Thank you barely crawling infant baby Jesus for your ever-loving mercy. On Sunday, November 5th, you’ll give us all the precious gift of one extra hour due to the end of Daylight Savings. For this, we are thankful!
That’s right, you get 60 whole minutes to do whatever you want! Spend time with your kids, partner, take a hike, binge watch ratchetness on Hulu or clock an extra hour of sleep. But if you’re a self-diagnosed champagne taste with beer-money having spendaholic that has perpetually had “get your financial $hit together” on your to-do list then I would recommend you actually give yourself a chance at checking the box this year. Why not make this the year that you figure out why you consistently have more month at the end of your money. The good news is you don’t have to grab a pencil, paper, protractor and calculator to get this done.
Allow us to introduce you to Personal Capital; one of the single greatest tools you’ll ever use to track and monitor your budget, money and investments all in one place. Yes, there are other tools out there like Mint but we’ve found Personal Capital to be waaay better.
You start with linking your accounts (checking, savings, credit cards, 401(k)s etc.) and inputting your home value which is connected to Zillow. This should take only a few minutes unless you don’t have your passwords. But once you’re done, it’s easy breezy.
Here are a few of our favorite features.
1. You can see all of your accounts in ONE place
For example, if you’re Jim (used in the example below) you can see all of your assets organized by account and category compared against your debts. The difference between the two is your net worth, the single most important number you need to know about your finances. Secondly, Personal Capital tracks your spending so you can see if you’re over or under budget at any time.
2. You receive a monthly report via email
Remember when we paid off our mortgage? That wire transfer for $10,800 plus fees was the final nail in the coffin. We don’t normally go around dropping major coin like that and clearly Personal Capital noticed by highlighting the unusually large increase in spend as a part of my monthly summary. Pretty cool right?
Your summaries also give you a blurb on how well your holdings are performing by week, year-to-date and a snippet of how your net worth has changed over time.
Here’s a preview of what the report looks like.
3. Personal Capital analyzes your portfolio costs for you
Quite honestly, this is the single dopest feature that separates Personal Capital from other tools out there. Remember when I told you that most everyday investors are likely having about 1/3 of their portfolios eroded by fees? Well, when you link your investment accounts to Personal Capital, they calculate how much your investments are costing you over time and prompt you to take action. They also provide you with recommendations and personal services to help you improve your portfolio performance.
You can see that Jim is at risk of losing 21% of his portfolio to fees. Sucks for him! Below is what our’s looks like.
It’s clear that over an extended period of time, a significantly less percentage of our portfolio value (4%) will be lost to fees. This is because we invest almost exclusively in low cost index funds. Secondly, the combined fees that we pay on an annual basis (0.21%) is less than half of their recommended benchmark (0.50%). Whop whoop! That’s more money staying in my pocket, versus paying for your Financial Advisor’s golf addiction.
4. Personal Capital syncs seamlessly with Vanguard
This might seem petty, but as someone who invests with Vanguard it’s a pain in the a$$ to constantly re-enter credentials every time we log in. That has been my experience with mint and it gets old real quick. Even if I just peek into it, I would receive a security alert text, have to answer a security question or both. Instead, Personal Capital just works without me having to do a bunch of work to ensure it keeps working. Not to mention, it integrates with Apple Watch for all you fancy gadget geeks out there.
If you’re serious about getting your financial $hit together, then you absolutely need a tool to help you measure where you are and how you’re tracking. Personal Capital is that tool. It’s free.99 , easy to setup and even easier to use.
If you are a high net worth individual or have some really red flags on your dashboard, you may be contacted after you sign up to schedule time for an investment checkup. They are a for-profit company after all and they offer VERY reasonable fees for their services. If you’re interested then sign up. If not, no harm, no foul. Simply keep using their free tools and go about your business.
Either way, the days of sitting at your dining table overflowing with bills, envelopes and statements are over. Make the most of your extra hour and it will reward you handsomely over and over again.