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Personal Capital Software Review-Comprehensive Financial Management-Part 2

Everything You Need to Know About Personal Capital’s Free Investing Tools and Cash Flow Tracking

How Personal Capital Software and Investing Tools Can Help You Build Your Net Worth and Manage Your Finances

In Part 1 of the best Personal Capital Review, you got an overview of the awesome free tools available through the Personal Capital platform as well as the seamless set up. If you’re still on the fence about whether this financial robo-advisor (or technology enhanced investing platform) is for you, get complete insight into the platform, here.

Sign Up for Personal Capital

Today’s Part 2 of the Best Personal Capital Review delves into the Personal Capital software with an exploration of net worth, cash flow, retirement, education planning and investing tools.

Part 3 of the Best Personal Capital Review – Personal Capital Advisors – uncovers the fee structure, advisory services and investment philosophy.

Personal Capital Software and Financial Management Starts With Knowing Your Complete Financial Picture

Quickly link your accounts. With the click of a mouse your Personal Capital dashboard is up, with your net worth listed both graphically and with a dollar amount. You can even link up your home to get the Zillow current value. The net worth graph shows how your complete financial picture progresses over time. Notice that the day of this capture, the market had a large decline.

During this 30 day snapshot, the S&P 500 fell almost 4%, yet this sample portfolio fell only 1.57%, due to its more conservative allocation. You can change the time period to view your historical net income.

Personal Capital investing tools + net worth overview

One of the most important financial goals is to grow your net worth over time and the Personal Capital dashboard keeps your net worth front and center. As one of the most important long term metrics for financial success – keep your net worth growing and the rest of your financial life will fall into place.

The free Personal Capital software offers these free financial management tools:

  • Net Worth Tracker
  • Cash Flow Analyzer
  • Investment Checkup
  • Retirement Planner
  • Retirement Fee Analyzer
  • College Education Planner

This Personal Capital Review – Part 2 explains the rich free features of the Personal Capital financial software. 

Personal Capital Cash Flow Tools

Your financial plan starts with knowing how much money you have now, how much is coming in and the amount that you’re spending. The Cash Flow section of the Personal Capital investing tools streamlines this segment of your life with a complete cash flow dashboard.

The cash flow graph details how much money is left after subtracting spending from income. You can choose the time period. 

Personal Capital Software-Free cash flow, Personal Capital budgeting, income + expense tracking

 

On the separate income screen you can see just where your income is coming from and how it’s changing over time.

On the expense screen you get your detailed spending analysis. 

This ‘in your face’ cash flow picture gives you ready access to the viability of your lifestyle choices. 

Sign Up for Personal Capital

The cash flow is like your day-to-day, week-to-week and short term money management compass. With the cash flow data, you’ve got the tools to see where your money is going and whether you need to make changes or not.

This image shows a positive month, with more income than spending. That’s good. If you’re having a month with more spending than income, you can’t hide from it.

Click on any section, and zoom in to see a detailed view. Click on income and see all of your income sources. Go to spending and find out exactly where your money is going.

I remember the first time I noticed how much our family was spending on dining out, it was a real eye-opener. It caused us to sit down and figure out if the money we spent at the restaurants was worth the damper it was placing on our financial growth.

Interested in analyzing your spending more? Categorize each purchase by date, merchant and category.

Personal Capital Budgeting Helps You Keep on Top of Your Bills

With all the time demands, it’s tough to stay on top of bills due dates and when you made your last payment. Personal Capital shows you when bills are due, the minimum payment along with total amount outstanding.

Income-The Important Flip Side of Spending

The income screen breaks out where your money is coming from. The bar allows you to compare your monthly income with the average. You can also adjust the view to highlight a variety of time periods. By analyzing your income, you can assess your incomes sources and use that data to consider how to improve your income profile.

Personal Capital financial software - income planning
So far, we’ve talked about the cash flow and net worth capabilities of Personal Capital. But the beauty of the platform is that it seamlessly integrates your short-term income and expenses with a comprehensive investing platform. This holistic financial view is priceless, and this Personal Capital Software is free.

Now, let’s investigate the free investment tools.

Free Personal Capital Investing Tools Platform

Being able to see all of your investment accounts is ideal. After inputting all of your information, you have a 360o view of your retirement, bank, and brokerage accounts. You can integrate that CD you have with a credit union with your prior 401(k) account, a Roth IRA, discount brokerage account and any other type of financial account that you have. This allows you to slice and dice individual cash, stock, bond, mutual fund, ETF and any other financial holdings into a total picture.

You can view and analyze your investment portfolio:

  • Holdings 
  • Balance
  • Asset Allocation 
  • Performance
  • Sector Allocation
  • Investment Check Up offers recommendations to improve returns.

Investment Check Up

The investment check-up offers priceless tools. The overriding question that the investment check-up answers is “Could your portfolio give you greater returns for a reasonable risk level?” The program answers this question by comparing your current asset allocation to the recommended target. Personal Capital will offer suggestions to improve your returns, as well. 

