There are several great tools out there for beginning investors. But the trick is finding the ones that will best fit your unique needs. This is easier said than done — all of the options can feel overwhelming.
To start, group your tools into one of three buckets: research, budgeting and management, and investing. In each of these categories, you should be able to find basic apps that are free — I wouldn't recommend paying for anything until you’ve tested the app and know it fits your requirements. Here are some of my favorite resources:
1. Research: Whether your are experienced or just starting out, all savvy investors research possible investments. There are many free websites that track stock-specific information, including Google and Yahoo! Finance. Most of these will show similar information, so there is no need to follow them all — find the one that is easiest for you to access and understand.
If this is truly your first foray into investing, I would recommend you spend some time studying the fundamentals of the stock markets and investing. I am always checking out The Motley Fool and DailyWorth for tips, advice and overall industry news.
2. Budgeting and Management: This bucket is also important for all investors. Before you make an investment (as well as after), you need to maintain control over your budget in order to properly manage your investment. My two favorite budgeting tools are SigFig and LearnVest.
SigFig allows you to track all of your accounts and investments in one place. Once you have shared your accounts, SigFig can make recommendations on diversification, management and even ways to decrease fees! It will help you understand the "big picture" for all of your investments.
LearnVest is my other personal favorite. The company was founded by my friend, Alexa Von Tobel, with the mission to empower people everywhere to take control of their personal finances. LearnVest can connect you with a financial planner who can help you set a budget and plan your financial future.
3. Investing: As with the other categories, there are tons of investing platforms. You can get started by reaching out to a traditional broker, or you can utilize an investing app. While a broker offers a traditional investment platform, apps provide new ways to to assess your risk profile, invest and adjust portfolios in real time.
Some of my favorite investment apps are Betterment and Motif. Betterment focuses on your risk profile and investing goals without all of the technical jargon. This tool offers investment guidance in an automated fashion with lower annual fees. Motif themes portfolios by sector — a good way to invest in what you know!
To be an experienced investor, you need the right tools to research, manage and invest. They are there to help you, so if one doesn't fit with your needs, then you don't have to use it. What are your favorites?
Emily Washkowitz is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.