A guest post from Crystal -
We live in an amazing era of unparalleled convenience, thanks to the Internet. With just a computer and a connection, you can correspond with someone on the other side of the globe, or buy groceries and have them delivered right to your doorstep. You can even pay your bills, manage your money, and take care of all your budgeting needs without leaving your desk. In fact, there are so many online outlets for doing so, it’s a bit confusing figuring out where to start.
Of course, the Internet is also a top resource for finding the necessary information to answer such questions. If you’re just beginning to test the waters of online financial applications, we recommend visiting these sites for starters.
Image via Mint.com
Considering the vast assortment of online finance-advice outlets out there, why not start at the top? Most visitors consider Mint.com to be one of the best money-management tools available on the Web. Its greatest strength lies in the broadness of its potential application and the simplicity of its design. The site monitors your transactions to paint an exact picture of your current budget, and presents the results to you with no frills or mess, emphasizing easy readability.
Image via Geezeo.com
Simple, no-frills information is a definite plus. That said, another major strength of the Internet lies in its social aspects, and its ability to foster a community. Geezeo.com is a financial site that draws upon that strength, giving users the power to seek advice and tips from one another. The website also offers investment and budgeting services similar to those of Mint, but it truly shines for its tailored expert advice and community reviews.
Image via HelloWallet.com
It’s tough to beat the professional quality of established sites like Mint and Geezeo, but recent startup HelloWallet is a strong contender, offering a refreshing, independent take on financial planning. Like its peers, the site offers comprehensive budget planning in an easily digestible package for the average layperson. However, using its custom software, it also boasts powerful forecasting potential. Besides tracking your transactions and goals, HelloWallet will adjust on the fly based on recent changes in activity or projected patterns.
Image via AnnuityAssist.com
If you’re asking yourself, “How does a variable annuity work?” This site will help you sort it all out. The topic of annuities is fairly complicated, so it makes sense to seek help with it on the Internet. Unfortunately, though, a lot of annuity sites are thinly veiled sales pitches, or worse, pressure you into giving them your personal info in exchange for any sort of service. What if all you’re looking for is a bit of education? You can find what you’re looking for on AnnuityAssist, for one. The site provides educational annuity assistance for free above all else — it does offer options for paid services, should you want them, but doesn’t force them on you.
Image via Buxfer.com
Not all budgeting tasks are solo activities. In fact, managing money for the sake of a group can stand out as more complex and difficult than most financial tasks, and can involve hurt feelings and stepped-on toes if you’re not careful. Luckily, sites like Buxfer exist to help you out here. The site tracks expenses and IOUs among various members in a group, and is perfect for handling all sorts of potentially sticky situations, from splitting a restaurant bill to covering expenses for an international vacation.
Image via WePay.com
Another good example of a site that emphasizes group budgeting is WePay, which offers many services similar to those of Buxfer. However, it specializes more in budgeting for small businesses, charities, and other organizations. This site is a valuable resource for the tech-savvy small business owner, providing tools to handle customer transactions and keep track of where your money’s coming and going.
Image via SmartyPig.com
Sometimes the smartest thing to do with your money is to simply save it. It’s no longer the norm to keep your cash in a piggy bank, but SmartyPig offers a modern, electronic take on the concept. The site helps you set up a savings fund with a specific end goal in mind, such as a vacation, a wedding, or a big-ticket item. It will then track your progress towards the desired amount, encouraging you to keep building up your nest egg until it’s ready to hatch.
In your quest towards better budgeting and financial sense, perhaps your greatest asset is information, and the Internet has that in spades. Take a look through a few of the above sites, and arm yourself appropriately to give yourself the confidence to manage money like a real pro.