I'm often asked by national newspaper journalists about the best apps, tools or resources that can help people run their finances. In my view the best tools are the ones that can have the biggest impact on your finances in the least amount of time - but which are FREE!
So below I've listed the best I've come across out there that everyone should use and bookmark. They cover all areas including tax, investing, retirement planning and saving. Try all the tools listed and by the time you finish this article you will already have a better handle of your finances.
The biggest problem for most people is judging how much money they will actually need to retire. Not only that but how much do they need to save each month? Also, how much will their current pension pot be worth when they reach their chosen retirement age?
Most people give up when confronted with these questions but here is our fantastic FREE pension pot calculator which answers all of those questions. I've used it to see how much I should be saving now to have the retirement I want. Simply enter your details and calculate your likely pension income in retirement. The beauty of the tool is that you can then vary the numbers and try alternative scenarios such as paying in more a month. Even if you are not worried about retirement now you should be try it today because you will be surprised about the amount of money you need to be saving.
The issue with running your own money (DIY investing) for most people is knowing how to do it. Yet the good news is that learning to run your own money is actually far easier than people imagine. The key is to pick an investment strategy and stick to it through thick and thin. But what is the best investment strategy?
This FREE short series of emails helps answer that. After researching thousands of fund managers and their performance the email series explains what it is that separates the successful managers from their peers. Each of the concise emails will take you just 2 minutes to read a day over a coffee. I use the conclusions to run my own money with just a few minutes effort a month. Plus you will get a FREE e-book titled - 39 Simple ways to pay less tax that anyone can do.
If you are employed you should always check that you are on the right tax code. If you are not then you could be paying too much tax! Use our PAYE tax calculator to make sure you are paying the correct amount of tax. It is incredibly easy to use and just compare the results against your payslip.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
A lot of people don't understand capital gains tax and are often caught unawares. If you have an investment portfolio then it's important that you know how much CGT you could be liable for if you withdraw some money. This CGT calculator is the most comprehensive one I've come across. You can use it to work out whether you have a CGT liability and the amount of tax payable.
Benefits & Tax Credits Calculator
People assume that you have to be unemployed to receive benefits or tax credits - this is a complete myth. People often assume they are not entitled to anything but are pleasantly surprised when I get them to run the following official Benefits calculators.
There are two calculators which between them check whether you are entitled to a host of income-related benefits and tax credits. They only take minutes to use yet ensure you are claiming everything you are entitled to.
Interest rates are likely to go up in the near future which means those of us not on a fixed rate mortgage deal will see our monthly interest repayments rise. This interest rate rise calculator can quickly calculate the impact of a rate rise on your finances. It takes seconds to use.
Just make sure that you enter the original details of your mortgage, i.e the original amount you borrowed and the original term, to ensure that the starting monthly mortgage payment matches yours. Then play around with different interest rate rises to see how much your monthly mortgage payments will change by. Now that you know the answer don't just bury your head in the sand about it, take action and review your mortgage options today.
Getting the best savings rate
With interest rates on savings accounts at historic lows it is crucial that you shop around and get the best savings rates out there. The problem is that there are thousands of savings accounts out there to choose from. Not only that but even once you have found a savings account that pays you a decent level of interest it won't last long before the bank reduces it.
Fortunately there is a fantastic FREE tool out there that can do all this for you. I've been using this rate tracker email alert* tool for 2 years now and it is secure and simple. All you do is enter the details of your current savings accounts and their balances and it will then scan the market and tell you if you can get a better deal. Not only that but it will also email you if a better deal than your existing savings account becomes available. Genius
The '30 Day Money Plan: Take control of your finances in just 5 minutes a day' is a kindle book which takes things even further and shows you the tools that can save you money and sort your finances, for FREE, in minutes a day. It is a best-selling kindle book and previously the number 1 finance book on Amazon. All listeners of our money podcast can claim a FREE copy.
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Alternatively, Hargreaves Lansdown, one of the UK’s largest firms providing restricted financial advice, is offering a £200 John Lewis voucher* to new clients.