You know how you have all of those online financial accounts that take forever to login to individually when you want to track activity and check balances?
Well, if your financial world is anything like mine, you have over 30 online-accessible financial accounts and you are constantly checking them.
That means that you're spending loads of time typing in an individual username and password for each one. Ugh!
The ridiculous amount of time it takes might even be discouraging you from checking your accounts as often as you need to, right? Not good.
Your online roster of accounts (like mine) may consists of: bank, savings, brokerage, investments, 401k, 401k Rollovers, Roth IRA, Precious Metals, HSAs, etc.
It's a long and ever-growing list and I personally check all of mine daily. I know, it may sound extreme, but let me explain why I do this.
The daily checking of all financial accounts began as a result of my unfortunate brush with identity theft a few years back. This singular event dramatically changed the way I manage my financial life, forever.
And part of that change was that I started checking my accounts daily.
And this identity theft event made it all the more relevant for me to have a tool that would allow for me to check ALL of my accounts in one place, so I could ensure all the activity going on in them was legit.
That's around the time I discovered Personal Capital.
So, even though your reasons for having a place to check all of your accounts may not be born out of a situation like mine, I sill want to introduce you to this amazing tool called Personal Capital.
At the very least, it will make this part of your financial life a little easier.
You will benefit from using Personal Capital if:
1) You're financially disorganized and could benefit from having a centralized location to manage all of your online financial accounts.
2) You have many accounts (bank, savings, brokerage, investments, 401k, Roth IRA, Precious Metals, HSAs, etc.) and want to track them in one place.
3) You hate the process of logging into each of your gazillion accounts to get the information you need.
4) You have a hard time keeping track of what you spend.
5) You want to keep a regular eye on your net worth.
6) You want to keep a regular eye on your shrinking (not growing:)) debt load.
7) You've been the victim of identity theft and want some safeguards in place to monitor the activity of all your financial accounts.
So, no matter where you are on your financial journey, whether just beginning to erase debt, in the middle of the process or even completely out of debt and on your way to building wealth, Personal Capital will benefit you.
Before I started using Personal Capital, it would take me over 30 minutes to login to each account, check all my balances, verify activity and make sure there weren't any shenanigans from would-be hackers or fraudsters.
It was laborious to say the least.
And think about it, for many of our clients and subscribers (and maybe for you), this list would also include, credit card accounts, car loans, mortgage accounts, HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) accounts and various other debt obligations.
Like I mentioned earlier, I started this practice of (at least) weekly-checking my accounts after my identity was compromised back in 2011.
My Social Security Number (SSN) was stolen and a fraudulent tax return was filed under it.
"Horror show" is a phrase that only begins to describe the feeling.
I'll go into more of the details of that in a later post, but suffice it to say for now that it's not fun and I hope it never happens to you!
So understandably, I was a little paranoid about constantly monitoring the state of my financial accounts. Who could blame me, right?
An identity theft event feels kind of like someone breaking into your house and stealing only your most prized of possessions (like like irreplaceable family photos for example) and then just wrecking everything else.
It leaves you with a profound sense of violation.
And that feeling of violation is only compounded by the cleanup activities required afterwards.
Again, I hope it never happens to you.
How many financial accounts do you have? How long does it take to login to and check each one?
So, before we dive more deeply into the details and benefits of Personal Capital, I want you to think about something for a moment.
How many accounts do you have?
How often do you log on to check the balances and to verify activity?
Next, go ahead and start making a list.
Then, go and check each account.
If you're feeling particularly nerdy, maybe you could even use the stopwatch on your phone to see how long it takes to log into and check them all.
And actually, I'd be interested to learn both the average number of accounts the average times it takes to check them.
Seriously, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
Okay, I'm just going to be up front with you about something.
I'm basically a total fanboy of this platform.
My wife and I have been using Personal Capital for two years now and it has dramatically changed the way we're able to track and maintain our personal finances.
I LOVE this tool! Yes, that makes me biased I know, but I think if you try it you'll totally agree.
That thirty plus minute drill I mentioned earlier was what I went through (at least) weekly when I wanted to do a "net worth update".
Now with Personal Capital, it's just one login and I can see EVERYTHING in one place.
Um yes, amazing is the word I was looking for!
Where's your cash? Oh, it's in LOTS of places I'm sure.
Personal Capital is a free online tool (a web portal, if you will) that gives you simultaneous visibility into all of your bank accounts, credit card accounts (only while you’re paying them off, of course:)), investment accounts and others like mortgages and car payments.
Using Personal Capital is gives you the ability to see both the big picture of where you are in you debt elimination process as well as the payment-level granularity of how each of those are being paid down.
We have found it particularly helpful for us and for our clients and subscribers in helping to track all of those monthly expenses that seem to be so hard to track otherwise.
As an example, if you happen to be saving and tracking receipts manually, using Personal Capital will give you that "double check" redundancy on what is coming out of your accounts so you can stay on task.
I would always recommend that you do both: save/track your receipts and use PC to "double check".
As I've mentioned several times now, the fact that you can log into one account and see everything is a huge time saver and eliminates the excuses you may currently be clinging to for not diligently tracking all of your expenses.
Because I check all of my accounts every day (again, upwards of 30 in all), I'm saving gobs of time by centralizing that visibility.