Bonus: Bill Harris-Personal Capital’s Marketing Genius

Target Asset Allocation

Based on your risk preferences and expected retirement date Personal Capital creates an asset allocation for you. This portfolio leans towards the aggressive side.

Personal Capital target asset allocation

When comparing the current allocation with the suggested target, you can see that there’s lots more cash in this portfolio, than recommended as well as fewer international stocks and bonds than recommended.

Risk v. Return

In the next graph from the Personal Capital investment tools section you can see the interaction between risk and return of the sample portfolio versus the targeted.

Personal Capital-Modern Portfolio Theory + The Efficient Frontier

The curve or efficient frontier represents the interaction between the portfolio’s risk and return with any portfolio which lies on the line representing the greatest return level for the amount of risk desired. If you compare the current allocation with the target, you’ll see that the current portfolios expected return is 8.0% with a risk level of 12.7%. If this user switched to the recommended allocation they may benefit from a higher return of 8.9% and a risk level of 13.5%.

When the program analyzed my family’s actual portfolio they found it to be too conservative.  According to Personal Capital, if we switched to the target allocation then we would gain greater portfolio returns and more money in retirement.

I really appreciated the FAQ at the end of the check-up. The list of questions and answers is great if you have any lingering concerns about how Personal Capital comes up with its results.

The company explains that “The Investment Checkup” is limited to the data you have aggregated and the profile information you have entered.” In other words, the analysis is only as good as the inputs. It also doesn’t include fees or expenses.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner

Are you wondering if you’re on the correct trajectory to meet your retirement goals? The retirement planner gives you the answer.

The calculator tells you best and worst case retirement scenarios. It shows how much monthly spending your current portfolio will allow throughout retirement. If you’re out of whack and your spending is projected to surpass your income, you’ve got time and tools to adjust.

Personal Capital software retirement planner

 

This is a sample image of a family that’s done its retirement planning correctly. The consumer desires $7,500 per month spending yet has the ability to spend more, without running out of money.

Retirement Fee Analyzer

This calculator allows you to investigate the bite that fees consume from your total returns. Even the lowest account fees can add up over time. This was true in the estimate below. Although this portfolio had a rock bottom expense percentage of 0.14% as compared to the benchmark portfolio fees of 0.50%, over the upcoming 10 years until retirement the portfolio will ultimately lose 3.0% to fees.

Notice that below the graph you can also manipulate your portfolio assumptions.

retirement fee analyzer-personal capital

Personal Capital Education Planner

Newly launched, this handy tool helps you plan for Junior’s educational expenses. You can get insights into how much to save so that you’ll have the appropriate amount of money by the time your child enters college. 

Pros and Cons of Free Personal Capital Software 

Pros

The data overview and integration is phenomenal. It’s helpful to view net worth, income, expenses, and investments with the push of a button.

The retirement analyzer is a superb tool, as is the retirement fee analyzer.

The drill down into sectors and detailed aspects of your portfolio is similar to the Morningstar x-ray tool and is a great way to uncover holes in your diversification strategy.

The You IndexTM allows the user to compare your own investments against various benchmarks. For example, after a market drop the S&P fell -3.19%, +while my portfolio only dropped -1.9%, due to its conservative allocation.

Set up is very simple as we discussed in part 1.

Excellent, bank-level security.

Good Personal Capital App, mobile and tablet access.

As the Personal Capital financial and investment software is free and set up is quick, it’s worth a try. 

Cons

All assumptions are based upon past data. There is no guarantee that the past performance of any asset classes will continue into the future. In my opinion, although the U.S. stock market performance has hovered around 9% for the last 85 years there’s no assurance this equity out-performance will continue, especially with slowing U.S. economic growth.

Their assumptions are a bit aggressive for my taste, even for the moderate portfolio. The investment check-up, using historical assumptions doesn’t jive with my personal preference of capital preservation over growth. Maybe if I indicated a desire for a more conservative portfolio, then my results would have been more in line with my current preferences.

Sign Up for Personal Capital

Personal Capital Review of Financial Software and Investment Tools Summary

Sign up for the free Personal Capital account. The tools are outstanding and there’s no disadvantage to signing up for these Personal Capital money and investing tools. I also use the paid Quicken financial software and Personal Capital links with my accounts more seamlessly than Quicken. 

>>Read: Personal Capital Review – Why You Must Sign Up for Personal Capital – Part 1-for an overview and drill down into the easy set up. Learn about the model from Bill Harris, the founder.

>>>Read: Personal Capital Review-Comprehensive Financial Management-Part 2 – to find out everything you need to know about Personal Capital cash flow and investing tools.

>>Read: Best Personal Capital Review – Personal Capital Advisors – Part 3 – to uncover the fee structure, advisory services and investment philosophy.

Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally believe is valuable.

Updated November, 2017

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Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

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