Use your PC to get richer
These programs and websites will help you to master money and grow your wealth.
In the late Eighties and early Nineties, the network which grew to become today’s World Wide Web was still the domain of academics and techies. Hence, there were no websites to help young adults like me to manage our money.
Instead, I relied on pen and paper in order to track my income and outgoings. Believe it or not, I still have the little red notebook in which I used to note the details of every single transaction I made. Every day, I would faithfully record every penny spent, whether by cash, cheque or card. Sometimes, this was quite difficult -- especially after trips to the Student Union bar!
The wonders of the Web
When I started work in an office, I replaced my little red book with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets which I designed to monitor my spending. From 1994 onwards, as the Internet started to take off in the UK, I found more and more programs and websites to help me master my money.
Today, there are literally thousands of programs and websites that you can use for money management. Here are a few of my favourite tools to master money, divided into 10 categories:
Sensible budgeting is the foundation of good money management. Indeed, if you don’t measure your money, then you’ll never be able to manage it properly.
So, try the budget calculator at government site Money Made Clear or register for Lovemoney.com’s free budgeting and banking service. However, if you want something PC-based, then try the free personal finance software on offer at Download.
If you’re going shopping online, then be sure to take full advantage of online discounts and voucher codes (try MyVoucherCodes), cashback offers (Quidco and TopCashBack) and price-comparison websites (Kelkoo and Google Products). Also, don’t forget old favourites Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.
3. Online banking
All major banks offer online-banking services to their personal and business customers. These enable you to monitor your balances, set up and cancel payments, receive and send messages, and so on. However, you can go one better with an account aggregation service which combines all of your accounts in one place. You can also set yourself a budget using this tool.
How long will it take you to pay off a balance of £1,000 on a credit card which charges 1.25% a month in interest and has a minimum monthly repayment of 2% of the outstanding balance? This is far too hard to do on paper, but it’s easy with the calculator at What’s The Cost? (The answer is 256 months, by the way!)
For more help with borrowing, try lovemoney.com’s Destroy your debt goal.
How much must you save each month, at a yearly interest rate of 3%, in order to have £2,000 in two years’ time? The answer, according to Calc Calc Calc, is £80.79 a month.
For more help with building a nest egg, try our Build up your savings goal.
7. Investing and pensions
My favourite website for investing is The Motley Fool, lovemoney.com’s sister site, for which I’ve written since 2003. I’m also a fan of the Financial Times and Reuters for business news. Also, try lovemoney.com’s Make money from the stock market goal.
One of the best times to develop good financial habits is when you leave home for university or college. Again, DirectGov helps young adults get to grips with money management, as does the Student Loans Company.
Millions of cons, crooks and criminals are waiting to steal your hard-earned cash. So, learn how to spot and avoid scams with Consumer Direct, be sure to keep your PC safe, and read our Scams archive.
10. Tax return
Completing a yearly tax return is a boring but necessary task for millions of us. Rather than filling in a paper SA100, file yours online at HM Revenue & Customs. It’s quicker, easier and comes with built-in error-checking.