12.13.2006

How to keep track of it all…

I work at a college which switched retirement plans but allowed me to leave my older 403(b) contributions with the previous company. I have a bank account, IRA, and a brokerage account. I also have a mortgage, gas and electric bills, various credit cards, cell phones, etc. All told I have about 20 accounts to keep track of.

Many people advise to combine as many accounts as possible, but if you are disciplined and can keep track of it all, some accounts have different options and some credit cards offer different services, so arguments can be made for keeping various options open. If you do not want to consolidate for whatever reason, you are left with the need to get organized.

How can one easily keep track of 20+ accounts? Check out yodlee.com Some banks offer Yodlee’s tools through their sites if you have an account with them so you may have seen this before. This service has been around and been free for a while- if you go directly to yodlee.com.

This service allows you to enter each account and enter your account name and password . Then when you log in to your Yodlee account, Yodlee logs in to each of your other accounts using your information and pulls the details together into one page.

To use a service like this you have to ask how much you trust Yodlee’s security processes and how valuable you find the consolidation. Personally, I love it. Once a month I log on, see my bills, add up how much I own, click on the button to log on to each credit card and the mortgage- Yodlee logs me on automatically without me needing to remember the account name for each site. I pay each bill and I can see if I have any extra money left over to move into my brokerageaccount and invest (not likely this time of year!).

I can see my total retirement savings, my non-retirement savings, my debt, etc. You can add any additional amount- even if you have an account that is not supported by Yodlee. For example, if you own a home, you can go to zillow.com, get an estimate on your home and enter the value as an account. If you have entered your mortgage, it will display your monthly statement as well as your total debt. Looking at your home's value next to its estimated worth you can how much equity you have built in your home.

Sure you can paste all of this into excel, or buy some financial software to help manage this, but Yodlee is free, makes paying bills and transferring funds a snap, and gives a quick snapshot of all your accounts without any maintenance.

1 comment:

credit card analyzer said...

There two strategies you might have in this case. The first one is that you can use the balance transfer option on your credit cards to transfer all your ballances to the credit card that allows you to save more money and close all the ones you don't need. The other one is to have several different cards and use each of them for particular purchases - gas cards to pay for gas, frequent flyer cards to pay for your travelling expenses. Either way will work if you are smart in managing your money.