Category Archives: budgetapps

Overview

The whole USA has flourished with new developments in finance and money sector. This has given rise to all new companies coming up with their new promising ideas to invest funds and earn maximum amount of capital gain. Another such company that has come up in this race of horses is the LearnVest. LearnVest is an American based financial company that has been founded by Alexa Von Tobel who is also the current CEO of the company.

The main aim and operation of the company includes selling of finance software. Its CEO Alexa entered Harvard Business School in 2008 but took a long leave from the school and launched LearnVest. The company is headquartered in the New York City whereas their Expert hub lies in Phoenix. LearnVest has also achieved a hall mark of being listed in TechCrunch 50 in 2009.

LearnVest Aim and Focus

When LearnVest started its operation it mainly focused on providing its services to woman who is unable to get in proper touch of the market. However since past LearnVest has gradually changed it scope to gender specific to financial management. And since then the Website has been much gender neutral. LearnVest was taken over by northwestern mutual which is a 150 year old giant financial planning firm. This has affected the aim and the focus of the company.

What exactly LearnVest is?

LearnVest is a financial management and planning software that links all your accounts so that your transactions can automatically be synced at only one location. These Services are free to use and help one to provide an idea of how much he is spending and on which things he is spending the most. The offers benefits which every user enjoy while connecting with LearnVest are:

  • LearnVest offers a wide range of accounts with it.
  • It show detailed budget statement.
  • LearnVest also provide personal capital budget.
  • LearnVest is also good in customer services as it has advice center where you can put up your questions and get answers to it according to it.

LearnVest Services

The major service of the company primarily focuses on behavior change and helps you to cut your expenses and budget yourself to your goals of investing your money. Also LearnVest Planners help their clients to make progress on their money invested. LearnVest offers three tier accesses to financial plans such as:-


1. Money Center Tool

The Money center tool helps its user to track their expenditure by visualizing their budgets and financial goals all through with the help of online system. Also alongside this build in budgeting system one can estimate its full goal tracking and keep an eye on analysis of trends. Money center tool allows you to do live co-viewing of your account and also the dashboard between the investor and his financial planner. Thus, offering multi tasking options at one place.


2. LearnVest Planning

LearnVest inc. has a subsidiary named LearnVest Planning. This company is a Registered Investment Advisor and this helps LearnVest to employ certified financial planners nationwide. As a registered SEC financial advisor, The Company is able to offer portfolio recommendations and general investment advice to their new and existing customers.


3. iPhone and iPad Apps

LearnVest has also released free apps on iPhone and iPad which are too useful and helps user to track their goals by curtailing their spending. The LearnVest app was also ranked as a new and noteworthy pick in the iTunes app store.

LearnVest Features

You can get access to basic features and detailed budget information for free at LearnVest. Another feature offered by LearnVest is creation of you own smart budget which is absolutely free. Your smart budget helps you get an idea of where you are at. All you need is to enter your income, loans, expenses, additional assets and liabilities, with your spending priorities.

Unfortunately, if you don’t want to link accounts, your ability to create the Smart Budget is a bit limited. However, you can set up manual accounts with information you have, and that will allow you to take advantage of many of the Smart Budget features, including tracking your net worth, and tracking how much of your budget you have used up each month.

Some of the tools offered by LearnVest do require internal linking, in that case if you avoid doing this; your budgets will be somewhat incomplete. However you can ask for free Financial Checkup from LearnVest which is a relatively new feature is allowing you to see exactly where you stand with your finances.

LearnVest Pricing

When we talk about pricing LearnVest is absolutely free. However it also comes with a paid option. If one wants to access the financial advice of the experts through you own dedicated planner this remains the best thing for you at cheap rate currently this is priced at nominal one time setup fee of $299 while every month $19 would be charged for uninterrupted ongoing support. However any one is not quite sure that how would the acquisition affect the pricing of this software whether it would decrease or increase but this fee continues until you cancel your plan.

Milestones Earned by LearnVest

  • LearnVest was featured in the list of TechCrunch 50 in 2009
  • Forbes’s even ranked this site on the Top 100 Websites that are useful for Women
  • LearnVest was even ranked by the Business Insider’s Digital 100 List
  • It was featured in the Time Magazine’s annual list of 50 Best Websites
  • FinovateFall Best of Show 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Also it was ranked as the most influential websites of the year 2014.