Additionally, once you’re completely out of debt, Personal Capital is a fantastic resource for you to keep track of your overall net worth as it creates summaries of all of your balances (bank accounts, 401k accounts, investment/brokerage accounts, HSAs, precious metals, etc.) in one place. That's mainly what my wife and I now use it for and we love it!
You can sign up for Personal Capital here. I highly recommend you check it out. It will, at the very least, make this part of your life a little easier.
Plus, it's free!
In full disclosure, if you do sign up this blog will receive a small affiliate commission (at no additional cost to you) which helps us to keep the lights on. Read my full disclosure policy
So in review, Personal Capital is a free online software platform that allows you to have a single login to check all of your accounts (bank, investment, credit card, mortgage, car loan, etc.) on one centralized platform.
Okay, check... But what about privacy and security?
Having been a victim of identity theft myself, online security is of paramount consideration in all my decisions of which tools to use or not use. Personal Capital passes all my tests with flying colors.
Obviously for this centralization to be possible, you have to provide your login information to Personal Capital for each of your individual bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, mortgages, car loans and just about any financial instrument you could think of in order to see them on your PC "dashboard".
I personally was hesitant about this for about a year before I signed up for Personal Capital because of my previous identity theft experience.
I mean, I'm about as unwilling as it gets to expose myself to THAT risk again...
So, I did about a year's worth of research and "vetting" of the Personal Capital platform before I was comfortable giving them the login information for all of my financial accounts.
And I can honestly say in the two plus years I've been using it, I have had no worries, regrets or negative experiences. It's just one login to view my whole financial portfolio which I do on a daily basis.
Additionally, it's important to mention that this login to Personal Capital is for your “read only” access into the portal. No actual account activity or account transactions may be initiated or executed in the Personal Capital portal by you or by anyone else.
Again, that was my trepidation about the whole scenario at first, "what if someone is able to steal my Personal Capital login and then get unfettered access to ALL my accounts?!"
I can assure you that this is not possible as again, the portal gives you access for "read only" visibility.
No transactions can be executed.
By the way, your chances of someone stealing your Personal Capital password will be greatly reduced if you use a password manager like Dashlane. Here's an entire article I wrote on why I use a password manager and Dashlane specifically.
Again, I can confidently profess that I've been using Personal Capital for a couple of years now and have had no issues whatsoever with any of my accounts.
So, I hope that helps allay some of your potential identity theft/information security concerns about the platform.
Feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions you may have ([email protected]) or just leave them in the comments below.
Another great feature of the platform is that it aggregates a lot of other data like: your net worth, fees on your investment funds, your current asset allocations and your overall cash flow.
This proves helpful as you ultimately move out of the debt elimination phase into the wealth accumulation phase.
Personal Capital is also a great place to track your accumulating piles of "bling".
Because of the ease of use and the security, we have been recommending Personal Capital to friends and clients for several years.
The elevated level of organization it provides cannot be underestimated.
For example, when we sit down with our debt coaching clients, we're helping them put together all of the elements of their budget (income, expenses and debts).
This almost always includes them combing the far reaches of their memories to try and present the most recent balances on all of their accounts.
When they sign up for a free account with Personal Capital , it immediately eliminates that "combing" and presents all of their balances to all of their accounts in one view.
This also can be super helpful while you’re doing your debt (elimination) snowball as well.
As it gives you a snapshot of ALL of your accounts, you’ll be able to see where your debt is sitting as well.
Even though I'm an admitted fanboy of Personal Capital, my review is not meant to come off as a "hyped" or "pumped" piece about it.
It’s just super convenient tool I've been using. And I want you to share in that convenience and insight along with me.
It really is just a simple and simply amazing tool that helps me track all of my financial life. Plus it's safe, secure, convenient and really quite powerful.
Oh yeah, the other best part about it is that its FREE!
Of course, if you're anything like me, I know you’re probably thinking… “what’s the catch?”
Well, in addition to being a great platform for tracking debt, net worth and all things financial, Personal Capital does also offer investment advisory services.
So, by collecting all of this personal data, they are in essence creating a prospect list for themselves. Brilliant idea, right?
The advisement piece is totally optional. I always "opt out".
Yes, in full disclosure I’ve been contacted by their investment professionals on a few occasions.
And, as I personally do not use a financial adviser, I have politely declined their services every time.
It may be something I take a second look at in the future (their advisory services that is). But for now I’m very pleased with my own results.
Additionally, I’ve not found their marketing contact to be either too frequent or too overbearing.
The advisers who’ve reached out have been very professional, polite and respectful.
They just want you know that the service is available for you to use if you like.
And they definitely don’t want to alienate a potential future prospect (you).
Especially as we get you out of debt and into the building wealth category.
I will continue to use Personal Capital, and to refer friends, family, clients and subscribers as well. It's just a great tool that you should seriously consider using.
The most important practices in debt elimination and wealth building is the necessity tracking your numbers regularly.
You have to do this if you want to win. This is what wealthy people do.
Personal Capital makes that practice very easy to accomplish and is very low friction from an outreach marketing standpoint (i.e. I don’t have anyone reaching out to me every week bugging me to sign up for advisory services).
So again, Personal Capital is a part of my daily “check in” for all our financial accounts and I want to encourage you to consider making it yours as well.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!