Free Finance Tools to Help Make Your Life Easier


September 23, 2016

money tree


Money makes the world go round


“Money doesn’t grow on trees” (it would be super awesome if it did).


These are just a couple of well known phrases we use for one of the most used tools in life – Money/Cash/Wonga/Readies/Dough (and the list goes on).


With that in mind, it can get very complicated to manage it and use it in order to gain what you want – Own Home, Vehicle, Holiday, Savings, Pension and the list goes on. As you can see there is a pattern here with 2 protagonists. Them being:



  • Money (we all need it to buy things)
  • Lists (we all love lists as they help organise and condense information to be better absorbed/learned)

I want to then introduce you to a list of tools that can help you with some of the items many of us aspire to own in life.


1) Budgeting


I believe that budgeting is the number 1 priority item on the list of money tools as it allows you to get a “birds eye view” on your current financial situation.


Budgetbrain – This is a tool developed by Money Saving Expert.


BudgetBrain image“Be prepared. It could take an hour, but it’s likely to be the best-paid hour of work you do all year. If you haven’t got the time now, don’t worry. Start it, and you can come back later if you save it”


Pros:



  • It is very detailed and thorough.
  • It is Free.
  • You can save your progress and come back to it at a later date.

Cons:



  • It can take a long time.

Budget Planner by MAS – This tool is developed by Money Advise Service, a free service launched by the UK Government.


budget planner mas image“How much spending money do you have after you’ve paid your most important bills? Work it out now. Where does your money go each month? Work it out now with our list of items that will remind you of all your expenses.”


Pros:



  • It is very detailed and thorough.
  • It is Free.
  • I prefer the user interface in comparison with Budgetbrain.
  • You can save your progress and come back to it at a later date.

Cons:



  • It can take a long time.

Money Dashboard – This tool is developed by Money Dashboard based in Edinburgh in the UK.


money dashboard image“By showing you exactly where your money goes, Money Dashboard helps you make better decisions about how to use it.”


Pros:



  • Very detailed information regarding your incomings and outgoings as it connects to your accounts using “read-only” access (meaning it cannot make any changes to your accounts).
  • It is Free.

Cons:



  • I haven’t found any that I would class as “cons” but I can imagine some people would be paranoid and wouldn’t want their privacy invaded by having a 3rd party company viewing your personal financial information.

2) Accounting


Some readers have businesses, so just as budgeting is very useful on a personal level, so is accounting on a business level.


GnuCash – This tool is developed by GnuCash.It uses Open Source code and is freely distributed under the GNU GPL license.


GnuCash image


“Designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible,GnuCash allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. As quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.”


Pros:



  • It is Free.
  • It is compatible with Linux, Windows and Mac Os X.
  • It provides graphs and calculations that give you a visual overview of your accounts.

Cons:



  • It is not web based, meaning you have to download it to your pc/mac so it is device dependent.

WaveApps – This tool is developed by WaveApps and it is your “swiss army knife” for business accounting, invoicing and receipt tracking.


WaveApps image“Everything you need to successfully run your small business. Whether it’s tracking sales and expenses, billing customers and getting paid, or paying your employees, keeping your business organised has never been easier.”


Pros:



  • It is Free.
  • It is cloud based so you can access it from anywhere.
  • There is an app that records your receipts.
  • In my opinion it is the best free accounting software out there.

Cons:



  • The only one that I have found is the large Google advert on the top right hand corner.

3) Savings and Investments


Savings Calculator – This tool is developed by Your Wealth.


your wealth image“Whatever your goals – buying your first house, planning for an early retirement – cash savings can help you on your way to achieving them. Finding the right savings account for your needs can help you get the most out of your money; we recommend shopping around at least every year for the best rate.”


Pros:



  • It is Free.
  • It is very easy to use.
  • It is web based and accessible from any device.
  • It uses very large fonts and images so is easily readable.

Cons:



  • For me, I couldn’t really find anything major other than it would be nice to include a list of the best banks to save with and their interest rates (there is our protagonist again: list)

Mortgage Calculator – This tool is developed by the Money Advise Service


mortgage calculator“This tool will help you estimate how much you can afford to borrow to buy a home. We’ll work it out by looking at your income and your outgoings. Mortgage lenders will look at these figures very closely to work out how much they’ll offer you.”


Pros:



  • It is Free.
  • It is very easy to use.
  • Doesn’t take too long (it says 5 minutes but I think this is the maximum).

Cons:



  • Couldn’t really find one, it’s a pretty nifty tool!

4) Financial Claims


Payment Protection Insurance Claims Calculator – This tools is by Have I Got PPI UK


ppi claims calculator“This tool works out how much PPI you could be owed on your credit cards and loans. It takes the average PPI amount charged on your financial products and adds the 8% statutory interest on top”


Pros:



  • It is Free.
  • It is easy to use.
  • Very quick (type in 3 figures and your result is shown).
  • Helps you find out roughly how much you could receive.

Cons:



  • Not 100% accurate

Mis Sold Mortgage Endowment Calculator – This resource is by the Financial Ombudsman


fos logoThis is the only resource I could find when searching for a mis-sold mortgage endowment calculator. It seems to be a bit complex as the resource provided by the Financial Ombudsman is not a calculator, it is an example case of how they worked out the amount of compensation Mr B. was due. This can give you an indicator of how to work your own out.


Pros:



  • Insights into a complex industry of claims
  • Practical example provided

Cons:



  • No actual calculator so you have to use your own

Conculsion


Hopefully this list of resources/tools will help you in your financial decision making process. I have tried to cover a broad scope of areas that you can benefit from by using these tools to your advantage and gain the knowledge you need before you make a financial decision that could potentially in hindsight be the wrong one. As they say, knowledge is power, so use it wisely.

Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community

Author: Yannis Giantzides


(54)