I recently wrote a post about embracing and taking advantage of free stuff over paid versions. This mainly referred to the instance that the free version is of equal or slightly lesser quality than the paid version.
It got me thinking about all the free stuff that’s out there for us; so I figured it might be helpful to share some of the free financial resources and tools that are available to us.
If you’re interested in monitoring or improving your finances, then you probably don’t want to be spending money to do it. That would just be silly and counterproductive, right? So here’s a quick overview of some great financial resources and tools that might be helpful on your journey to improving your finances.
Tons of people just love mint.com for their free budgeting software. It only takes a couple of minutes to sign-up and see where your money is going. The site has outstanding security to protect your financial and personal information. The most common praises about Mint.com are that it’s really easy to use, has great visuals, ability to see all your accounts in one place, you can set up tons of separate savings goals and track your progress, categorize and/or analyze you spending, it’s free and they have apps so that you can take it with you.
The only real free place to get your credit report. Once per year, you can get free copies of your credit report from the 3 credit reporting bureaus. It’s exactly the same quality as you’d receive if you went to a place that charged you money or made you do a trial membership. They don’t require a credit card or send you a bill. It’s free and always a great idea to check your credit report at least once a year for potential mistakes or identity theft.
My new favorite place to check my credit score is definitely Credit Sesame. It only takes a couple of minutes to sign-up and find out your credit score. You have the ability to earn badges and they’ll email you when there is a update to your credit score—which is great for forgetful people like me. They have a very user-friendly site, it’s free, it’s the same quality credit score as the one’s you have to pay for. They don’t require a credit card or trial to sign-up either, so it’s overall a win-win for your finances. CreditSesame.com even offers up suggestions to lower your debt and help you save money, as well as tracking your credit score over time.
My recent post about Credit Sesame can be found here.
Almost every bank now offers free bill pay with their checking accounts through online access. If you’re still paying your bills by check and mailing them, you should definitely give your bank’s free online bill pay a shot. You can start out by paying just one of your bills if you’re not ready to jump all in. With the constant increases in postage, bill pay is becoming more popular every day. One of my favorite things about online bill pay is that most times the payments are received way faster than if I’d mailed them off. Everybody should at least try online bill pay once to see how easy, money saving and awesome it is.
Depending on your tax situation, you might be able to do your taxes online for free. Not everybody can take advantage of the free filing on TurboTax, but if you can…it’s much easier than doing them yourself. We don’t qualify for the free edition, but we still use TurboTax to file our taxes every year. They make it so much easier to file our taxes and help me avoid mistakes I’d most likely make if I did them myself. They help you find the deductions you’re entitled to, to help maximize your tax refund or minimize what you’ll owe.
Capital One 360
My absolute favorite bank, ever! I’ve been using Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) for quite a few years now, falling more in-love with them each day. While Capital One 360 isn’t exactly a financial resource or tool (or is it?), it has empowered me to do amazing things with our finances. I use their free online bill pay to pay my bills because it’s better than my physical bank’s bill pay.
Since I only write checks to pay our rent, I got their checks (which includes only 50 checks) for $5.00—and those will last me a little over 4 years. I set-up small daily transfers for 3 different sub-accounts to save money for our car insurance (we pay in full every 6 months to save money), beef up our emergency fund and the most recent addition is to save for Christmas this year. Aside from the checkbook I ordered, Capital One 360 has never charged me any fees and they have very competitive interest rates.
For more information about how awesome Capital One 360 is, see my post Capital One 360 & Why I’m In-Love
Capital One 360 tutorials I made: Creating Sub-Accounts in Capital One 360 and How to Set-up Daily Transfers at Capital One 360
Do you take advantage of free financial resources and tools?
What’s your favorite free one?