In early November, it might feel too early to even think about the holiday season.
But if you’re trying to reach your financial goals, now is the time to start.
Fortunately, there are many services that can help you stay on track, whether that is crafting a budget, tracking your investments, or saving up for a financial goal.
Here are just a couple of services that can help you along the way. And most importantly, they are free.
Mint is a popular service. More than 15 million people have signed up to use it.
It's a website or app where you can create budgets, track and pay bills, even check your credit score.
It lets you link your checking and saving accounts, credit cards, bills and more to see how much you’re spending. It then makes suggestions on where to cut back.
It's free, and has gotten great reviews from NerdWallet and others.
Amber Kostelny, founder of Amber’s Organizing in Denver and Chicago, uses Mint with her clients.
"I find that people who are successful with it have the discipline to sit down weekly to look at what they spent every week, or at least once a month,” Kostelny said. “So it's a discipline you really want to make a priority." If you are interested in Mint, you can learn more on www.mint.com.
Like Mint, Personal Capital allows you to link all your accounts in one place, such as bank accounts and credit cards.
It also has a budgeting and investing.
It’s a little more sophisticated than Mint, in that it combines algorithms with human advisors to keep you on track financially.
If you're a high roller with more than $200,000 in your account, you get your own personal advisor.
And if you have a lot less than that, you get a team of advisors that keeps track of you.
Nerd Wallet says it's best for high net worth investors, and people looking for tax optimization.
There is a cost for some services.
Kim Curtis, the President and CEO of the Wealth Legacy Institute, thinks it's worth it to have our full financial picture at your fingertips.
"It actually offers two services in one,” Curtis said. “So the first is kind of the tracking of budgeting that we talked about earlier with Mint. But the second is that investment advisory service. So it's almost like you can have budgeting and tracking, and the other side where you have a little bit of investment management." If you are interested in Personal Capital, you can learn more on www.personalcapital.com.
BudgetPulse is like the others in that it lets you link all your accounts, checking, savings, and credit cards.
It has graphs and charts to show you how you are doing, and how to better manage your money.
But it also allows you to create fund raising goals and raise some money using PayPal or Amazon.
For example, if you're trying to find the money for your son or daughter's soccer tournament in Arizona, the app helps you set up a fundraising account and an email chain to send to family and friends. It also suggests savings plans to achieve those goals.
“You have to put in each of the budget categories,” Curtis said. “It doesn't have it preset. However, you can customize your budget. And it prints out these beautiful graphics that visualize where you are to your goal. And so that in and of itself is motivating for a lot of people."
Curtis also says that if you're just starting out with personal finance services and don't know which one to try, BudgetPulse might be a good place to start because it is simple to use.
If you are interested in BudgetPulse, you can learn more on www.budgetpulse.com.