How Do You Compare With These 16 Personal Finance Statistics? (2023)

How Do You Compare With These 16 Personal Finance Statistics? (2023)

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy personal finance statistics.

They provide no actionable takeaways whatsoever but it’s fun to see how you stack up with your peers.

Here are 16 personal finance statistics based on the year 2020. How do you compare?

1. Average 401(k) Balance by Age

The average 401(k) amounts by age per Nerd Wallet/

  • Ages 20-29: Average 401(k) balance: $11,600. Median 401(k) balance: $4,000.
  • Ages 30-39: Average 401(k) balance: $43,600. Median 401(k) balance: $16,500.
  • Ages 40-49: Average 401(k) balance: $106,200. Median 401(k) balance: $36,900.
  • Ages 50-59: Average 401(k) balance: $179,100. Median 401(k) balance: $62,700.
  • Ages 60-69: Average 401(k) balance: $198,600. Median 401(k) balance: $63,000.

To me, this seems to be a little bit low. It’s no wonder Americans are having a hard time retiring!

2. Amount of Interest Payments Over a Lifetime

“The typical consumer will pay $279,002 over their lifetime in interest payments.” (

That’s crazy! And it’s only in interest payments, not even the principle. Imagine what you could do with nearly 300k!

Would you rather have excellent credit or one million dollars? | Simplifinances

3. Excellent Credit or $1,000,000?

“Nearly a third (32 percent) of respondents would rather have “excellent” credit than receive one million dollars.” (

We place such a high value on having a great credit score in our society when, in reality, all it means is how good are you at borrowing debt. 

I would take the mil in a heart beat.

Related: How to Increase Your Credit Score

4. Emergency Fund Savings By Generation

“59 percent of Millennials have set aside an average of $9,100 in an emergency fund, more than older generations (Gen X-ers have $8,700, while Boomers have $7,100).” (

That’s pretty good for millennials!

But remember that having to much cash in a low-bearing interest savings account is a risk because you’re losing purchasing power due to inflation.

It’s a good idea to learn how to put that money to work.

Read: Where to Stash Your Cash

5. Average Earning With Bachelor’s vs. High School Degree

“Those with a bachelor’s degree make an average of $1,000,000 more than those with just a high school diploma.” (

The value of a four-year education is under scrutiny, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. You’re going to make more money in your life if you complete a bachelor’s degree.

That may not be true in all circumstances, and you may be doing fine without a degree, but that’s quite a bit of money.

Read: How Much Does College Cost?

6. Coming Up With Savings

“1 in 3 Americans can’t come up with $2,000 in case of an emergency” (

What this study is talking about is 33% of Americans couldn’t come up with this amount of money without having to sell something or go into debt. Hopefully, this isn’t you!

Read: Using the Jars Money Management System to Manage (AND SAVE) Your Money

7. Paying for Medical Bills

“One-third of Americans would not be able to handle a $100 medical bill without going into debt.” (

These are probably the same folks that couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they had to. That’s a lot of people living on the edge of a financial crisis!

8. Amount of Debt at Death

“Americans are dying with an average of $62K of debt.” (

Hopefully, you don’t compare to this personal finance statistic because that would mean you’re dead. But because you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’re alive.

Think of how many Americans die each year. That’s a lot of unpaid debt that puts a lot of strain on close family members.

I’ve worked with retired individuals before and you’d be surprised to know how many of them are still carrying their student loans with them with no plans to pay them back. 

How much debt would you leave behind if you passed away?

Related: 3 Debt Pay Off Strategies to Destroy Your Debt

How do women view men with debt? | Simplifinances

9. How Women View Men With Debt

“Women view men as unattractive if they have a lot of debt. For men, physical appearance carries more weight, and debt doesn’t play a role.” (

Guys, it’s unattractive if you’re carrying a lot of debt. For the ladies, it’s ok as long as you’re good looking? 

10. An Attractive Person Won’t Date Someone With Bad Credit

“40% of people who self-identify as very attractive wouldn’t date someone with bad credit; more than 60% wouldn’t walk down the aisle with them.” (

Going back to the fact that we place a high value on credit scores, it can be embarrassing if you’re dating someone and they find out that you have a low credit score!

If you want to increase your credit score and date someone attractive, read this: How to Increase Your Credit Score. Also, learn how to read a credit report.

11. Checking a Partners Finances Before Marriage By Gender

“4 in 5 women think it’s very important to check your partner’s finances before marriage — only 3 in 5 men do.” 

Marriage is a big commitment!

Make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into.

I probably wouldn’t ask for a credit report on your first date, but discuss finances before tying the knot.

12. Average Holiday Credit Card Debt & Time to Pay It Off

“The average American racked up $1,054 of post-holiday credit card debt, which will take the average respondent 10.28 months to repay!” (

Right in time for the holidays again, yay!

