Personal financial management (PFM) tools have experienced a dramatic rise in popularity as everyday Americans look to grab control of their finances. Financial services providers and technology companies fed this demand by launching a plethora of PFM tools. With so many choices, how do you go about picking one?
How They Work
Quicken, Mint.com, Yodlee MoneyCenter and Pageonce are just a few of the more popular PFM tools that pull your information from various financial accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and retirement accounts. They aggregate data, such as balances, due dates, interest rates and more, to provide a one-stop look at your entire financial situation
Additionally, they can show trends and offer advice on how you save, spend and invest so that you can make any changes to cut expenses or boost your savings.
If you are looking for a personal financial management tool, one of these can provide that “total snapshot” that you want. (Your own bank may offer a similar tool.)
Other Types of Tools
There are other types of PFM tools that focus on specific financial goals or chores.
ReadyForZero and SpringCoin, for example, also lets you pull in financial account information but they’re designed to help users reduce and eliminate debt of all kinds. Credit Karma and Quibble are some PFM tools that provide free credit monitoring services and monthly credit scores (not FICO scores) to help you keep an eye on your credit.
Many of these PFM-tool providers also develop mobile applications to offer on-the-go access.
The PFM tools listed above are just some of the options that are available now. There are others and new ones will show up.
When you pick a PFM tool, keep this in mind: the best PFM tool is the one that you actually use. (Since most of them are free, you might even opt to try them all and pick the one that you like.)