Mellody's Best Financial Web Sites

Financial sites

Some of the new financial Web sites can be such lifesavers or least money- savers. So what are the best new sites online right now?

Here are some of my favorites:

Mint

Mint is a money Web site that already has over a million users and has been named best online personal finance tool by Money magazine.

Two great features: It's free and it's easy to use.

You start by creating an anonymous account. You then add your bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts by providing a username and password for all the accounts you want the site to track for you.

VIDEO: Three leading financial Web sites offer guidance for free.
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Mint does the rest, automatically.

It updates your accounts and gives analysis of your spending, budgeting and investing patterns, which are shown in easy to read graphs. The site also uses the information to give personalized advice on how to save money. The site claims it can find $1,000 worth of savings ideas in the first session alone.

By helping you manage your accounts, the site also suggests better banking products to fit your needs. Also, it will send you a text message or e-mail when certain bills are due or if there's any unusual activity on one of your accounts. Worried that putting all this financial information online is risky?

Besides your user name and password for each account, no other information is required. Mint does not store names or personally identifiable information. It has bank-level Internet security and most importantly, you cannot move your money with this tool, you can only view it.

iPhone Apps

IPhones are all the rage right now. The programs that you run on them are called "apps" which is short for applications. They are downloaded from the App store on iTunes. The prices range from free to a few dollars. Here are some some great ideas for helping you with your finances.

The "Loan Shark" app ($5) helps you analyze every aspect of a loan, including amortization schedules, so that you can make the right decision when comparing home or auto loans. Portfolio RT ($9) provides up-to-the-second stock quotes. The Compare Me app ($2) allows you to compare the prices of two retail items of different sizes to see which one is the better deal.

Free Financial Planning Online

Check out SIMPLIFI.NET.

You are much more likely to reach your financial goals if you have a written plan. According to SIMPLIFI, only 5 percent of Americans have one. This site gives lower and middle income Americans the opportunity to get advice and make a plan.

It's easy to use. You give approximate account balances and nicknames for each of your accounts, so no actual personal information is needed. Then, you determine your financial goals. The site uses a virtual financial investor, "Sophie" to help you develop a plan and choose the right investments based on your goals. The site can help you with every aspect of financial planning from savings to investments to debt management.

Best of all, the site is a registered investment advisor, which means it must follow all the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Another great and comprehensive Web site is called Bankrate.com.

The site provides updated interest rates and for mortgages, bank accounts, auto loans, credit cards, among other loans. It's especially useful for choosing a credit card. The site lets you easily compare all the various credit cards out there or even apply for one through the site.

Bankrate.com also has advice for home buyers, small businesses owners and those with personal finance issues. It has some great calculators to help you determine everything from how it will take to pay off your credit card to whether you should lease or buy a car.

I also recommend Google's Tipjar.

Everyone has been tightening their belt this year, so most people think they have saved as much as they can. Google wanted to help people save more, so they created Tipjar, where people can find and submit tips on how to save money.

I went on the site and found this tip, which I like: Give a service instead of an item. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pet when they travel. Or offer to mow the lawn as a gift to a new homeowner in your neighborhood.

You can even vote on the usefulness of the tips, which ensures the most useful ones are front and center.

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