 

LearnVest Pros

  • Comprehensive and diversified budgeting: All of the main focus of the LearnVest is the budgeting section
  • Educational Articles: The library offering great educational articles helps in improving the finances for any person.
  • Financial Planning Available: If you need any help with your finances LearnVest offers live financial advisors at nominal fees

 

LearnVest Cons

  • However only one feature that is lacked by investing reporting is that unlike the personal capital LearnVest total focus comes on budgeting thus its investing section is quite weak.

    

Overview

Personal Capital is a financial advisor providing its services online using automatic software programs that help you to manage your money. Personal Capital is an algorithm driven robo-advisor program clubbed with the dedicated human financial advisors that makes a combination which the company calls tech enhanced advising. Their software provides objective investing advice which reduces inefficiencies and takes the emotion out of money management.


What exactly is Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is an online investment advisor that works on the concept which focuses on making use of power of technology so as to enhance the financial services industry and make it much more accessible, affordable and honest. This technology is used to provide objective investment advice with much lower fees than most traditional institutions.

Personal Capital is known for lowering the fees for its client through the use of the instruments known as the exchange traded funds (ETFs) just like all the other OFA’s. ETFs or exchange traded funds are much similar to the mutual funds, but they come with a much lower expense ratio and can be traded like general stocks.

Personal Capital also invests money of the investors in a highly-differentiated or diversified sample of more than 60 individual stocks. This helps in providing each of the registered customers a portfolio with the tax optimization approach which is preferred by the company.

Personal Capital also features in monitoring your portfolio and optimizing it using:

  • Tax optimization and tax-loss harvesting
  • Automated portfolio rebalancing.
  • “Personal Strategy” that is developed and maintained

Investments are then allocated according to your personal strategy that you choose and market conditions and phases which are going on.

Personal Capital Pricing

The nature of the software is much of automated thus allows personal capital to charge much lower fees than the already working manual wealth management firms, which are appealing to many of the people who are totally rational and want to pay less and less of fee.

However this amount of enhanced services obviously means a large amount of management fees and personal capital keeps it promises in this department too. It may be lower than the usual fee charged by any in-person financial advisor but slightly more than its rivals, however the enhanced services promises to compensate for that extra payment.

The company has decreased its account minimum to $25,000 in 2015, but however it also offers a wealth of free tools that lets the users link their accounts and track their spending and watch out for their portfolio’s performance and investment fees.

Personal Capital Features

Personal Capital’s free service is focused (not surprisingly) on investing and retirement planning.

  • Retirement Planner — Find out if you are on target for retirement. Currently this feature is available only on the website and iPad app only.
  • Budgeting — follow weekly, monthly and yearly income and spending habits with their Cash Flow Analyzer spending tool. Currently this is available only on their mobile app.
  • 401(k) Fee Analyzer — this useful feature tells you how much your retirement plan is costing you.
  • Investment Checkup — Get high-level recommendations on your investment asset allocation. By determining your risk authority and span, Personal Capital will then suggest asset allocation that’s right for you.
  • Asset Allocation Target — it will check whether you are overweight or underweight in any of the major equity categories.
  • Upcoming Bills — shows a report of upcoming bills and their due dates.
  • Email Notifications — Get daily or weekly summaries of your investment portfolio and spending.
  • Website and Mobile App — not only can you access the service by their website, but also on iOS and Android mobile devices.
  • Apple Watch App — as if using your iPhone app isn’t enough, Personal Capital was one of the first services to add Apple Watch app functionality.

Who Might Personal Capital Be Good For?

  • Do-it-yourself investors

If you are the type of person who doesn’t want to pay high fees for investment advice than personal capital may be the thing for you. Investment Advice, portfolio management, custody and trading fees are all just charged under one package fee that is quite easy to understand also the automatic software provides a lot of transparency and un-biasness while providing advice thus helping such kind of investors types to avoid the mistakes that they might be prone to make if they would have been without any kind of Support

  • Long-term, passive investors

In case you are such an investor who is looking to invest for a long period, Personal Capital may be right for you. The company at start provides you with personalized investment plans and then you can set it and forget it for some time. As the automated software will do all of your planning and investment on you and however if anything changes you just need to inform your advisor about all the changes and then proper adjustments would be made regarding it.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner

With help of Personal Capital retirement planner one can easily know whether the investor has made enough of saving for his retirement or not. Even if he has required funds what is the percentage of risk involved for the amount he is saving for the retirement. With the help of this tool one can easily know about the spending goals as well as income events and project future portfolio value. Once these estimates are done retirement planner calculate and tells about in what condition the user is shaping towards his retirement.

The tool offered by personal capital is the best retirement planning tools as compared with other companies tools which lack many features. To make use of this tool there is no need for uses to enter asserts and accounts manually as the tool calculates all the required information automatically.

