Whether you’re just starting out in the workforce or you’re nearing retirement, financial planning can feel complicated. You likely need to manage investments, savings, real estate, taxes, and possibly more than one income stream for your family. With all of these various categories to account for, you’ll want to find the right tools to help you manage these complexities.
Thankfully, there are a number of great DIY tech tools on the market.
Whether you’re looking for a budgeting app that can sync with various financial accounts or a simple way to crunch numbers on your own, there is something out there for you.
So, let’s take a look at the 3 best tech tools for DIY financial planning based on your needs:
YNAB - Best Cash Flow Management and Budgeting App
YNAB, or “You Need A Budget,” is a budgeting software and app that helps prioritize goals and create a spending plan BEFORE the month begins. Unlike MINT (which we love as well), YNAB helps you organize spending limits in various categories to proactively, rather than reactively, manage a household budget.
This way, you can stay one step ahead of any unexpected financial disruptions.
It’s important to note that, while YNAB is a great way to manage your cash flow, it’s not free. Nonetheless, we firmly believe that it is well worth the $12/month subscription fee. If you consider the long-term benefits of organizing your finances, YNAB pays for itself.
YNAB does take some work to set up on the front-end. Moreover, most people usually need about 2-3 months of diligent usage before it becomes a habit. However, in the end, the results can be life-changing for you and your family.
Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner - Best “Big Picture” Financial Planning Tool
If you’re already a Personal Capital Member, this financial planning tool is completely free. However, even if you’re not yet a member, this retirement planner is a great reason to get started with Personal Capital.
First of all, you can link all of your future cash flows such as social security estimates, pension plans, etc. Additionally, you can link investment and savings accounts to build a comprehensive retirement strategy.
As an added bonus, Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner allows you to create goals such as college funding and the purchase of new property, all within the simulation. You can literally plan out the next 10, 20, or 30 years of your life (or more) in one comprehensive program. Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner can help take multiple complex scenarios and blend them together into one simple output, giving you a greater sense of control.
That said, this planner definitely takes time to build and monitor on the front-end.
Even if you know exactly how you plan to use it, you will need to invest some time and effort to overcome the learning curve and input all of the necessary information. In any case, the integrations are vast and, once set-up properly, will be a one-stop-shop to help answer all of your, “am I on the right track?” type questions.
Estate Plan Navigator - Best Software for Basic Estate Planning
Unlike YNAB and Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner, Estate Plan Navigator is specifically designed to help you make a plan for your family’s assets once you’re gone. This service involves a full review of your estate plan from a licensed attorney in your state.
This is a very happy middle ground between working directly with an attorney and utilizing formula-driven software.
For more complex cases, we still recommend working directly with an attorney that specializes in this area, but for most simple estate plans, this is a great solution. Will-based plans and Revocable Living Trust-based plans are both available.
Revocable Living Trust solutions can help your estate plan avoid a time-consuming probate process. Please reach out to us if you’d like more information on the difference between these two approaches.
With Estate Plan Navigator, a local attorney reviews every plan. As a result, the cost is higher than what you might find with a service like Legal Zoom. However, it is still much, much lower than working with an attorney directly. That said, no matter how you choose to handle your estate planning, pricing will depend on the complexity involved in your particular case.
If managing your finances has become increasingly complex, the good news is you can definitely get reliable help by utilizing one of the many financial apps available in the marketplace. Since there are so many, the trick is deciding exactly what you want an app to do, then going with the one that best fits your personal needs and preferences.