13. Combining Finances As A Couple

“55% of couples combine their money, up 4% since last year.” (TD Ameritrade)

What do you guys think? Is it better to combine your finances with your significant other or keep them separate?

My wife and I have had our finances combined ever since we got married.

Spending more on coffee than saving for retirement | Simplifinances

14. Coffee vs. Retirement

“27% of the millennials are spending more on coffee each month than saving for retirement.” (LendEDU)

When you learn about the latte factor, this can have a massive impact on your retirement! 

15. Restaurants vs. Retirement

“49% of millennials were spending more on restaurants and dining out each month than they were saving for retirement.”

I’m not surprised to see this because eating out can get expensive!

And I get the mentality that a lot of millennials have, “why save my money for retirement when that’s so far away? Plus, I could go for a nice burger right now.” 

16. Average Amount Millennials Save Per Month Toward Retirement

“Amongst millennial respondents that were saving for retirement, the average amount saved per month was $480.″

That’s decent!

If you’re saving that amount of money per month starting at age 25 and continue until you retire at 65, you’re going to have over $3,000,000

Personal Finance Statistics Conclusion

These were a few of the many personal finance statistics. And things are always changing, so it’s hard to know what is accurate.

If you’d like a better idea of how you stack up against your peers, download a personal finance app called Status Money. It will show you how you stack up to peers your age, even in your area, for things like net worth, debt, and savings.

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for an attractive mate, it’s essential to not only have a good credit score but avoid debt as well.

I hope these personal finance statistics inspire you to take some action!

16 personal finance statistics | Simplifinances

How Much Does College Cost? Here’s What It Cost Me

How Much Does College Cost? Here’s What It Cost Me

One question most people have asked themselves whether they’ve attended college or not is, “how much does college cost?”

I’ve asked myself that question a number of times.

And now that I’m done, I wanted to find out exactly how much college cost me. The total cost of tuition minus financial aid and scholarships to see what my out-of-pocket cost was.

I recently finished my master’s degree and added up the cost of my associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree.

There’s no doubt my situation is not applicable to everyone. And if you’ve thought about going to college, it could give you a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay for college if your situation is anything like mine.

Here’s how much college cost me.

Related: How to Hack College: 4 Steps to Graduate Debt-Free

Here’s What College Cost Me

Associates Degree

After high school, my goal was to go to the University of Utah. Luckily, things didn’t end up working out and I made the decision to go to a 2-year college.

A decision that saved me over $24,000.

And at the time I was bummed because the University of Utah is the flagship university in my state and I didn’t look into how much it would cost me. In hindsight, not going there for the first two years was the best decision.

I attended Utah Valley University. It’s a 4-year university but I only stayed there for 2 years to complete my general education.

Because my mom was a single mother and I was a dependent on her tax return, I qualified for the full Pell Grant.

Here is the cost broken down by semester and how I paid for it.

Utah Valley University

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancingSource
2010 Fall$2,257$2,775Financial Aid
$10Cash Payment
2011 Spring$2,175$2,775Financial Aid
$20Cash Payment
2011 Summer$808$808Cash Payment
2011 Fall$1,972$2,775Scholarship
2014 Summer$1,460$1,412Financial Aid
$48Cash Payment
2014 Fall$2,749$2,865Financial Aid
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding

Even though it took me nearly 5 years to get my associate’s degree, I was at Utah Valley University for 2 years. The three-year gap between 2012 and 2014 was when I moved to Texas for a church service mission.

The total cost of an associate’s degree was $11,421. But you can see that the total amount of funding was $2,067 more. And this is because after receiving the full amount of financial aid for both years, a scholarship I earned in high school of $2,775 was applied.

I used that extra money to pay for books, room & board, etc.

And after completing my associate’s degree, I then transferred to the University of Utah.

Bachelor’s Degree

I graduated with a degree in business administration in December 2017 from the University of Utah. I knew it was going to be a stretch and the cost of it almost kept me from going.

My plan was to get a degree in finance but I realized corporate finance was not my thing. It also would have cost me more.

Here’s what my four year degree cost me:

The University of Utah

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancingSource
2015 Spring$3,734$2,865Financial Aid
$869Cash Payment
2015 Fall$4,126$2,412Financial Aid
$238Cash Payment
$5,705Student Loan
2016 Summer$1,908$1,908Cash Payment
2016 Fall$6,156$3,813Financial Aid
2017 Spring$6,096$2,375Scholarships
$2,333Financial Aid
2017 Summer$3,810$3,810Cash Payment
2017 Fall$7,220$2,935Financial Aid
$1,060Cash Payment
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding

I was at the University of Utah for 3 years. This was the most expensive degree for me. I had to borrow student loans in my first year to cover the cost.

