings with kids. But the only way to fix that is to get more college students on the site, right?
If you’re looking for a bare-bones version of Mint or Wesabe, Yoodlee is literally that. It’s the engine that those sites, and others, use to download and graph your transactions. Some banks offer Yoodlee services to their online users, like Bank of America, which called it “MyPortfolio.”
Always known for its robust approach to finances, Quicken now offers a free online service. This, too, will download your transactions straight from your bank and credit cards, and will analyze it and allow you to use several Quicken tools for budgeting and money management. Quicken products are known for being very dense, so this might be overwhelming for some people. But it’s great if you’re looking for more control out of your online money management tool.
Don’t want to upload your banking information to an online service? Or maybe you want something small, but powerful, that you can carry around on a flash drive. I dig it, and I think PearBudget’s spreadsheet might be the thing for you. It’s a nifty little budgeting device that’s completely free to download and use. It runs in Excel, OpenOffice, or even on Google Docs! Paid Twice has a nice guide to PearBudget spreadsheet hacks, so that you can get even more out of this powerful little tool.
This is where I get the nice graphs that track my net worth in the sidebar here on my site, and for my monthly net worth updates. Although you have to enter the information in manually, the sites above can help to make that easy (my friend Sam uses the information he gets from Mint to fill in his NetworthIQ every month). Tracking your net worth gives you “big picture” view of your finances that you might be missing if you just look at the day-to-day stuff.
This site has calculators for so many things relating to financial aid and money, you’ll keep coming back to them for everything! Try their Student Budget Calculator, their Student Loan Advisor for undergraduate students, their Loan Repayment Calculator (my favorite!) and their Compound Interest Calculator. They even have a Peer-to-Peer Lender calculator, to help you with services like Lending Club.
The Hartford Playbook for Life
This free ebook is a money guide for college students and recent graduates, with a basketball/sports theme. If you’re not a sports fan, don’t let that hold you back: I’m not either, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend downloading this one!
The College Money Network
You may have noticed that as far as free financial services go, blogs such as the one you’re reading right now are enormously helpful. Poorer Than You is a member of the College Money Network, where you can find even more financial tips and tools that are relevant to your life as a student. You can visit the network homepage, or you can always find links to the other member sites in the sidebar here on Poorer Than You.
Do you use a free financial service or tool that I missed? Also, next week, this series will cover free stuff online that’s not related to personal finance, but can still save you money. If you’ve got a favorite free service, leave a comment!