10 Best Personal-Finance Tools to Better Manage Your Money
Take control of your finances with these budgeting and credit sites, tax software, health care tools and more.
As part of Kiplinger's annual list of the best personal finance products and services, we picked the top money-management tools, from sites to help with budgeting and monitoring your credit to services that will help protect your identity . Be sure to see the complete list of our favorite investments, financial products, travel tools and more.
Budgeting Web site
Mint.com makes it easy to set up and stay on a budget. The free site securely tracks your financial accounts (you provide log-in info), alerts you when bills are due and monitors progress toward your financial goals. It also notifies you about unusual spending patterns.
With TurboTax, you can electronically download W-2s and 1099s from thousands of employers and financial institutions, a time-saving feature that reduces errors (H&R Block tax software’s list isn’t as comprehensive). For tax year 2014, users can also arrange to be notified when their W-2 is available for download.
Square Cash is free and easy to use, and users don’t have to register. You send cash from an account tied to your debit card to the recipient’s account securely via e-mail or text. Most payments are deposited in minutes.
Health care tools
Healthcare Bluebook calculates “fair prices” (the amount that providers usually accept from insurers) for hundreds of services searchable by zip code, and it offers tips on how to shop for better deals. GoodRx’s search engine estimates how much your prescription drugs cost at nearby pharmacies and flags generic options. Scheduling a hospital stay? Medicare.gov’s Hospital Compare looks at quality measures, such as readmission rates, in relation to state and national averages.
Free credit site
Drawing data from credit agency TransUnion, Credit Karma provides your credit score and lets you access your credit report. It also monitors the report for suspicious activity. The tool’s “report card” offers tips on how to improve your mix of accounts and payment history to raise your score.
Payouts can vary a lot from company to company based on your age, sex, amount and type of payout. The best way to find out which insurers offer the highest lifetime payouts for you is to go to ImmediateAnnuities.com. It provides quotes for most of the top annuity companies.
LastPass stores a plethora of passwords using military-grade encryption. A browser add-on save your log-in information on each Web site.
ID protection service
The TrustedID Essentials package ($125) a year or $14.99 a month) monitors your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus for suspicious activity, provides an Equifax credit score and scans black-market sites for your Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers. Plus, TrustedID helps you cancel and replace cards if you lose your wallet and provides insurance to help cover costs that you incur after identity theft.