5 Sites to Help You Take Control of Your Finances

November 10, 2008
by Rachel Balik
Good financial planning is more important than ever during these difficult times. Fortunately, advice and guidance are more accessible than ever. The Internet is an invaluable source of tools to assess your situation, plan, budget, curb debt and invest. We’ve found five great sites to help you find your financial footing.

Before you can plan your future, you need to understand your present. Start by asking yourself: How am I doing financially?, a blog by financial journalist Jordan E. Goodman, will help you answer that question and start making improvements. Begin with “Smart Money Strategies: 20s and 30s”; each following page offers advice for the next decades of your life, all the way through your 60s and beyond. The tips are most useful for those already drawing a steady paycheck, as they focus on “establishing your financial foundation.” Get comprehensive answers to questions about taxes, investing, owning vs. renting and how to make the most of what your company offers you.

Once you’ve got an idea of how you’re doing and what your goals should be, you’ll want some help organizing your home budget. Mvelopes is an online budget-management software program that’s based on the premise that most people spend 10 percent more than they earn. Mvelopes seeks to determine where your 10 percent comes from and then helps you eliminate it. It was rated one of the best products in 2006 by PC World magazine and will fully integrate your financial life for you. For example, you can set it up so that you can have information automatically entered from your bank or credit card. Charges for this comprehensive service start at $7.90 per month.
If you’re not ready to sign up for a regimented program, but would like some guidance on how to manage your money, Wi$eUp is a good option. Wi$eUp targets women in Generations X and Y, but anyone can benefit from the numerous financial planning tutorials on the site. Wi$eUp will teach you how to start thinking about your financial future, analyze your current financial situation and employ tools to help you reach them. Wi$eUp is thorough, interactive and cuts to the chase. Get more advice from the site’s financial expert Q &As, seminars and webcasts.

Before you can start stabilizing your future, you need to manage your current debt. has a “Money101” section with a chapter called “Controlling Debt.” It provides a thorough primer on debt that explains what it is and provides tips to help you manage it. You’ll learn about the difference between good debt and bad debt, and discover the best way to pay for houses, cars and even college.
Once you’re feeling secure about debt management and have started to save money productively, you need to find ways to make your money work for you. The American Association of Individual Investors provides a full range of investment education tools. The site has guides on how to do almost everything in personal finance, and also provides directories of discount brokers. AAII is a nonprofit organization; it charges a $29 annual membership fee, but you can view some of its resources for free.

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