|I'm using Personal Capital to help keep|
my financial house in order.
In today's society, the journey toward FIRE is much easier than when Joe Dominguez and Paul Terhorst first paved the way. We now have the benefit of a host of tools and technologies that were only figments of the CIA's imagination. While using spreadsheets to track expenses certainly isn't a new idea, technology has advanced the practice to a level that would elicit blank stares from anyone who has been away for a quarter century. Today's online budget trackers allow anyone to do for free what might have very well required hours of research and labor to accomplish—in a matter of mere minutes.
|Personal Capital thinks I'm too|
bullish on US stocks.
The expense tracking capability that Personal Capital now provides me is the most valuable bit. In the past, I'd tried several budgets in Excel and then just generally writing down all my transactions, all to no avail. Now with Personal Capital, the vast majority of my transactions get tracked and aggregated within a day or two. I can have a basic snapshot of my finances at any moment along with pretty graphs. I know how to do something similar in Excel, but it would take quite a bit of programing and time to get to the same level. And it wouldn't be on my phone. This is already done for me. As they say, work smarter, not harder. That's the motto I live by.
|Asset allocation graphic on the|
Android mobile app.
Although I don't have enough assets to qualify for advice, it does still show tips and an overview on my home screen (example on the right). Based on the recommendations they've given so far on my home screen, I don't really like their asset allocation. But it could be different if I actually got their advice because I assume they'd tailor it around goals. Right now, they just compare me to their baseline portfolio. When I finally get enough assets under management for them to even want to advise me, I'll give an update as to what their advice entails.
Everything lovely about the web-based version of Personal Capital extends over to the mobilesphere as well. They have an apps for both Apple and Android-powered products that puts the full functionality of the website at your fingertips. (Not yet sure about Windows Phone, their site is a bit mum on that subject too.) Just like the web-based version, their apps show a snapshot of income, expenses, and holdings at any specific moment in time. I actually prefer the graphics on the app better because they seem slightly more concise and are easier to find vs. the ones on their website. They also will give advice via mobile, but see my previous comments on advice.
Of course, all the wonderful things about Personal Capital are only possible if you link your financial accounts. That requires you to enter the login information for any account that you want to link. In this digital age, many are understandably leery about giving login information to their life away. Although we know that even the government can't protect itself, we'd like to know that these companies at least make an attempt to keep our information secure. I'm please to report that so far, I've seen no reason to believe either the site or app are insecure. The website uses https and standard banking industry security features. I've seen better only once or twice. The app requires a 6-digit PIN for login after initial linking with your account. They do NOT ask for personal information like SSN, address, etc., although that might become necessary for the advising side.
In summary, Personal Capital is a solid platform that I'm glad I finally started using. Using it will reinforce the positive change I've finally recently been able to put to my wallet. If you don't already track your finances, then I'd recommend you sign up. It can help you identify where exactly your money is (not) going without you having to feel guilty for forgetting to write down something. If you're already using an alternative (i.e. Mint, manilla, etc.), I wouldn't rush over unless you just feel the urge to have your finances tracked all over the place or you have over $100k in assets invested and want advice. Again, I haven't actually looked into the advice side, but they are licensed by the FTC. If you decide to check it out, leave a comment letting the rest of us know how you (dis)like it!
House image sourced from 401(k) 2013.