Budgeting, bill paying, health care spending, investing, taxes, insurance, argh! It’s not easy to stay on top of it all. So here are some new ways to get your finances organized.
Track your health care spending: Try SimpleeONE. It’s bad enough if you are ill or injured and need expensive medical treatments, but the subsequent tsunami of paper statements, bills, and notices from multiple health care providers and insurance companies can be overwhelming. SimpleeONE turns awful into awesome by organizing all of the information in one place.
Set up an account on its website (consumers.simplee.com), or download the Simplee app from iTunes. SimpleeONE pulls in billing information from about 80 percent of insurance providers (and counting) and clearly lays out how much your insurer will cover of each bill and what you’re expected to pay. It also tracks your deductible and gives you plain-language descriptions of the services you’re paying for. And it hunts down billing errors and offers saving tips.
Save more for your goals: Try Choose To Save (choosetosave.org), a one-stop resource for budgeting tools, calculators (including ones that analyze your auto insurance, help you pay off credit cards, and estimate your Social Security benefits), and general advice on how to get your finances in order. The information is often customized for specific goals, whether you’re saving for a car or college or planning for retirement.
Choose to Save’s Ballpark E$timate (available online or through an Android or iPhone app) quickly determines approximately how much you’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement. Cost: Free.
Prepare your tax returns: Try TurboTax, TaxACT, or H&R Block Program. Whether you take your wads of paperwork to a tax preparer every year or take on the task yourself, tax-prep programs are a good idea. They help you get a handle on your financial life. You can use them online, via CDs, or mobile apps. H&R Block’s Deluxe CD was a favorite. Its simple design and easy navigation made it a good choice for DIY tax novices. If you’d rather do your return online, Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart found TurboTax’s Deluxe online version better than its CD, as well as H&R Block’s Deluxe online program. But if you run your own business or have a complex investment portfolio to manage, you should probably stick with a professional tax preparer.
Cost: To prepare and file a federal and one-state return online, TurboTax recently charged from $28 to $112; TaxACT ranged from $15 to $70; and H&R Block’s offerings were $28 to $87. Get lower prices with online coupons or deals through your bank, insurer, investment company, or employer.
Keep tabs on your bank account: Try mobile banking. If you haven’t already taken advantage of your bank’s online services, it’s time to make the move and maybe try mobile banking. You can access your accounts from anywhere to check balances, transfer money, and see which checks have cleared, what fees you’ve been charged, and even whether an unauthorized charge or withdrawal has been made. By paying bills electronically, you can schedule payments and avoid annoying late fees. And with mobile banking, you can deposit checks with your smartphone, send money via e-mail or mobile phone number, and check your account balance.
Cost: Free at most banks and credit unions.