The art of managing your finances is not hard to master, at least now, when there is a rich choice of software designed to help you track your investments online. The most popular among these platforms are Mint, Personal Capital, SigFig, Moneyspire, and WeVest, to name only few of them.
Each of these financial investment platforms can assist you with creating your budget, manage your portfolio of stocks, mutual funds, bonds, real estates, and cash equivalents, among other investments. Such an embarrassment of riches did not always exist, of course. It is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Only about ten years ago, people who wanted to track their investments almost unanimously resorted to Microsoft Money program, considered then the most reliable. This program kept records on the individual account basis and managed dividend reinvestment plans. It also could calculate each position’s tax basis and gave real-time updates from stock quotes on the internet, thereby providing the latest information to its users.
Since the time when Microsoft Money was closed, a large number of similar programs have proliferated on the internet, some of them hosted online and others downloadable to people’s computers. All of them may prove useful for you, if you seek to manage your financial affairs properly.
The biggest problem investors face these days is managing multiple investment accounts.
According to recent statistics, most people have numerous accounts: a couple of taxable brokerage accounts, one or two mutual funds, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), a 401(k) plan, or even several of these plans.
Having so many accounts and programs means that people’s money is dispersed all over the place. They might track down with some precision their funds in each individual account, but very few of them keep a firm grip on all their money simultaneously.
This is where investment tracking applications come in handy. They are designed specifically to help people constantly follow all their investment accounts by informing them about the performance of their investments and alerting them to the necessity of changing their managerial or investment techniques.
The most advanced platforms allow investors simultaneously track accounts with more than 80 different investment firms. In addition to tracking the investments held in people’s portfolios, they also follow the latest news and the newest stories, doing this in a real time.
Another helpful function of the investment tracking applications is finding hidden fees in all accounts along with determining the owners’ exposure to individual securities. The average risk of the whole portfolio is also accurately estimated with their help. What is also highly useful is that through these portfolios, users can easily connect with customer service and, if needed, ask for a lower cost.
The majority of these application also have a robo-advisor function fully and smartly managing users’ finances. Some of these applications also design charts, graphs, and tables for their users that make the picture of their income, spending, or portfolio contents look clearer and fuller. By comparing users’ performance to their chosen stock market index, these applications also carefully analyze their assets.
In so doing, they inform people about their exposure to certain companies and give them advice on their next move. With the assistance of money tracking platform, users can also define budgets for themselves and thus clearly see how much money they spend on specific categories. If they want, they can analyze investment fees, comparing their accounts to such benchmarks as Dow Jones, S&P 500, or NASDAQ.
There is also a tool in some of investment tracking applications that calculate one’s expected monthly retirement income and projected Social Security income. Weekly email summaries of people’ investments along with their performance are also given.
As a rule, such emails include the breakdown of the week’s top movers, portfolio’s news, and graphics on the performance of the user’s portfolio for the last seven days. To make this information even clearer, some tracking applications offer also a high-altitude picture of users’ investments.
Another option to track one’s investments is a free spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are advisable, because in addition to the assistance with investments, they also rebalance users’ portfolios.
There are two reliable choices of spreadsheets existing these days: Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets. The former is usually used to track the cost basis for taxes on individual lots. They also help estimate aggregate dividend income, mapping it out on an individual schedule. An alert about the user’s ex-dividend date is also provided by Microsoft Excel.
Considered weaker than Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets program accurately updates users’ documents with information from public finance. Internet-based, this program also allows people to access their Google spreadsheets from any location.
Another remarkable feature of Google Spreadsheets program is rebalancing. To rebalance the user’s portfolio, the program asks them to fill up three columns titled “Actual,” “Difference,” and “Threshold.”
The first column calculates how many investments you have in each asset class, taking the required information from the Holding page of the spreadsheet. The second column estimates the difference between the user’s target allocation by class and the real allocation. The third column sets a threshold for each asset class, showing users how much of their actual investments can go from their target allocation before they have to rebalance.
If you have multiple accounts, investment tracking portfolios will help you organize your investments in several locations. These applications masterfully convert dispersed numerous accounts into a well-regulated portfolio that will surely facilitate your successful management of your finances.
Contributed by Erica Johnson