Becoming Financially Savvy: You Have More Resources Than Ever Before

We now live in a world where you can do anything online; have your new car delivered to your house, go to elementary school, even buy a tiger. While I would argue that most of these activities are better done in-person (or not at all), this age of information and accessibility comes with an array of digital tools to enhance your financial acuity.

At this point, I imagine we’ve all over-indulged in less productive online activity, whether it be binge-watching B-movies on Netflix or making needless purchases on Amazon (I’m guilty of both). With this in mind, I thought it prudent to assemble and assess a few more productive resources to peruse so that you might increase your financial IQ.

  1. Investopedia.com – My go-to. Think of Investopedia as your dictionary/encyclopedia for all things money, investments, and finance. They do an excellent job of boiling down topics, both simple and complex, into an easily consumed format for a broad range of readers.
  1. Mint.com – Mint is an indispensable digital budgeting and account aggregation service. They allow you to aggregate data from your bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts and more in order to accurately track and budget spending across all your financial resources. They also give meaningful analysis regarding your adherence to financial goals overtime.
  1. SSA.gov – Social Security? Boring, right? Maybe so, but also critical. Whether you are receiving benefits now and need to monitor their status or would like to investigate your projected future benefits, the Social Security Administration has a wealth of information on the subject and provides accurate data on your current/future benefits.
  1. NerdWallet.com – NerdWallet provides readers with reviews and comparisons for a myriad of financial products: credit cards, banking institutions, loan providers, insurance offerings, and more. They are a great place to start should you be in the market for new products/services or would like to read-up on those you already trust.
  1. BankRate.com – Bankrate is a personal finance publication much like NerdWallet. Specifically, their expertise is greatest for those looking for financing: new mortgages, mortgage refinancing and personal loans. They also have several useful calculators for budgeting: what sort of house you may be able to afford, savings targets, loan payoffs, and more.
  1. Kitces.com – Michael Kitces is the premier online source for financial planning guidance. Most people that regularly use his site are financial professionals. That said, for someone comfortable with or hungry for knowledge on financial planning, his team’s broad catalog of content is an excellent reading resource.
  1. PersonalCapital.com – PersonalCapital is built on a similar concept to Mint.com. However, where Mint.com tends to focus heavily on budget and spending objectives, Personal Capital’s focus is on the aggregation and analysis of your investment accounts/assets.
  1. The Wall Street Journal – It is difficult to find an unbiased traditional news media outlet of late. That said, The Wall Street Journal is arguably one of the most objective. As long as you stay away from the opinion section, “The Journal” does an excellent job of covering current events related to regulatory policy, broad economic topics, and investment news. This is the traditional news source that I feel most comfortable consulting on a regular basis.
  1. Envestnet MoneyGuide – Envestnet has become one of the largest software providers for financial professionals. While their MoneyGuide service offering is targeted to these professionals, they do have a version that is meant to be “client-friendly”. MoneyGuide is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive and well-thought-out financial planning software available. I recommend working with an advisor if you truly want a financial plan tailored to your specific needs, but, if you insist on venturing out on your own, this is the software for you.
  1. Zillow.com, Realtor.com, Redfin.com – It’s safe to say you’ve heard of these. That said, they are an invaluable resource for anyone considering a move (rent, buy, or sell). These institutions have a universe of data, listings, and comparable properties. They also have a number of lesser-known tools that are of great benefit: future home value projections, mortgage calculators, loan financing resources, property purchase history and many more. The value of these popular sites is not to be discounted.

In all cases, I strongly believe that a professional financial advisor is your best resource for maintaining your financial health. At the most basic level, you have a partner to keep you accountable to your financial plans and aspirations. With that said, there is a wealth (pun-intended) of knowledge at your digital fingertips and you would be remiss not to take advantage of it. In the wise words of Ben Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.