Editor’s Note: Today I’m featuring an article from one of our readers named Ashley! A few months ago I wrote a review about Personal Capital and Ashley wrote in to me asking if she could tell her story of how she got started with PC and how it’s helped her. Naturally, I obliged so today I’m bringing you her story. I hope you guys enjoy it and please let us know what you think in the comments.
Over the years, I have tried several budgeting software and techniques. Like millions of others out there, I was determined to save more, spend less, and pay off debts. However, none of the budgeting methods I used would stick. I thought it was just because of my bad habits, but now I realize it is because none of the software or techniques have been fully suited to my unique budget.
The older I get, the more advanced and complicated my finances become. My financial worries use to consist of me worrying if I had enough money in my budget for a fast food run. Now, I have a 401K, a mortgage, multiple banking accounts, and unfortunately some credit card debt.
I started using Personal Capital a month ago, and I am loving how synchronized everything is. Even more importantly, it is so simple to use. Many of my other budgeting software came with tutorials, and I am just the type that wants to automatically know what to do. Once you open up Personal Capital, it is very straightforward. The best part is that it took less than ten minutes to hook up all of my accounts.
I’m Spending How Much?!
I have used many budgeting apps before, and none of them have stuck. Even though the free app, Mint, is comparable to Personal Capital, I still found it too messy and disorganized. When I had used the Mint app in the past, I felt like I had to do a lot of work to keep finances in the right category. When it was a hassle, I was much less likely to use it.
I love how Personal Capital organizes all of my spending in on place. It is a bit of an eye-opener to see that I have already spent $22 at Starbucks this month, and the month is only half way through. Let’s blame it on my morning sickness, shall we.
Personal Capital places all of my expenditures in categories, and I have only had to change a few (i.e. Sam’s Club went under utilities for some reason). This was definitely a lot less work than what I had to do with Mint.
I have used budgeting software that required you to input your purchases manually, as well. The problem with this was that I would not enter in credit card purchases. Therefore, I had a skewed perception on how much I was really spending. This is definitely not a fault with the budgeting system that I was using, but a fault with my own budgeting habits. With Personal Capital, I can’t get away with that. All my accounts are linked and show my true spending. So in comparison with other budgeting programs I have used, Personal Capital has kept me the most accountable.
How Many Years of Retirement Are You Losing?
Most mid-twenty-somethings don’t spend too much time thinking about their retirement. While I am in no rush to get one foot in the grave, I do think it is essential that my 401K is growing.
Personal Capital offers a free 401K analyzer that shows how much you are spending on fees. Truthfully, I had no idea how much we were spending on fees (and if I were to be even more truthful, I would tell you that I didn’t even know fees were being taken out. Talk about financially naïve!).
Many people will discover that they are spending an extravagant amount on 401K fees and basically throwing away many years of their retirement. I was happy to discover that we were still in the safe area when it came to 401K fees.
Net Worth Assessment
Another aspect of this software was that it combined all of your accounts and told you your net worth. The only problem I have with this is that it does not take into account how much your home is worth versus how much your mortgage is. For example, we bought our home for $172,000 two years ago, and it was just appraised for $280,000. Therefore, our net worth should be higher. Perhaps if Personal Capital synched with home estimation software, such as Zillow, it could incorporate this.
Overall, Personal Capital is the budgeting app that is working for me. It is perfect for those who want all of their finances organized without putting in a lot of time or effort into it.
When I initially started investigating the app, I was a little intimidated by who Personal Capital was targeting. Would the app work for me even though I don’t have a few million bucks lying around and a houseboat in Miami? That is the beauty of Personal Capital, it works well with both simple and complex finances, and it can grow with you. So even if you do not have an impressive portfolio, I highly recommend trying Personal Capital out for a few months. It is free and takes less than ten minutes to synch all of your accounts, therefore, you will not have wasted much time or money if it doesn’t work for you.
So readers, what kind of experiences have you had with Personal Capital? Are there any other awesome digital tools you’ve used to help optimize your finances?
This is Harry again, I hope you guys enjoyed this article and if you’re interested in signing up with Personal Capital please use our referral link. We get a small commission for every person that signs up so it’s a great way to support the site!
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-Harry @ PF Pro