It was a bummer but I had to do it. However, I paid off the student loans by the time I graduated.

The average cost of tuition for a four year degree in the US is $35,572.

The total cost of tuition for me was $38,423.

With that, I was just over the national average for a bachelor’s degree. The fall of 2015 was the first time that I had to borrow student loans. That was a bummer but I had to do it.

Master’s Degree

After finishing my bachelor’s degree I took a semester off and decided to move to Texas for a master’s degree. The master’s degree was in personal financial planning and I chose Texas Tech for three reasons:

  • The cost of tuition was low
  • I received a scholarship and qualified for in-state tuition
  • And received a fellowship that help cover the cost

In hindsight, I’m very happy with my decision to get my master’s degree there.

Related: How to Embrace Financial Success in Your 20’s

Here is the cost broken down by semester.

Texas Tech University

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancing Source
2018 Fall$9,468$7,315Scholarships
$2,153Cash Payment
2019 Spring$7,936$6,485Scholarships
$1,450Cash Payment
2019 Fall$8,527$6,997Scholarships
$1,530Student Loans
2020 Spring$4,845$2,063Scholarships
$2,087Cash Payment
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding

You can see that I no longer qualified for financial aid for a master’s degree. Because of that, getting scholarships was more important to me.

I did borrow $1,500 in student loans during my time at Texas Tech but also was able to pay that off by the time I graduated.

How much does college cost? | Scott Henderson at Texas Tech University | Simplifinances

The Total Cost of College

I’m grateful that I was able to qualify for financial aid and I thank the Department of Education for helping me complete my education.

And I’m grateful for all of the donors that trusted me with a scholarship. I wouldn’t have been able to complete college if it wasn’t for them.

Here is the total cost of college:

Total Financial AidTotal ScholarshipsOut-of-Pocket TotalTotal Student LoansTotal Cost

Is College Worth The Cost?

Now that I have a good idea of how much college cost me, I can accurately assess whether or not college is worth the cost. The total cost of college for three degrees was $80,617. That seems like a lot, but that’s accurate because I didn’t pay that out of pocket.

I only paid $19,539 between student loans and personal savings. And that was over a 10 year period. And you also have to factor in the cost of living during those years, also the opportunity cost if I wasn’t working.

Honestly, there were a lot of mistakes I could have made in college but tried to avoid them.

So, was college worth the cost?


Here’s why:

  • I took advantage of the financial aid that was available to me
  • Scholarships that I aggressively pursued
  • I constantly found ways to decrease my cost of living
  • Through college, I was always working and making side income so I didn’t have to borrow much in student loans
  • I won’t be repaying student loans for the next 10+ years
  • And ultimately, it was worth it because I can demand a higher wage for the rest of my working career. It took a few years of sacrifice upfront but I know my income will be higher because I have a master’s degree.

If you’re still wondering if college is worth it and how much does college cost for you, the answer depends.

But don’t let the cost of it keep you from continuing your education because it may be less than you think. And if you can take advantage of the help that is available to you, it will be that much more worth it.

Why Is College So Expensive?

College has increased 100% in the last 20 years. That means college is now twice as expensive as it was in 2000. That’s crazy! And nothing has increased at that same rate.

College is expensive. And it’s only getting more expensive.

You may not qualify for financial aid. You may not receive any scholarships. College tuition in your state may not be as affordable as Utah and Texas. You may have to borrow an insane amount of student loans at high rates to finish your degree.

If this is you, you really have to ask yourself if college will be worth it. As the cost of tuition rises, we have to scrutinize college.

As college gets more and more expensive, I have to help my son decide in 16 years if it will be worth it. I honestly don’t know if it will be. He most likely won’t qualify for financial aid. He’ll have to get scholarships, borrow student loans, and work his way through school.

I started a 529 college plan for my son before he was born but my plan is to only help him cover the cost of room and board and a computer. I don’t plan on paying tuition for any of my kids.

Read: Should I Set Up A College 529 Savings Plan?

The Bottom Line

As college gets more and more expensive, I have to help my son decide in 16 years if it will be worth it. I honestly don’t know if it will be. He most likely won’t qualify for financial aid. He’ll have to get scholarships, borrow student loans, and work his way through school.

I started a 529 college plan for my son before he was born but my plan is to only help him cover the cost of room and board and a computer. I don’t plan on paying tuition for any of my kids.

You may be reading this for yourself or you may be reading this for a child. And if you are, you may still be wondering how much does college cost. I can’t give you that answer because so much depends on the situation. But I’ve given you a clear idea of what it costs me and told you if it was worth it for me or not.

