This post is sponsored by Personal Capital, all opinions are my own.
With a new decade comes lots of new goals. I’m not one for resolutions, but one of my goals this year is to work on our finances. My husband and I worked extremely hard in 2019, and we want to save as much money as possible in the next year. We also added a new baby to our family this year so of course we want to start planning for the boys’ education. If you’re anything like me, budgeting and financial planning might seem daunting. I’m so glad I recently started using Personal Capital, a digital wealth manager, to help make the whole process more simple and effective.
Before signing up, we established that we wanted to focus on two goals: budgeting to save for a house and planning for the cost of our boys’ education. When we created a profile, we were asked to link any bank accounts, investment accounts, credit card accounts and any other assets or liabilities. This gives you an accurate view of your net worth (what you have minus what you owe).
Our net worth definitely wasn’t something I was thinking about before so knowing it will guide us to make smarter decisions when it comes to our finances. Instead of logging into each account one by one, you can log into your Personal Capital profile to stay on top of all of them. After everything was added, we were able to get a 360-degree view of our money.
We decided to use the Budgeting Tool and the Education Planner so I wanted to tell you a little bit about each tool. I also want to mention that most importantly, the tools are FREE to use!
The Budgeting Tool
To say I love this tool is an understatement. It organizes your spending and savings automatically by date, category, or merchant. You can set a monthly spending target, and you can easily see if you’re tracking over or under your plan. If you’re tracking over your monthly plan, it makes it easy to make adjustments in time to stay on track. I’m a very visual person, so it’s perfect that I’m able to see everything in one place. It’s been especially helpful seeing exactly where our money is going so that we can see which categories we’re overspending in. You can also manage your cash flow to see what has come in and gone out in the last 30 days so you can stick to your goals.
The Education Planner
This tool is a necessity for any parent. It helps you to estimate and plan how much you should be saving today to cover education costs down the road. This will of course depend on how many kids you have, how old they are etc.
Now that I’ve given you some background on the tools, I wanted to share 5 ways you can use Personal Capital to plan for your future:
1. Get a complete view of your finances in one place
This is the first step when it comes to planning for your future. It’s extremely difficult to plan when you don’t really know where you are financially. It’s so time consuming to log into all of your accounts one by one, but with Personal Capital they’re all in your dashboard. You can link any bank accounts, credit card accounts, investments and liabilities to your profile. I also love that I can see all of my account transactions and credit balances in one place.
2. Categorize your spending
One of my favorite things about the budgeting tool is that it automatically categorizes all of your purchases. Some of the categories include: insurance, restaurants, groceries, service/charge fees, entertainment, electronics and general merchandise. This has been super eye opening for us as it’s such an easy way to see where our money is going. Breaking it down by category gives you the chance to see which areas you’re overspending in.
3. Set financial goals
Before creating a budget, it’s essential to set some financial goals as a family. For us it’s saving for a house and future education costs, but of course these goals will be different for everyone. I’ve also found that we’re more motivated to save when we have concrete goals to work towards.
4. Create a budget
This is a big one. To be honest, we’re not one of those couples that’s great at budgeting. Up until now we’ve more or less been winging it because the idea of budgeting did not seem appealing. Personal Capital has made it SO simple and almost fun to set and stick to a budget. After deciding on your financial goals, you can then create a monthly budget that you feel comfortable with. Personal Capital calculates your average monthly spending based on your spending habits from the last 3 months. Your average yearly spending is calculated after looking at the last 12 months of spending. The budgeting tool shows if you’re over or under budget, and it also shows your expenses broken down by category. It shows you how much you can save per year compared to your typical spending which is awesome.
5. Shift spending habits and start saving for your future
After you create your budget, you’ll be able to cut out unnecessary spending. This might mean spending less on clothes, switching to a cheaper phone plan or opting to make your coffee at home instead of getting Starbucks. With the budgeting tool, you don’t have to feel like your spending is being restricted-you’re just shifting your spending so you can set aside as much money as possible. Now that
I hope these tips have inspired you to stay on top of your finances this year! Visit http://bit.ly/2PEURyE if you’re interested in learning more about the FREE tools Personal Capital can provide!