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What is Personal Capital?
Update (November 30, 2019): I’ve been using Personal Capital for over 2 years now and I highly recommend it as a free tool for helping manage your personal finances. It is the best tool I’ve found to see a snapshot of all your finances in one place.
I’ve been trying out a new personal financial management tool called Personal Capital. I wanted to see if it would be good alternative to Quicken.
It is an online tool, similar to Mint. Like Mint, it is totally FREE.
Personal Capital allows you to see all your accounts in one place, including credit cards, bank accounts, investments, 401Ks, and more. Just like with Quicken, you can also add mortgage and loan accounts as well as any assets you want to track.
How does Personal Capital do this? Just like with Quicken, it can synchronize with your bank and other accounts, showing you all your balances and all your transactions. It also includes some incredible investment tools that help you plan and manage your retirement and other investments.
Personal Capital uses bank-level military-grade encryption to keep all your accounts safe and no one can move money in or out of the accounts you link up. It is view only, so your accounts are never in danger of being compromised. It does not store your usernames or passwords, so there is no danger of them being compromised. You just have to log in to each account once to securely verify your account, then it will show up in your Personal Capital dashboard.
Is Personal Capital a Possible Alternative to Quicken?
That depends. Personal Capital is a wonderful tool for seeing all your accounts in one place. It makes it easy to track your account balances, see all your transactions, and get an overall view of your financial picture. It even categorizes your transactions so you know where your money is being spent.
If that’s all you’re looking for in Quicken, then Personal Capital would make a great alternative to Quicken that’s completely free.
It is also a great tool for tracking and managing retirement and investment accounts. In fact, that’s where Personal Capital really shines. It has better investment tools than Quicken, allowing you to more easily see how your portfolio is doing and helping you decide how to better allocate your investments.
Now, before you decide to completely switch to Personal Capital from Quicken, here are a couple things to keep in mind.
First, Personal Capital does not include any budgeting tools. If that’s a feature you use in Quicken, Personal Capital won’t be able to replace it.
Second, you can’t create customized categories in Personal Capital. It has a lot of built-in categories that should cover everything for most people, but if you rely on creating your own custom categories and sub-categories in Quicken, Personal Capital may not be a good Quicken alternative for you.
Third, you can’t add manual transactions to an account. So if you frequently write checks and add them to your checking account register in Quicken manually, you won’t be able to do that in Personal Capital.
How I use Personal Capital
I rely heavily on Quicken’s ability to create custom categories and sub-categories, along with Quicken’s customizable reports. So Personal Capital will not completely replace Quicken for me.
What I have found, however, is that Personal Capital is an awesome tool to use alongside Quicken. It’s free, so there’s no reason why you can’t use both if you want to keep using some of the features in Quicken.
I like using Personal Capital for the investing tools and to get a good snapshot of my current financial status. I can easily see all my accounts and balances in one place, without the hassle of trying to synchronize everything in Quicken. When I log into Personal Capital, all my latest transactions and balances are already synchronized, so I don’t have to mess around with trying to update everything.
Personal Capital’s powerful retirement planner and investment allocation tools are very good alternatives to Quicken’s investment tools. I feel like Personal Capital works better for me than Quicken when it comes to managing my investments.
Is Personal Capital Really Free?
Yes, Personal Capital is completely free. Sign up here to give it a try.
If it’s free, how does Personal Capital make money? Well, the main investment and account management tools are all free. If you choose, you can ask Personal Capital to build and manage a personalized investment strategy for you. This costs less than 1% in management fees and is a completely optional feature. If you want to just stick with the free tools, you can do so.
How to Get Started with Personal Capital
Getting started is easy. It only took a few minutes for me to add all my accounts and get a complete financial picture on my Personal Capital dashboard.
You simply fill out the sign up form, link your accounts, and everything just works.
I was very impressed by the ease of setting it up and by how everything just worked seamlessly.
It’s totally free to use, so why not give it a try? It may turn out to be just the tool you’re looking for to supplement or replace Quicken.
Nate Phillips has been using Quicken and TurboTax for almost 20 years. He has spent part of that time as a Quicken beta tester, helping identify bugs and annoyances with Quicken updates before they are released. Nate holds a master’s degree in Computer Science and has numerous technology certifications.