I’m a fan of Personal Capital and have enjoyed watching the evolution of their tool over the years.
I was drawn to it because, when they launched, it was one of the only tools out there that could pull in your banking and investment accounts into a single dashboard. You could analyze it with their suite of retirement planning tools, get great free advice and decent projections, and use it to help plan your finances.
Personal Capital is a very popular tool because it marries two critical financial tasks – tracking and planning. And it adds a third if you’re a fan of robo-advisors helping you invest with their wealth management services.
Even when they were acquired by Empower, they kept much of what I loved about Personal Capital absolutely the same.
Whenever there’s an acquisition, there’s always the concern that a tool will change (or get shut down) but fortunately that didn’t happen (yet?).
But maybe there are parts of the tool that don’t satisfy your needs – what if you want to find an alternative to Personal Capital?
We have a few options based on what you need:
Table of Contents
Best Alternative for Budgeting – You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget is a popular and effective zero-based budgeting tool created by Jesse Meacham in 2003. In the nearly twenty years since, it’s evolved into a feature-rich tool that has a fiercely loyal and resourceful following.
YNAB is a paid tool that helps you organize your spending and saving through a zero-based budget where every dollar is given a job. It’s meant to help you design your spending so you’re transitioning towards the budget you want to have, rather than shoehorning your spending into a budget you think you should have. It’s more than a tool, it’s a holistic way of thinking about spending and saving.
YNAB has four “rules” that help you get to where you want:
- Rule 1: Give Every Dollar a Job – This is the idea behind a zero-based budget where every dollar you bring in is assigned a “job.”
- Rule 2: Embrace Your True Expenses – Remember to budget for the large infrequent expenses, like insurance payments or car breakdowns, by dividing them into smaller monthly “bills.”
- Rule 3: Roll With The Punches – Once you’ve given every dollar a job and accounted for infrequent expenses, it’s time to manage the small adjustments that result from accidental overspending. Like envelope budgeting, it just requires you to shift dollars from one area to another.
- Rule 4: Age Your Money – Once you have the system set up, you’re not spending last month’s paycheck rather than living paycheck to paycheck.
YNAB has a 34-day trial and then costs just $14.99 per month or $98.99 per year (saving $59). Our full review of YNAB can tell you more about this great tool.
Best for Financial Planning – NewRetirement
If you thought that Personal Capital’s financial planning tools were a little on the weaker side (they are pretty good for free but they aren’t fully featured but that’s partially because they want you to speak with one of their human planners), you may be ready to upgrade to a tool like NewRetirement.
NewRetirement is more than a financial dashboard – it’s a suite of financial planning tools that will most definitely impress you. It is so comprehensive that it’s bordering on intimidating and I’m someone who thinks about finances quite a bit.
Fortunately, it’s set up a lot like TurboTax in that it walks you through building your plan like you would with a human being (rather than a spreadsheet). You can set up a quick plan in two minutes (it uses estimates) or a comprehensive one that takes only 8 minutes.
Once you build a plan, you can start playing with it to see how different decisions can impact your future. They really take a lot of different factors into consideration.
NewRetirement is a freemium tool so you can create a plan and organize your finances for free. If you want to start playing with your plan and see how it is impacted by relocation (with state-specific tax modeling) or other scenarios, the PlannerPlus tier is just $96 per year. (if you want more help, there are higher tiers with access to financial planners)
Best for Spreadsheet Junkies – Tiller Money
For as long as I’ve been an adult with an adult job, I’ve tracked our net worth in an Excel spreadsheet. I still use Personal Capital but that’s partially to just go into my accounts and pull the balances for me. It works OK, though you have to refresh connections every once and a while, so I’ve kept it that way.
But, if you’re like me and you love tinkering with a spreadsheet and want something to support it, you really need to take a look at Tiller Money.
Tiller is a paid tool that will supercharge your spreadsheets by pulling in your data without you having to do it manually. It can save you hours of time and avoid any errors you may introduce by doing it yourself.
If you don’t have a spreadsheet, they have templates you can customize to get you exactly the information you want. It’s able to do this for Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.
Tiller has a 30-day trial and then costs $79 per year.
Best for Free Budgeting – Mint
Personal Capital added budgeting features fairly recently and they’re OK but they pale in comparison to a legit budgeting-first app. For that, Mint is the clear leader in the free app category.
Mint is a free budgeting app that does a great job of helping you manage your spending and saving but it doesn’t really do investing all that well. Mint has been around since 2006 and it’s probably one of the most popular budgeting tools available, in part because it’s completely free (ad-supported).
Much like Personal Capital, you can link up your banking and credit card accounts to help you with budgeting, which can be incredibly useful. They also have other tools like credit score monitoring (VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion) so it’s not a one-trick pony.
They offer an Investment Tracker tool that can pull in your portfolios but there’s not much in the way of analysis and projections. It can, however, help you find fees to see if you’re overpaying.
Our review of Mint goes into greater detail and since it is free to use, it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a budgeting app.
Best for Automated Wealth Management – Betterment
If you’re using Personal Capital for wealth management, you’ve already gone through working with one of their advisors. You should have a sense of what you’re hoping to accomplish but you want to do it without paying 0.89% per year (or 0.49% if you have $1mm+).
The best alternative to this is Betterment and their for automated wealth management has two tiers:
- Digital: For 0.25% and no minimum balance, you get all of their digital tools including financial advice, diversified portfolios, automatic rebalancing, tax loss harvesting, and asset location management. You can also sync external accounts so it acts as a financial dashboard.
- Premium: For 0.40% and a $100,000 minimum, you get all the Digital features plus advice on investments outside of Betterment and access to CFPs.
Betterment also offers a cash management account in their no-fee checking as well as a Betterment Cash Reserve account that is a high-yield cash account to help you save (1.10% APY).
(Annual percentage yield (variable) is as of 6/22/2022. Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities.)
Another company that does wealth management quite well is Wealthfront – though Wealthfront is completely digital and you will not be able to “upgrade” and work with a human being.