Personal Capital 401(k) Analyzer

With the help of this tool one can drive annual 401(k) expenses from required account of the user which is added by him within his services. After making some assumptions one can see an annual fee which is eating retirement money much before time. For calculation of retirement relating plan this tools is best suited as it shows desired result every time.

Overview

Mint is a totally free personal finance service that works totally online. With Mint you don’t need to install any software on the local disk and this can be accessed and operated with any browser on laptop or mobile device.

The popularity of mint is ever growing and currently it has already attached around ten million users with it. Mint is a personal financial program that is web-based. Moreover the app is absolutely free to sign up and takes only a few seconds to add new accounts into it. Another astonishing feature offered by mint is that whenever you visit on their site your financial data is automatically updated. Presentation of mint gives you another advantage as it offers a user gracious interface by presenting financial information very nicely with pretty graphs and a totally classic visual experience.

Though the service appears to be more about the glitz than useful functionality, it offers great help for things like financial statement, creating financial goals and aggregating all your financial accounts all at one place. The major piece of attention is the Mint’s dashboard which gives you a quick summary of your personal finances at a glance.

Mint Features

Some of the major features offered by Mint.com are given as follows:

  • It provides you with alert of pending bills via sms and helps you to save money on fines.
  • It provides you with app support on all the major platforms and all are absolutely free.
  • Mint provides you with weekly summaries of finance world via emails.
  • Helps you to easily understand where exactly you are spending your money in an easy to understand graphical format.
  • Automatically syncs your financial data into Mint (when it works properly).
  • View and monitor your credit score, account usage, payment history and errors at a glance.
  • Validate your use before logging in by either your email message or cell phone SMS message.

Mint Advantages

Mint has been applauded heavily since it has released its apps. It received a bevy of accolades and a lot of positive acclaims. Time Magazine has rated Mint as one of the 50 best iPhone apps of 2011, it was also rated as PC Magazine Editors Choice in 2011, and it was featured on CNN Money, The Wall Street Journal, and many other outlets. Another great feature of Mint is that it allows you to sync your debit and credit card with the clouds services so that you can do your account activity spontaneously without much hassle. The best thing about mint is that it tracks all your revenue, expenses, loans and budgets all in one place, simplifying money management.

Another thing of which every user is worried will be putting your finance details on the cloud handing it to someone whom you are not known to but Mint satisfies you on this part by providing you with bank-level security with 128-bit SSL encryption. It verifies all data with VeriSign and TRUSTe. All the data is read-only, so it’s almost impossible to shift money in and out of the accounts. To get the best results out of this app, combine it with a Mint.com account.

Best Features offered by Mint

  • Budgeting and monitoring of expenses: The main feature of this app is budgeting. Mint’s primary focus is all on budgeting and tracking expenses and this is where their service really shines. Budgeting which is becoming a sensation is very easy to setup all you need to do is download and sync your transactions then they will get auto-categorized into predefined categories.
  • Monitoring credit scores: Recently, mint rolled out a free credit score tracking option this helps you to keep track of your entire finances and gives you a clear picture of the positive and negative sides of your budget. All you need to do is to click on “Show Details” button and with that complete detail of your payment history; credit score, age of credit accounts and lots more will be shown to you. You can also upgrade to a premium version.

Recently mint was taken over by a large financial giant intuit, with the acquisition of Mint by Intuit, it’s obvious that product line will naturally get much quick than before. Also, with back outing of many rivals it has led to increasing value of mint and helping it to create a great position in the financial market

Mint service seems to be more focused on catering to the masses. It’s very strong with budgeting and tracking expenses, but its investing area is simplistic at best. Like most of Mint, it’s much simpler than Intuit’s Quicken and lacks many features.

  • Creating and managing goals: Another remarkable feature of mints is the goal tracking feature that helps you to create new goals for example paying off credit card debt or like saving up for a new home, can be very simple to set up and clearly help you to how to decrease your expenditure for achievement of these goals. Thus it enables you to manage your goals also.

Mint Pros

  • Mint.com comes with very easy to use features but these tools are very fast and powerful too.
  • It offers you with Flexible budgeting tool with which experimenting of different scenarios can be done.
  • It helps you to send all financial alerts via email and SMS.
  • TurboTax is already integrated in turbo tools.
  • Free credit score, powered by Equifax (you don’t supply a credit card number to get a score – it is completely free).
  • When a bill is due or account balance is low continuous alerts over sms and email are given so that you don’t forget to pay a bill.
  • Bank level data security policies for account aggregation.
  • The financial reports that your receive are customizable to provide you all the information in form of easy to read graphs and charts like pie charts and bar graphs for quick analysis.

