Save, Invest, Build Wealth


By in Asset Allocation, Automatic Saving, Budget, Debt, Investing, Money Management, Saving | 10 comments

Plus 15 Top Personal Finance Blogs

There is a dizzying array of financial help online. How can you navigate the various tools to determine which ones are worth your time and effort. In order to make your search a bit easier, we have compiled a list of superior free (or low fee) tools to help with your investment, debt, saving, and spending.

money tools google images lazy man and money

Best Investing Tool: Jemstep

Jemstep Portfolio Manager is a powerful tool to guide investment planning for retirement. In demoing the product I completed four brief sections in less than 15 minutes and had in hand a personalized asset allocation complete with low cost mutual fund recommendations. After completing a very short questionnaire regarding retirement goals and risk tolerance, I downloaded my investment portfolio into the program. Users can also manually input their current holdings. Jemstep analyzed my current investment portfolio and offered recommendations to lower the risk of my portfolio and increase the expected return. Finally, Jemstep created an Action Plan with specific buy and sell recommendations to meet the recommended portfolio.

As a portfolio manager and proponent of low cost index funds, I found the recommendations reasoned and cost effective. For a free service this is an exceptional start for an investor. The specific recommendations and suggested asset allocation gives direction to the investor and assists with portfolio management and planning. It is a great alternative for those that want to go it alone, yet desire a bit of specialized guidance. For a small fee, those with assets in excess of $25,000 (service is free for users with less than $25,000), can sign up for a Premium Account which continuously tracks your progress towards retirement and alerts you to recommended changes in your asset allocation.

Best Debt Tool: Ready for Zero

Debt is a noose on your financial future. If you are struggling with debt and don’t know where to turn or how to get out, this is the tool for you. ReadyforZero is the best way to pay off and manage debt online.

Get started with four easy steps; First input all of your credit card, student loans, auto loans, mortgage and other debt. Second, the secure system crafts a plan and shows the optimal amount to pay on your debt every month. ReadyforZero illustrates how long it will take to get out of debt as well as how much interest you will pay. Reminders encourage you to stay on track so that you can transition from debt to creating real wealth.

Best Saving Tool: SavedPlus

Wealth building is directly related to saving. If you spend all that you earn, you will never be rich. SavedPlus is an ingenious tool  which automatically transfers an amount  (which you designate) into your savings account every time you spend. Research has shown that with automatic saving you don’t even miss the amount saved. Over time small amounts of savings grow into real wealth. Interest rates won’t always be this low, and as interest rates rise, so will the money earned on your savings account.

SavedPlus offers apps for your android and iPhone. Of course, your banking information is secure and you can change your savings amount with ease.

Best Financial Goal Planning Tool: Planwise

Planwise is unlike any tool I’ve seen in the finance arena. After inputting a bit of information, you can see the financial impact of any future spending. For example, want to take a vacation or buy a home? Input the cost projections and the program will give you a graph of how your plan will impact your future financial picture. The program allows projections up to thirty years and you can change the inputs with the press of a keystroke. The alerts make recommendations so you make better financial decisions. Comparing various plans allows you to choose the best financial scenario for your needs. This tool lets you spend with confidence and decide whether the future cost is worth the price of a spending decision.

Plus 15 Top Personal Finance Blogs

Personal finance websites come and go with dizzying speed. The ones that continue to offer solid money advice week after week are worth a look.

  1. The Free Financial Advisor
  2. The College Investor
  3. Wise Bread
  4. Prairie Eco Thrifter
  5. Little House in the Valley
  6. Money Smart Life
  7. Your Finances Simplified
  8. Oblivious Investor
  9. Len
  10. Andrew Hallam
  11. Retire by Forty
  12. The Simple Dollar
  13. Bargaineering
  14. Money Smart Life
  15. The Chicago Financial Planner

Barb Across the Blogosphere

AARP Blog, Help for 50-Something’s Short on Retirement funds

Credit Card, Best of Blogger Series, Barbara Friedberg

The College Investor-Top 10 Female Investors to Follow

Advisor One, Barbara Friedberg Believes in Global Diversification

 What online financial tools do you use? What are your favorite personal finance websites?

image credit; google images_lazy man and money dot com


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I’ve noticed so many PF blogs come and go too! It’s hard to keep track!

    The College Investor

    April 12, 2013

  2. Barb thanks for including me in your list of top PF blogs, very flattered. To say the least, however, Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance belongs on any list of top PF blogs in my book.

  3. Thanks for listing my site, Barb. Thanks for sharing these links. I’ve used Planwise for goal planning. I’ll have to check out a couple of these others. I love graphs and micro-managing my debt and money. 😉

    Little House

    April 15, 2013

  4. Hi SB, Planwise is quite interesting and quite easy to use. You can even embed the tool on your website, for free.


    April 22, 2013

  5. Re: Jemstep…I’m not sure $17.99/month is really that small of a fee for a premium account. I suppose it’s cheaper than paying a human financial advisor, but I wish they offered a free trial to see what I am getting for my money.

    Tim Lemke

    May 6, 2013

  6. Hi Tim, they absolutely do offer a free trial. And, as long is your net worth is less than $25,000, the entire service is free. Good luck. Thanks for stopping by.


    May 6, 2013

  7. Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard of any of these tools before. Jemstep and SavedPlus sound the most interesting, although I would agree with Tim that the $18 fee may not be justified, especially if you have a more-or-less passive, index fund portfolio that doesn’t require a lot of trading.

    Thanks for sharing these!

  8. Barb, thanks for selecting Jemstep as the best investing tool. Much appreciated. Many thanks also to your readers for providing feedback.

    Tim/Anton – I’d like to highlight some points about the fees for Jemstep Portfolio Manager. a Basic Jemstep Account is always free no matter the size of your portfolio. And with that you get an analysis of your current portfolio; a personalized
    investment strategy and portfolio optimized for your situation and goals, and a simple way to track all your investments in one place (including your 401K).

    The premium service offers an action plan of exactly what to buy, sell or hold in each account to get you to your optimal portfolio, taking into account fund quality, fees, tax, concentration risk and multiple other factors to ensure you get individualized, high quality advice. Plus you get continuous tracking
    of progress toward a secure retirement, and instant alerts and guidance when it’s time to rebalance or change investments.

    Jemstep helps people earn more with optimized portfolios that include tax savings and savings of fees, with the average Jemstep user seeing an additional $290k to spend in retirement. The cost really more than pays for itself in the increased returns and fee/tax savings over time and is way less than what you would pay a typical adviser.

    Thanks again!
    Kevin (Jemstep CEO)

    Kevin Cimring

    May 21, 2013

  9. Kevin, thanks for your detailed response. I was looking to do a detailed Jemstep review on my website in the near future and your information helps a lot!

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