Monday, June 13, 2016

Personal Capital, a useful overview of personal finance.

I still use a very complicated personally developed excel sheet for my budget.  I've cycled through Mint, YNAB (you need a budget), Quicken and a paper budget, but I always come back to my Excel Sheet.  I think each of those programs has a lot of offer to a specific type of budget-er.

Personal Capital, on the other hand, I think has great value for almost anyone.

Unlike the other programs I mentioned, Personal Capital offers an overview of your accounts and balances, including investments, real estate holdings, and other assets.  It's great use is providing a long term view of  finances.

Despite keeping pretty close records of my spending and maintaining a household budget, I didn't have a great way to track our net-worth.  I would add up the balances of all of our accounts every once and while, but it was cumbersome and not particularly accurate.

Personal Capital syncs all of my accounts so that if I want, I can see how my net worth is changing on a daily basis. (I strongly advise against this, however.)  Still, it's useful to watch things changing and to use the information to make better financial decisions for my family and long term goals.

For example, one of our goals as a family it to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible.  However, it's a very long term goal.  Watching the balance decrease graphically over time in personal capital has been a great encouragement, as well as watching our net worth increase.

If your primarily goal is paying off other debts, I think it would be even more useful to be able to see all balances, and progress in one place.

Eventually, when we don't have debt, we can work hard to save and have an easy way to track all of our accounts.

I'd encourage anyone looking to make a first step towards getting controller of their finances to create an account.  Let it track your accounts for a while and then check in when you're ready.

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