Mint Cons

  • The investing section is OK not best as other firms such as Personal Capital offers better investment tools.
  • To generate reports only one way is there such as exporting a CSV file to a spreadsheet.
  • Users cannot reconcile their monthly bank statement.
  • You are also not allowed to import any other data from other personal finance application.

Overview

Not much companies offer apps that support bill paying options all those that are built are mostly poorly designed and some are very hard to use. Another thing is that number of apps of bill paying you need to have would clearly depend on the number of bills you want to pay. Like if you want to pay three bills you would need three different apps and another app to keep a total of all those expenditure you have done on those three.

If you are suffering from the similar problem than Mint Bills is the gift which is created only for you. This app lives up to its promise to merge your monthly bill responsibilities all into a single app and also assures that none of your payment misses out.

Why Mint Bills?

Due to variety of startups coming these days there has been a saturation point in the account tracking software. But Mint Bills is absolutely different from all of them. However it does not offer you with any budgeting or financial planning facility like those provided by mint.com, it has a supreme ability to view all of your bills, sort them according to schedule, then schedule the payments and also to ensure that you have enough funds to cover all of them. The greatest thing is that it offers something that seems to be a rare thing in such similar programs that is the simplicity and easiness of work provided by the company. And one could clearly say that just like mint.com it is the cleanest financial apps that one could ever see with everything sorted where it needs to be. So if you are looking for something that is effective and at the same time offers you a great degree of simplicity then your only way out could be Mint Bills.

How does it work?

First of all the basic thing you will need to start will be a Mint Bills account. This account is different from a regular mint account so you need to register separately for it. This means regardless of the fact that you are already a user of the money management services of mint, you’ll have to sign up for the Mint Bills account discretely and separately, as both of the services are totally independent of each other. Also any of the bank account or loan account that you have in your mint account will not be displayed here in Mint Bills. You can enroll yourself with mint bill by just making an account with you email id and password.

When you sign up for your first time the app asks you for the zip code of your area so the utility and communication companies in your area can easily be identified. Let’s take an example of sans Francisco this would mean pacific gas and electric company and Comcast i.e. is the TV and Internet company and also the san Francisco’s water department. Along with the local utilizes of each area it also offers you name of some major wireless carriers and banks including the Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Verizon and others services like AT&T. It may be considered as a minor feature but this feature really makes setup on Mint Bills little easier.

Over all Functioning and Pricing of Mint Bills

The major feature of Mint Bills is that it helps to monitor your bank accounts and your credit cards. Also stays on top of your bills all in one place. It alerts you when your bills are due or your funds are low. Some major steps to create account on Mint Bills are:

  1. Sign up by entering your email address and creating a password.
  2. Irrespective of fact that you’re already a Mint.com user you will have to create new username and password. As intuit has yet not integrated all the three services of quicken mint and Mint Bills accounts.
  3. Then add your accounts with Mint Bills. Like all other programs you need to link your login information of your bank accounts and credit cards and now your accounts are successfully attached with it.

Mint Bills is an app that would aggregate all your account like your insurance statements or other utility statements and pay all the bills via the apps. However it should be noted that Mint Bills is quite different from Mint.com as it is an app solemnly devoted for budgeting your transaction and view all the balances that you have.

What’s best about Mint Bills?

You know the best part about Mint Bills? Once you link your accounts, you don’t have to program in bill due dates. It’s automatically updated for you. When you link a credit card, you will see your balance, minimum payment due, APR fees for the year (which are hopefully $0), due date, interest rate and recent transactions.

When you link a bank account, you will see your balance and recent transactions. Unlike some programs that only allow you to link your cash, credit, and investment accounts, Mint Bills also lets you link bill accounts, such as utilities, insurance policies, and internet or phone service.

Instead of having to login to each of these accounts each month to pay your bills, you can schedule all payments through Mint Bills. Since the app reminds you of your due dates, you won’t miss a payment again and again.

With Mint Bills you can manage payments to credit card companies, utility providers, lenders, and even your landlord.

Other positives of Mint Bills

The new dashboard made by Mint Bills shows you the total amount of cash you have the bills you owe, your status after this month, your payments that are due and the credit card debt and investment balances and also other offers.

Other features include the ability to manage existing connected accounts, view reports, access your settings, and add new accounts. You’ll also receive coupons for various retails stores, and credit card recommendations and offers on other financial products, such as mortgage lenders, insurance companies, etc.