Save money while also enjoying life

Best Sites to Manage Your Money

by Ashley

From your rent to your gym membership, student loans to credit-card bills, the list of things you owe money on is endless (and overwhelming)! So how can you manage your hard-earned cash and have some left over for a social life? These free websites put your personal finances into perspective and make it simple to take charge of your money.

Mint.com
Just like the name, this site is a refreshing, stress-free way to manage your money. Setup takes less than five minutes, so no excuses! All you have to do is enter a valid e-mail address and the log-in info for your online bank, student loans, credit cards, and other investment accounts you want to consolidate in Mint. Then, Mint automatically pulls together the data and categorizes all your purchases, showing you how much you spend on everything from after-work drinks with the girls to gas and groceries. Log in daily to track your budget and get the big picture of your finances in seconds. Other cool features include a system that alerts you when your balance is low, if there’s unusual activity in your accounts, when you have upcoming bill payments, and if there are banking fees. Plus, Mint looks for ways to help you save money by finding products and bank offerings that are relevant to your life. And finally, you can compare your spending habits to what others typically spend in the same category. You’ll know once and for all if your shoe obsession is walking all over your checking account…
SmartyPig.com
This site is like having an online, grown-up piggy bank. While these days you’re most likely saving up for a beach vacation rather than Malibu Barbie, the concept is the same. You want something specific, and this goal-oriented site helps you pay for it with monthly contributions (automatically deducted from your bank account). You can even create a “public savings goal” where you allow friends and family to see your financial goals and make contributions. Someone better teach Grandma how to use the Internet…ASAP! SmartyPig offers a competitive interest rate, and once you reach your goal, they can help you redeem it with the right retailer. For added motivation, they’ll send monthly e-mails encouraging you to keep up the good work. So go back to your childhood money-saving strategies with this simple way to save. The website’s design is just as cute as a real piggy bank.


INGDirect.com

Creating a no-fee, no-minimum, high-rate Orange Account through ING Direct is a great way to put away money without putting in a lot of effort. By setting up an Automatic Savings Plan, you can make sure a fixed amount of money is transferred regularly to your Orange Savings account from your checking account. Even if it’s just $25 a week, in a month you’ll have $100 in savings that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. All you have to do is go to the website to transfer money from your ING account to your checking, and vice versa. And be sure to take advantage of their online tips and tools like the Savings Account Shopping List, monthly e-mails with Savvy Savings Tips, and printable forms like the Wedding Budget and Vacation Worksheet.


StickK.com

Do you always make fabulous New Year’s resolutions and then fall off the wagon by Jan. 3? Well, make them stick all year long with StickK.com. This website helps you stay committed to a goal (whether it’s saving money or losing 20 pounds by your high school reunion) by holding you financially accountable if you don’t follow the “commitment contract” you have set for yourself. If you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you pay an amount that you’ve agreed to in advance. You’ll be more motivated if you risk losing money (perhaps to a charity whose mission you don’t actually agree with!) when you break your resolution. Donation: 25 bucks. Scaring yourself into saving money? Priceless.


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