I make it no secret that I’m a little disorganized with my money. Or, I should say I was disorganized before I put some systems in place to help me not be such a mess.

(You can see the full post here and get the guide here on how Jordan and I organize our money)

I’ve used a lot of things to try and stay organized in the past: spreadsheets, notebooks, post-its. Eventually, I found the free tools that Personal Capital * offers and I was hooked. It keeps me organized and it’s helped to make money conversations with Jordan so much easier.

But, it’s not a perfect tool. I’m breaking down what I like, what I don’t like, plus I recorded a tutorial to show you exactly how I use it.

 

What I like:

  • Hello, organization. I’ve ditched the spreadsheets and can log into my account and see every single account balance that I have all in one place: bank, investment, retirement, mortgage, college savings, credit cards. It also brings in our updated home value from Zillow.
  • The calculators are superior. I’ve used basic online calculators before to see whether I’m on or off track for retirement. But the retirement calculator from Personal Capital let’s me completely customize my full financial picture. If I want to include spending money on a new house or add in rental income that I expect to have in retirement, I can do that. I can put in a goal for how much I want to spend when I’m 65+ and it tells me whether I’m on or off track, and by how much.
  • The fee estimator! I hear over and over how fees are going to derail my investments, but I’ve never spent too much time going through every single investment I have to try and get a handle on my fees. When I connected my investment accounts Personal Capital looked through and automatically listed the fees for every fund I own. This was amazing to see and I didn’t have to do a thing to get that information.

 

What I don’t like:

  • The phone calls. Ok to be honest, these didn’t really bother me, but I can see how they’re annoying. When signing up you have to put in your phone number and they call you to try and sell you on their investment services (which are not free). I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know, so I never picked up when they called. If I had, I might find this more than a little annoying.
  • It took a few tries to get all of my accounts to connect. I don’t know why but for some reason I couldn’t connect my main bank accounts with Capital One 360 for quite some time. I still don’t know how the problem was solved, but it was.
  • They don’t have a tutorial. This is why I made my own. I like being able to know exactly what to use and how, without having to spend time clicking around on my own. It took a little time to find all of the great features they have and figure out how I really wanted to use it.

 

Personal Capital Tutorial

If you want to skip ahead to a certain part of the tutorial, here’s a breakdown of when I go through each section:

  • Login to Personal Capital (1:10 min)
  • How to link your accounts → Net worth calculated (1:38 min)
  • Navigate the dashboard (2:00 min)
  • Cash flow tracking – budgeting 101
  • Portfolio balance – investment tracker
  • Tracking toward your retirement goal
  • Retirement Planner (5:08 min)
  • Education Planner – 529 Plan (9:50 min)
  • Retirement Fee Analyzer (15:00 min)
  • Investing Allocation (17:36 min)

 

Personal Capital Security

When signing up for a new service that has access to your financial information, security is probably top of mind. It was for me.

They give a great rundown of their security measures on the Personal Capital site, but the one thing that made me feel much more comfortable was that they are an aggregator. They cannot execute transactions from my bank or investment accounts. Using them as an aggregator also means I’m keeping a closer tab on my accounts, so it makes it easier to monitor for fraud.

Also, they never send your credentials to your browser. They’re stored in a safer data center (Yodlee).

While there are some minor annoyances I’ve found from using the free tool from Personal Capital – which I covered above – I really am happy to have found it and I love using it. It has had an impact on how confident I am with my money and has improved how Jordan and I communicate. It’s been an all-around win. 

(*note: that is an affiliate link, but it’s a free tool I use and love and really wanted to share. For more information on affiliate links, see this disclaimer.)

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