According to Google Dashboard, I currently maintain 663 bookmarks in my Chrome browser, sorted among 53 different folders. All of these websites were important enough that at one point, I elected to bookmark them. The overwhelming majority are websites that have something to do with personal finance, investments, taxes, insurance, debt, or other financial planning topics which can be referenced to help with specific situations or needs. But what if I was forced to narrow that arguably excessive list of 663 into a list of the 10 best personal finance websites? After much deliberation, here is that list:
Mint.com – I have test-driven a number of different budgeting or account aggregation websites over the years but this remains my personal favorite. Mint has added numerous features since we first met in 2008, and following the acquisition by Intuit (Quicken) in 2009, but the usability and functionality have remained excellent. One of the nice features of Mint is that you can use it in a number of ways – to build and track a budget, to monitor your spending, to get a consolidated view of your financial accounts in one place, or even to help achieve a goal. Additionally, Mint has built some powerful mobile applications to complement the website.
Annualcreditreport.com – Forget the commercials or catchy songs, annualcreditreport.com remains the only website that allows you to obtain a truly free credit report (unless you want to use another “free” site and pay junk fees or get daily spam emails for the next year). It links to the three major credit bureaus and allows you to easily get one free report from each bureau (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) every 12 months without any impact to your credit score. An alternative to getting them all at once is to visit annualcreditreport.com every 4 months and view one report at a time, rotating the bureaus. If you’re not interested in the full report but just a quick and free credit score, creditkarma.com or creditsesame.com are two good alternatives.
Ehealthinsurance.com – The granddaddy of health insurance comparison shopping still remains the best place to shop for health insurance. There are other websites that serve the same niche but you can save your time and just get everything in one place. Ehealthinsurance offers a nice combination of a user-friendly interface, comprehensiveness, and second-to-none client service if you elect to purchase insurance through the website. In addition to health insurance shopping, this is the place to go for small business health insurance, Medicare policies, vision, and dental.
Term4sale.com – We generally recommend term life insurance over other forms of life insurance in nearly all situations and this is the first place to go when shopping for term insurance. The two best things about the site are simplicity and anonymity. You can literally get personalized quotes within 15 seconds of landing on the site and it does not require you to enter a name, email address, phone number or any other contact information. You can use term4sale to find a local agent and buy the quoted insurance or if you prefer to do much of the work online, reliaquote.com or insure.com are my preferred options.
Nerdwallet.com – This website is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for all things financial. It does a lot of things and it does those things really well. You can compare the most attractive credit cards in over a dozen categories (cash back, travel, business, etc.) or skip the analysis and see the “nerd’s” choices for best cards in each category. In the mortgage section, nerdwallet pulls mortgage rates from a reputable source so that you can compare current rates. The site also allows you to compare rates and fees on bank accounts, savings accounts, CDs, or use the site to find a credit union, surpassing my long-time favorite in this space, bankrate.com. There is a wealth of information, including a useful blog and well-written articles on many financial subjects.
Netquote.com –What a website like kayak.com is for comparison travel shopping, netquote is for auto, home, and renter’s insurance needs. There are other sites that serve this niche but netquote pulls from the largest range of property and casualty (P&C) insurance providers which, in turn, tends to mean the most competitive price quotes. Keep in mind that unlike with ehealthinsurance and term4sale, you are required to enter your contact information to see quotes and you will be contacted by insurance agents following your inquiry. Moreover, the website is not as robust in categories such as life insurance or health insurance. But with those caveats in mind, I use netquote once a year just to see if my P&C insurance expenses can be improved upon.
Dinkytown.net – From my experience, this is easily the best collection of financial calculators on the Internet and a website that I frequently visit. There are over 350 calculators that address decisions such as rent or lease vs. buy, refinancing, Roth vs. traditional IRA, stock option valuation, retirement savings needs, income tax projections, and Social Security timing. Basically, if there is a financial decision that requires math, dinkytown has a calculator for it. Of course, the website is free so some of the calculators are not as robust as other paid software and it does not offer decision-making guidance outside of the mere calculations but it is a great starting place.
Finaid.org – This website will not be useful for everyone but it is a must-bookmark for anyone sending a child off to college in the next few years. There is a wealth of information on loans, federal aid, military aid, and scholarships. In addition, there are useful calculators for estimating financial aid eligibility, expected contribution, college costs, etc. The scholarship section links to the fastweb.com website, which tends to be the best location to search for scholarships. The loan section links to simpletuition.com, which is a good place to search for student loans.
Morningstar.com – No list of the best personal finance resources would be complete without the inclusion of Morningstar. The website that began as the preeminent source of information on mutual funds has expanded into so much more. Not only has Morningstar incorporated stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and ETFs, but it also offers some of the web’s best thinking on subjects like retirement planning, tax planning, and saving for college. Morningstar is one of the websites I visit nearly every day for the wealth of information and financial planning commentary.
Charitynavigator.com – There is no one perfect destination for the philanthropic minded to do their charity evaluation homework but this is a good starting point. The site provides an overall star-rating for each charity and also rates the charities in categories such as financial or accountability. Performance metrics and financial data are presented in a simple summary that makes it easy to quickly evaluate each charity. Guidestar.com is another useful website that provides direct access to each charity’s Form 990 public filing, if you want to get into the details.
What are your thoughts? Have any “top ten” websites been left off? Are there better alternatives to the sites above? Please do not hesitate to comment with your suggestions or snubs.