April is Financial Literacy Month, a “holiday” designated to promote education, information and learning informed strategies for engaging with your finances. Just because you know how to balance a checkbook or pay your bills on time, for instance, does not mean you are financially literate, and anyone can benefit from learning more.
Financial literacy spans a wide variety of topics: getting out of debt, budgeting, setting financial goals, setting up an emergency fund and retirement plan and so much more. The more informed you are, the clearer your goals can be, and the better your communication with the other members of your household or family with whom you share finances and financial decisions. Here are 10 free financial tools you can take advantage of this month (and into the future).
Mint is a budgeting app that connects all your accounts, from checking and savings to retirement accounts and so on. It provides an overview of your financial picture, allows you to create a budget and will send you reminders for bills coming due or increases in bill amounts.
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Every Dollar, an app by money expert Dave Ramsey, helps you track income and expenses and make plans for purchases. It uses a method called zero-based budgeting, where every dollar is accounted for, and expenses equal your income. In the free version of the app, you must manually enter transactions when you spend money, or you can sign up for a paid version that automatically syncs to your accounts.
Savology Financial Planning Tool
Savology believes that in order to meet financial goals, you need a financial plan, and they make it easy to build one with their simple tool. You create a personal “roadmap” that assigns you specific action items to reach your goals. There are free and paid versions of the app.
In order to become financially independent and meet your financial goals in the near and long term, you need to know your credit score and all the information on it. Credit Karma makes it free and easy for you to access this information now and if you make changes to it.
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Yet another free budgeting app, Pocketguard connects your accounts and finds any recurring bills and income. It allows you to view how much money you can spend every day by subtracting future bills, savings goal contributions and any pre-budgeted money. It also categorizes your expenses, with customizable categories and limits.
Beyond budgeting and bill paying, the next level of financial literacy is investing. When you’re in the financial place to think about investing, Personal Capital, a digital wealth management company, can help you analyze and plan.
360 Degrees of Financial Literacy
The organization of the American Institute of CPAs (certified public accountants) helps people prepare for future financial goals through its website 360Degrees.org by asking you to select your top three life goals. It then creates a checklist of actions that you can take right away to reach these goals and a checklist of things to do in the next year.
The Financial Diet
The Financial Diet is a resource that offers articles that will teach you about almost any money issue you can think up. The founder states, “Our mission is to fundamentally change and improve the way we talk about money, to take it from something shameful or intimidating into something we can all feel confident about.”
SALT (For Students With Loans)
College is often the first time most young people are dealing with their finances on their own, and this includes managing student loans. SALT is a money-management and financial literacy tool created by American Student Assistance, specifically to help students pay back their loans while also learning other important financial life skills.
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