8 Investing Mistakes I Made With My Roth IRA

8 Investing Mistakes I Made With My Roth IRA

When you were younger, were you ever told investing was important but didn’t have the slightest clue how to get started?

When I was a teenager, I knew compound interest was important and wanted to get started as soon as possible.

And so I did.

But this led to many investing mistakes! Things I wish I could go back and change. But sometimes the best way to learn something is to just start doing.

So here’s 8 investing mistakes I made while getting started with my Roth IRA.

1. I Picked Bad Investments

The first investing mistake I made was I started out by putting money in a CD, buying silver coins, or letting it build up in my savings account.

Turns out, these were bad investments and I wish I could have started with something different.

This was before I even knew what a Roth IRA and I was simply interested in investing and so a Certificate of Deposit and silver coins seemed like a logical thing.

2. Waited Too Long to Get Started

When I first started earning income at the age of 12, I wish someone would have told me to start my Roth IRA. 

I didn’t realize how powerful Roth IRAs were until the age of 22.

That’s when I finally decided to start one. 

That’s 10 years during great economic conditions that I didn’t have my savings invested in the market. Even though I felt like I waited too long to get started at age 22, according to Motley Fool most people don’t start saving for retirement until age 31.

When I decided to start one, I was banking with USAA and spoke with one of their financial representatives.

I told him I would like to open a Roth IRA which required a minimum of $500 to fund and an automatic monthly contribution of at least $50.

I said ok, and in February 2016 I started my Roth IRA.

3. Took Someone Else’s Advice

I trusted whatever the guy from USAA said, not really knowing what I was doing. Once I signed the papers, I was just glad I had started one. 

This later turned out to be a big investing mistake.

The person from USAA told me what he thought would be a good investment for me and I took his word for it.

Even though I later found out why taking someone else’s advice was a bad idea, I diligently maxed out my Roth IRA of $5,500 (the contribution limit for 2020 is $6,000).

4. Didn’t Know What I Was Invested In 

Because I was young, being somewhat aggressive was important to me. I went with the most aggressive 100% equity mutual fund (so I thought), which was called the USAA Cornerstone Aggressive Retail (UCGAX).

It was made up of large-cap and blended funds and has a Morningstar rating of below average

I started tracking my returns over those few years and wanted to understand how it all worked but it somehow always ended up being quite a bit lower than benchmarks such as the S&P 500 or Russell 2000.

Looking back, I honestly had no idea what I was invested in. At least I got started and was putting money into it every month, right? 

5. Didn’t Pay Attention to Fees

Fees were not something I considered when I opened a Roth IRA. It was something we didn’t discuss on the phone, I just took the reps word for it.

However, a year or two later, I started learning about fees and the impact they can have on a portfolio over an investing lifetime.

I dug into the fine print of the USAA Cornerstone Equity Fund and figured out how much I was paying in fees (more on that later).

Turns out, companies like to make it difficult to find how much you’re paying in fees and what the long-term impact on a portfolio would be.

6. Bought Actively Managed Funds

While digging into the fine print years later, I discovered I was invested entirely in actively managed mutual funds and was being charged a 1.2% expense ratio!

Meaning, they charged 1.2% of my portfolio annually.

These are high fees! And I didn’t even have access to a financial advisor.

And the fees were even higher when you factored in trading costs, cash drag, etc. 

The person on the phone told me, “don’t worry so much about fees because what you’re paying for is someone to actively manage your investment instead of just letting it sit in some boring old index fund.” I thought, “what’s an index fund?”

Here’s what’s funny, I actually believed him. I thought, “of course, if you pay more in fees you’re going to get a higher rate of return, right?”

Over 90% of the time that’s false. Unless you’re Warren Buffett.

7. Left Too Much In Cash

When I first started transferring money from my bank account to my Roth IRA, I was making the mistake of thinking that was all I had to do.

After some time, I realized the cash I transferred was sitting in a money market account which is basically the same thing as a savings account!

Related: Where to Stash Your Cash

I didn’t realize I had to actually go in and invest the funds myself. 

When I started deploying the cash, I thought I was in a 100% equity fund.

But their most aggressive option was between 70% – 80% equities and 20% – 30% fixed income. This money was going to be invested for 40 years and I was sitting on nearly 30% bonds in my early twenties!

That didn’t make any sense.

8. Compared My Results With Benchmarks

Comparing my results was one of the investing mistakes because it caused unnecessary stress.

But in the end, it was good because I compared my return against the S&P 500 and was underperforming quite a bit ( I should say A LOT).

I didn’t get it because it was “actively managed.”

During my first year, my investment earned 5.65% gross of fees. So my net return was 4.45%. 

That same year the market as a whole earned a rate of return of 21.31%!

Only one year did the fund perform better than the S&P 500 because it lost less money (which was in 2008).

