The Best Free Financial Planning Tools

As the financial market changes, so do the tools we use to navigate it. Today, financial planning tools are more obtainable than ever and provide vital information on dealing with finances.

Everyone can benefit from financial tools and resources regardless of their ages or incomes. Whether you need to keep track of your expenses or want to completely restructure your finances, free financial planning tools can help. Various types of financial planning tools are available to you, and many are accessible online, making them transportable and adaptable to nearly any lifestyle. Learn about the different types of free financial tools you may find to best prepare for your financial future.

Financial Calculators

Financial calculators are generally free tools that use data that you provide, such as your annual income, to produce assessments of your economic status. The calculators are meant to formulate financial projections based on your current financial habits. Additionally, some financial calculators can be used to facilitate currency exchanges, determine certain risk factors for investing and find out how much you owe in terms of interest.

From simple calculations such as splitting shared expenses to more complex ones involving your net worth and financial well-being, financial calculators are invaluable tools. A comprehensive list of the other tasks financial calculators can perform is as follows:

  • Total your student loans
  • Assess your net worth (i.e., your financial health)
  • Determine when you can retire
  • Estimate your federal and state taxes
  • Check your credit score
  • Find how long it will take you to repay debts

Knowing your financial situation is the first step in improving it, and financial calculators can help you recognize your fiscal status. Although the financial calculators primarily offer quantitative data, some calculators may present suggestions on how to improve your current financial situation such as investing your money, lowering your mortgage rate or altering your insurance policies.

Also, many calculators use your results to compare your financial status to others who have used the calculator. To ensure that the advice you receive from financial calculators is accurate, you should examine the quality of the source. For instance, websites sponsored by reputable financial organizations may be trustworthy.

Financial Software and Programs

Software and programs are ideal tools for users interested in changing their financial situations. Whereas financial calculators merely report information, computer software can guide you through the process of making budgets or managing your taxes, for example. It may effectively monitor your spending, reduce your debt, plan your retirement, invest your money and repay student loans as well. Typical financial software can connect to your banking accounts, previous tax records and retirement plans. In doing so, all relevant financial information is conveniently compiled into one place. However, not every program is free, and you must pay attention to hidden charges that may make some free programs costly.

Financial software and programs can provide two basic types of financial services, money management and tax preparation. Within each category, financial programs may offer exclusive resources. Money-management programs may offer any of the following resources:

  • Budgeting worksheets, tips and templates
  • Automatic bill payment options
  • Regular finance reports and statements
  • Stock quotes and investing advice
  • Projected spending habits
  • Retirement savings information
  • Succinct charts and summaries of your finances

Most programs and software can also run the same calculations that financial calculators can and send pertinent financial information to tax-based software. While Excel and many other money-management software cost money to download, free alternatives are available. Google Sheets, for instance, mirrors the operating system of Excel and is easy to use. It has built-in templates for making budgets, and the structure of a blank spreadsheet can keep you organized. Despite the added time required to enter in your financial information, Google Sheets is a classic budgeting tool that can save you from making poor financial choices.

Conversely, tax-preparation software has resources specifically tailored to filing taxes. For instance, definitions of common tax terms will be included and all necessary federal and state tax forms will be accessible to you. Many tax programs check the completed forms for errors and give you updates on the status of your tax returns via email. These types of programs may also enable you to communicate with qualified financial advisors upon request.

If you utilize free financial software or programs, then you are sure to reduce the amount of stress associated with managing your money and feel confident that you are practicing safe and effective spending and saving behaviors.

 

Note: Because of the information financial software and programs demand to function, you should inspect the security and safety of each one you use.

Finance Applications

While financial software and programs are great resources at home or at places with a computer and internet access, finance applications are portable and can be just as advantageous as traditional software and programs. Free mobile apps enable you to receive useful financial advice on the go. Although, many finance programs have free mobile apps that you may install to take advantage of their unique features on your smartphone. Still, applications differ from computer software and programs in that they often require additional effort. Instead of relying on the programs to track your spending and account information, you must input your financial information manually.

Common types of finance applications include budgeting, tracking, investing and management apps. However, many apps incorporate multiple financial services to give you the best experience possible. For instance, you can find apps that both track and allow you to manage your money. Therefore, you can utilize free finance apps to combine your financial accounts into one app to easily check balances, pay bills or move funds. This is especially beneficial if you have numerous store loyalty cards, credit cards, debit cards, etc. Additionally, some investing apps may permit you to view your portfolio, watch stock values and invest simultaneously.

Other Financial Tools

Other free tools that can greatly affect your financial management strategies are often overlooked. Depending on the amount of financial assistance you need, resources that you already own may suffice. For instance, a notebook and envelopes can be used to track your expenses and spending. You can easily write down your expenses in a small notebook to maintain a clear picture of your financial situation, and dividing your money into envelopes to use rather than credit can help you stick to your budget.

 

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