Related: I Don’t Know How to Invest & I’m Scared I’ll Make a Mistake

What Changed For Me?

For those that aren’t sure of what a Roth IRA is and why you would want to open one, I will share a few things.

If you already know the benefits of a Roth IRA, go ahead and skip to the next section. 

A Roth IRA is simply a retirement savings account that anyone with earned income can start. “Roth” is the last name of Senator William Roth, the person who came up with the idea.

And “IRA” stands for “Individual Retirement Account.” 

The money you deposit has already been taxed. So when you go to withdraw the funds at age 59½ or for qualifying reasons before age 59½, you don’t have to pay taxes on what you withdraw. 

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA | Simplifinances

How Are Roth IRAs Taxed?

Imagine you’re a wheat farmer. You plant seeds and harvest the wheat.

Would you rather pay taxes on the seed or the harvest?

Your decision is solely based on whether you think taxes will be more in the future.

You’ll pay tax on the seed now if you think taxes will be higher in the future or pay taxes on the harvest if you think taxes will be lower in the future.

I’m a big fan of the Roth IRA, especially if you’re young, even if your employer offers a 401(k) (which you should be contributing to also).

However, if you also open a Roth IRA, instead of contributing more to your 401(k) above and beyond the employer match, you could put that extra money in a Roth IRA.

Why would you want to do that?

Can You Access Money In a Roth IRA?

You can take your contributions out of a Roth IRA anytime you want.

You may withdraw your contributions penalty-free at any time for any reason, but you’ll be penalized for withdrawing any investment earnings before age 59 ½ unless it’s for a qualifying reason such as purchasing a house, education, or the Coronavirus pandemic.

Age 60 may sound like an eternity and who knows what’s going to happen between now and then. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to access your funds if you really needed them?

I recommend not taking the money out but isn’t it nice to have options?

If you have all of your money tied up in a Traditional IRA or 401(k), the only way you can access any funds before age 59 ½ is paying a 10% penalty or taking out a loan against it. Or if something like the CARES Act comes along.

I Jumped On The Vanguard Bandwagon

After learning about fees, asset allocation, and risk tolerance, I sought out the best investment for myself. I stuck with USAA for about a year and decided to start looking at Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

The fees are lower, I could have my target asset allocation, and they’re more tax efficient.

But even the funds I was finding had an expense ratio of ~0.30%.

So after exhausting my options, I decided to jump ship and transferred my Roth IRA to Vanguard

Vanguard was started by a man named John Bogle in 1975 with the goal of bringing to the individual investor the option to invest in broad-based low-cost index funds.

And as the name implies the company has been a vanguard in the financial services industry. Their average net expense ratio is 0.10% (U.S. asset-weighted fund expenses as a percentage of 2018 average net assets).

Why a Vanguard Roth IRA?

Their core purpose is, “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.”

I’m a big fan of Vanguard and when you combine it with the benefits of a Roth IRA, the chances of investment success start to look really nice. 

I invested the majority of my funds in the US stock market with a little exposure to the rest of the world.

Now I wake up every morning knowing every person in America goes to work to make me rich. By owning the entire stock market, I own a small share of every publicly traded company in the U.S.

So I ended up investing in ETFs such as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF (VTI) which had an expense ratio of 0.04% and is now 0.03% and the Vanguard Total World Fund ETF (VT) which has an expense ratio of 0.09% (Average expense ratio of similar funds is 1.11%).

Here’s What Would’ve Happened Had I Not Fixed My Investing Mistakes. 

If I maxed out my Roth IRA every year for 40 years while it was invested in UCGAX, my expected return would be about 4.8% after fees.

This would hypothetically leave me with $632,850 when I retire. Not Bad.

But, because I no longer hold bonds, my expected return currently is 9.97% (10% expected VTI return  – 0.03% expense ratio).

I would expect to have $2,414,490 by the time I retire! 

The same amount of money was invested in both cases but the returns, asset allocation and fees are way different!

That’s a BIG deal.

I can’t say this will be 100% accurate but this is no small number guys! It’s worth it to learn about investing and make sure you don’t make the same investing mistakes I did.


I made a lot of investing mistakes: 

  • I picked bad investments
  • Waited too long to get started
  • Took someone else’s word for it
  • Didn’t know what I was invested in 
  • Didn’t pay attention to fees
  • Left too much in cash
  • Bought actively managed funds
  • Constantly measured my results

You don’t have to make the same investing mistakes that I did.

Take the investing mistakes I’ve made and learn vicariously through me so you can get started the right way.

It’s never too late to get started. And it’s never too late to change things. 

If you’d like to get a better grip on your finances and avoid making investing mistakes, sign up for my Free 7-Day Transform Your Finances email course here.

And if you’d like to read the book that opened my eyes to investing and helped me realize all of the investing mistakes I’ve made, it’s called the Simple Path to Wealth.


This information has been presented as general education purposes. I am no longer an investment advisor and have not taken your specific situation into account so please don’t take any of the information presented today as investment advice. Consult with an investment professional if you’d like to learn more about investing for your future. 

Investing Mistakes | Simplifinances

Personal Capital Review: 5 Powerful Free Features

Personal Capital Review: 5 Powerful Free Features

We may receive a commission for referring new users. If you decide to sign up after reading my Personal Capital review, you’re helping support our free content at no cost to you, so thanks! You should sign up because it could change your future.

The first time I heard of Personal Capital, I was working as a Financial Counselor at the University of Utah. This was back in 2016 and we were working on revamping our website.

We got a call from someone in Denver, Colorado and they asked if we would be willing to place a financial calculator on our website that was created by Personal Capital. I politely declined because I had never heard of the company before and didn’t want a bunch of noise on our website. 

After the call, I looked into it and decided to create an account. I connected a few accounts and then completely forgot about it for about 6 months. It felt very overwhelming at first and I didn’t want to take the time to learn it.

After 6 months, I was reading a post from Millennial Money and saw that he was a big fan of Personal Capital. A lot of bloggers were big fans!

Because of the online positivity, I spent a little more time setting it up and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Here’s my Personal Capital review and why I think it’s the best free financial planning software of 2020.

What is Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is an online wealth management company that believes the power of technology can make the financial services industry more affordable, accessible, and honest. 

You can think of the company as two main divisions:

  • Free financial planning software
  • Online wealth management

I have never used their paid online financial planning and wealth management services and so I’m not going to be reviewing that today, only their free tools. 

They also offer their free Personal Capital app that I’m guilty of logging into nearly everyday.

After the initial set up, and once I became comfortable with Personal Capital, I discovered some powerful features.

Here are 5 powerful features that I love about Personal Capital.

1. Accurate & Visual Graphs

One of my favorite features is seeing my complete financial picture in one simple dashboard.

By connecting all of your financial accounts, it’s able to create a nice-looking picture of your where you are with your finances. And it updates on a daily basis to give you accurate information and visuals.

Seeing how my assets are going up and my liabilities are going down is super motivating to me.

If you set up a Personal Capital account today, in ten years you’ll be able to look back and remember how broke you were and just how far you’ve come. 

I’ve got four years of data under my belt now and it’s amazing to see how thing have changed based on the markets, my jobs, when I borrowed money, etc.

It also integrates with Zillow for property values and over 10,000 other financial institutions.

I’m a very visual person and seeing all of their graphs is very satisfying.

2. Account Aggregation

I love being able to see all of my accounts in one place.

Personal Capital Budget | Personal Capital Review | Simplifinances

As many of my readers know, I’m a HUGE fan of the JARS Money Management System. And this system requires six bank accounts.

It’s nice to see each bank account along with my credit cards, mortgage, and investments.

If I wasn’t able to see all of my accounts in one place I would probably forget that some of them existed.


It also shows you all of your spendings and compares that with the previous month to see how you’re doing. 

As you can see, it automatically categorizes transactions and shows you what percentage of your spending that category represents. It will compare what you’re spending this month to what you spent last month.

To be honest, I think Personal Capital is lagging when it comes to robust budgeting tools. For that, I use my favorite free budgeting software.

Read: Top Rated Free Budget Software That Will Simplify Your Finances

3. Investment Performance

When I first created an account, I was also in business school learning about investments.

I was becoming very familiar with terms like index, benchmark, blended, S&P 500, DOW, foreign markets, and so on.

Weekly Updates | Personal Capital Review | Simplifinances

At the time, none of these terms meant anything to me personally.

After connecting my investments to Personal Capital, I started understanding these terms better. I was able to see how my portfolio was doing compared to the S&P 500, foreign markets, and so on.

Before that, when I would hear how the markets did today on the radio, it didn’t make sense to me. But because of the Portfolio and the Holding & Allocations section of the app, these things began to make sense.

I could see the percentage change of my investments for the day and see the dollar amount change as well.

Certain days when the markets did well, and I saw how it impacted my net worth, I was a happy camper.

On days when markets are volatile and down, I try not to let it bother me.

Each week, I continue to get a summary email like this. 

4. Net Worth Tracker

When you track your net worth, you’re more motivated to make better financial decisions.

Personal Capital has literally forced me to make better financial decisions because I want to see that graph going up.

I will mention that checking your net worth too frequently can cause undue stress and I do try and limit how much I log into the app.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I also find ways to have a balance between saving and spending. Because of the way I manage my money, I force myself to spend money on fun things as well.

You shouldn’t bee 100% extreme all the time with your savings. You have to have balance.

5. Fee Analyzer

I never really knew how much I was paying in fees until I was able to see the expense ratio for each individual security within the Personal Capital fee analyzer.

Investment companies make it difficult to see what exactly your expense ratio is. The fee analyzer made it really easy to see how much money I was paying for each investment and get rid of the ones that were too expensive.

It was one of the main motivating factors that pushed me to invest in an ETF at Vanguard (VTI) with an expense ratio of 0.03%.

Related: I Don’t Know How to Invest & I’m Scared I’ll Make a Mistake 

You can see that there is a lot to like about Personal Capital. These are only 5 of the many powerful features that Personal Capital has to offer.

Mint vs. Personal Capital

Toward the beginning of the article, I mentioned my favorite free budget software. Which happens to be Mint.

Personal Capital and Mint’s features are quite complementary.

I’ve been using Mint since 2014 and found it to be great for tracking expenses and staying on top of my finances, but it lacked big time when it came to investments.

I now use both because they each serve a different purpose.

When it comes to budgeting:

Mint > Personal Capital

When it comes to investing:

Personal Capital > Mint

Here’s a comparison that Personal Capital put together comparing themselves to Mint. 

Is It Safe to Use Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is safe to use. They use many layers of security to keep your money and your information safe and private.

Like Mint, the don’t actually have access to any funds. You’re simply aggregating the information and then they’re able to analyze it.

Of course, nothing is un-hackable but they definitely take extra safety precautions. So much so that I would have to update my USAA connection every day by logging into my bank with 2FA if I wanted to see accurate bank information.

Because Personal Capital is a free financial planning software, you would think that they sell your information like many of the free personal finance apps out there. But in fact, according to their privacy policy, it states; “Personal Capital’s core business is wealth management. This means that our objective is to win you over as a Personal Capital Advisory Client. We do not rent, sell or trade your Personal Information.

How Much Does Personal Capital Cost?

After everything I’ve mentioned, you may be thinking, “is Personal Capital really free?”

And the answer is, yes! It really is free. But if it was completely free they wouldn’t be in business. So that brings up the next question.

How Does Personal Capital Make Money?

Personal Capital uses it’s amazing software to draw people in. They’ve been able to amass quite a large amount of users who use their tools frequently. But if it’s all free, how. do they make money.

Once a user has over $100,000 in investable assets, that person then becomes a lead for their wealth management department. You don’t ever have to invest any of your money with them if you don’t want to.

But if you decided to invest with them, they charge an asset management fee of 0.89% for portfolios between $100,000 and $1 million. Which is actually quite high for a robo-advisor. Once you have over $10 million, the fee becomes 0.49%.

Personal Capital is different than Betterment or Wealthfront in a sense because it is more expensive but they promote their Certified Financial Planners being willing and able to meet more frequently.

What Are The Downsides of Personal Capital?

There are two major downsides to Personal Capital:

  • As soon as you have $100,000 in investable assets, their financial planners will start reaching out to you. You don’t have to work with them though unless you want to. You can politely decline and they won’t reach out to you again. 
  • Their budgeting software is not as user-friendly and easy to use as many of the free budgeting apps out there. I recommend using Mint or even Qube Money.

In Conclusion

I’m a big fan of Personal Capital’s free tools and I think it’s the best personal finance software to help you reach your retirement goals.

If you haven’t signed up for an account before, I encourage you to get started by clicking the link below!

Create a Personal Capital account for free!

If you’ve heard of Personal Capital before but have never given it a try, I encourage you to try it out.

Don’t get overwhelmed at first as I did and give up.

Take the time to accurately set it up and I promise it will help you make better financial decisions because you’ll be well on your way to financial independence. 

Let me know your thoughts about Personal Capital in the comments below!

Personal Capital Review | Simplifinances

Top Rated Free Budget Software That Will Simplify Your Money

Top Rated Free Budget Software That Will Simplify Your Money

With bills, rent/mortgage, student loans, credit cards, savings, and much more, how do you keep track of all of it? And is there a free budget software that makes it easy?

Someone recently told me, “I know exactly how much I spend each month. I keep track of it in my head.”

Keeping track of your finances in your head, may not be the most effective. Especially if you’re not a budgeter!

The good news is, you don’t need to keep a running tab stored in your brain. We all know what happens when you miss a payment.

Many years ago, I met with a financial planner who wanted to help me set up my first investment.

He said, “We take care of all the confusing stuff for you. You don’t need Mint or other budget software.”

I thought, “what’s Mint?”

After the appointment, I went home, set up an online account, and never spoke with him again.

Since then, Mint has become a huge part of my life and has done more for me than the gold based annuity he was trying to sell me.

I want to share with you why I’ve used Mint so much and the benefits it’s brought to me.

What is Mint and Why Should You Use It?

Mint is a free money management software that was acquired by Intuit in 2009, the same company that owns Quickbooks and Turbotax.

It’s super easy to use with a clean user interface. It gives you a clear overview of your finances.

It connects to all of your existing accounts to help you stay on top of managing your money in one place.

“Every time you visit their site, your financial data gets updated automatically. It presents your financial information in a slick easy-to-use web interface, with pretty graphs and all.”

– Investor Junkie

Mint has helped over 10 million Americans reduce their debt, pay their bills on time, and increase their overall net worth.

You’ll find boatloads of other great software to use for your money, but none of them really come close to Mint.

So, what are the features?

It’s Free

It’s incredible that Mint offers this budget software for free!

They receive their funding through companies that offer deals such as credit cards, investments, and recently, loans, and many other offers.

You can ignore the advertising links, but if you really are in the market for different products, it’s a great place to shop around.

Bank-Level Security

With the amount of online fraud, it’s common to worry about your personal information being stolen.

It’s usually a concern for people to connect a third-party to their bank account. However, Mint uses bank-level security.

They cannot transfer funds or access your account. They can only view it as read-only. Kind of like taking a picture of your bank account balances and putting it all in one place and giving you a quantitative analysis.  

Mint is also analyzed and certified by prominent third-party providers like TrustArc, VeriSign and other trusted professionals in online security.

Free Budget Software | Simplifinances

Financial Dashboard

We love having everything in one easy-to-see dashboard. Mint gives you a complete overview of your finances and having it in one place brings peace of mind.

Imagine the days before Walmart when you went to multiple stores to buy what you needed.

Now you get everything at one store.

Mint does the same. No need to go to each bank, loan, or credit card website separately to view your balances.

Free Credit Score

Mint gives you a free credit score!

But you’ve probably heard of free credit scores and how they are not really accurate.

Let’s be honest, what credit score is actually accurate?

Once you sign up for the free credit score, it may be off, but the biggest benefit is the summary of your overall credit situation.

From payment history, credit limit and usage, inquiries, and more information that explains why your credit score sucks or is really good.

Although it may not be your exact credit score, it’s smart to have a rough ballpark estimate of where you are.


How easy is it to forget when your bills are due?

It’s a good idea to set up automatic payments, but for those bills that are variable, set up an alert to be sent to your phone or email a number of days in advance so you’ll never miss a payment.

Mint has more than 20 types of alerts to notify you of fees, warn you if you’re going over budget, or let you know if something seems suspicious.

I get an alert every time a purchase of $200 or more is made with one of my credit cards, in case it get’s stolen.


One of my favorite things about Mint is the Trends section.

Have you ever had these questions?

  • How much did I actually spend last month?
  • What categories do I spend the most on?
  • Or how has my net worth changed over the past year?

You can answer all of these questions and many more in the Trends section.

 “You can’t manage something you don’t measure”

A few years ago, I was asked to write down all of my expenses for the month. I wrestled with myself to think of everything I spent my money on. It seemed like things changed every month.

When I finished with my expense sheet, I knew in my mind that it was not accurate.

With trends, you can take the average amount spent each month throughout the entire year, or multiple years. This gives you an idea of the actual amount of money that is spent on different categories each month.

This is a great way to get started with a budget and setting goals to spend less and save more. Which brings me to my last point.

Mint Budgets and Trends | Simplifinances


Each of us has goals:

  • Going on a vacation
  • Saving for a home
  • Paying off student loans
  • Saving money for Christmas gifts
  • Etc.

Mint helps you reach those goals by assessing the amount the goal requires. It then gives you a specific date in the future and tells you how much money each month needs to be allocated to that goal.

It will let you know each month where you put enough or not enough money towards your goals and whether or not you are on track to achieve it.


With all the services this free budget software offers at no cost, why wouldn’t you use it?

I’m not affiliated with Mint, I’m simply a raving fan. Whenever they release an update, I get excited. And I love it when other people tell me they started using Mint and that I was the one that introduced them to it.

The only downside with Mint I’ve found is the investments section.

I haven’t understood how my investment accounts are aggregated and how I did compared to the market.

Mint is great for basic money management and budgeting but if you’re looking for something a little more in-depth that gives you a clear idea of how your investments are performing, I use Personal Capital. You can read more about my review of Personal Capital.

If you haven’t opened a Mint account yet, I urge you to do so.

Stick with it for a few months or years and I hope to hear from you on how your experience has been.

It’s safe, free, accurate, easy to use, and convenient. This free budget software has many more capabilities and features that I didn’t mention, but that you’ll soon discover.

It’s time to be good with your money.

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