PocketSmith is an online budgeting tool that is quite fun and easy to use. Users can manage multiple accounts, calendars and savings goals from any computer, which makes the website quite accommodative to those who plan and set financial goals often, whether on the move or at home.
PocketSmith also offers a few convenient features not offered by all other services. For instance, some budgeting services require that users record all of their transactions manually, which can become such a hassle that they stop using the service. With PocketSmith, users can link certain bank accounts to their budget, which drastically reduces the amount of manual entries necessary. The automatic bank feed service is currently in late-stage beta testing.
Keep in mind that being able to access your budget from anywhere carries a greater risk of the service being targeted by those with malicious intentions, especially if the service is linked to bank accounts. To provide security, PocketSmith’s safety features include a 256-bit SSL encryption for the website. The company also states that the only information it reads and processes are transactions and that no other information is stored on their system. The bank feed service is read-only, which means that funds cannot be moved in or out of any bank accounts using PocketSmith. For more information on security, select the Security link located at the very bottom of any PocketSmith page.
Some of PocketSmith’s other distinct features include a calendar and a merchant tool. The calendar tool allows users to set up multiple calendars to visually keep track of their budgets and goals on various accounts, while the merchant feature allows users to see how much they spent at any given store or view their spending based on customizable categories.
When setting up an account for the first time, each tab contains step-by-step instructions on how to get started and use the features on that tab. Users who are still having trouble can send a message to the company’s support service directly through the website by selecting “please get in touch” on the getting started ribbon located directly under the tabs.
PocketSmith offers three pricing levels. For free, you are given 12 event categories, two calendars and accounts, and access to activity for the past three months and future six months. A Premium subscription for $9.95 per month allows unlimited event categories, 10 calendars and accounts, automatic bank feeds, and access to activity for the past 10 years and future five years. A Super subscription for $19.95 per month allows unlimited event categories as well as calendars and accounts, automatic bank feeds, and access to activity for the past 30 years and future 10 years.
System Requirements: Web browser with Internet connection
Price: free for limited features; Premium, $9.95/month; Super, $19.95/month
As introduced in the August 2012 AAII Journal, which was devoted to exchange-traded funds , ETF Trends is an online source that provides news and analysis on individual ETFs, market trends and several model ETF portfolios. The website not only offers practical tools for experienced ETF investors, but it also provides educational content to help novice ETF investors get started.
Among the most beneficial features for many investors are “ETF 101” and the multi-part series “What Is an ETF.” What makes them so beneficial and distinct is that they both provide up-to-date content that is practical and informative, while expanding on an investor’s options or addressing concerns some may not have thought about. For instance, many investors recognize the importance of having bonds in their portfolio, whether for diversification or just capital preservation. If they do not have the time or patience to select individual bonds, they may choose a bond ETF, which contains a diversified bond portfolio managed by a professional. However, there is the pressing concern of interest rates being at historical lows currently and that, when they eventually rise, bonds will get hit hard. ETF Trends provides a detailed article in “ETF 101” that addresses the issue. Similarly, the “What Is an ETF” series highlights ways investors can use ETFs for anything from 529 college savings plans to preferred stocks.
Another feature that sets ETF Trends apart from other websites is “ETF Spotlight,” which goes beyond merely providing data. Each article focuses on a particular exchange-traded fund, highlighting important information, the latest news, sector allocations, technical information and analyst comments. By providing a snapshot of an ETF, investors can devote more time to analyzing investments that suit them.
When it comes to finding potential exchange-traded funds, premium members can use the ETF Analyzer to screen for exchange-traded funds that match custom criteria or follow a variety of model ETF portfolios. Premium members can also receive email alerts based on price, trend analysis and portfolio management, such as setting an alert to be sent when a model portfolio is rebalanced.
For those who already have some exchange-traded funds in mind, ETF Resume is a free service that makes it easy for investors to research any ETF. Users can read the ETF’s prospectus and fact sheet directly on the website, chart the ETF, monitor the fund’s composition, see the holdings and their weightings, and easily access related articles.
System Requirements: Internet connection and Web browser
Price: free with limited features; Premium Membership, $14.99/month (free 7-day trial with credit card); Ultra Membership, $29.99/month
Global Trends Investments
SystemTrader is an inexpensive charting, tracking, scanning and backtesting application for Mac OS X. With over 50 built-in technical indicators and oscillators, and a variety of drawing tools, the program has a clear focus on technical analysis. Moreover, because the program follows the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, users can be assured that it works well and looks great, especially the charts.
SystemTrader is also remarkably customizable, as users can create their own indicators, stock screens and more using tools such as the Trading System Language. However, creating an indicator or even a custom stock screen is quite difficult because the TSL is similar to computer programming, where users have to enter rules and conditions manually. The program provides visual assistants to help beginners perform basic tasks, and the charting feature is still easy to use and quite comprehensive.
In addition to indicators and oscillators, users can add a variety of overlays onto their charts. For instance, adding lower and upper price channels can help investors visualize the price range a particular security has fluctuated between. Users can also add custom conditions that, when triggered, will be automatically plotted on the graph. Instead of having a volume indicator, a user can set a condition that notifies him or her when a particular security has experienced unusual volume. For example, if a stock’s normal volume is around one million, a user could set a condition for 10 million. When the stock’s volume exceeds 10 million, a small diamond icon will appear on the graph on the bar nearest to the event.
SystemTrader comes in two versions: End-Of-Dayand Intraday. The EOD version downloads data from free sources such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money and Finam , while the intraday version provides users with real-time data from Interactive Brokers. Moreover, both versions come with free automatic upgrades so that users will always have access to the latest features.
Although data is free, it must still be downloaded for each security, which means that screening and backtesting only works within watchlists. In other words, a user must first create a watchlist of securities and download their data through the program before applying filters. Those who play around with the program will find that downloading a wealth of data is quick and easy with SystemTrader. When backtesting, users can choose a particular watchlist, import their own data or download data for every stock in a particular sector, industry or index.
SystemTrader is a decent charting and portfolio tracking program, but its screening and backtesting features may take some time to learn.
System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later, 256 MB RAM, 100 MB of free hard drive space, 1024x768 pixel screen resolution and a cable or DSL Internet connection
Price: End-of-Day version, $149; Intraday version, $249; free 30-day trial
Bankrate.com is a leading online aggregator of free financial rate information on more than 300 financial products, which until recently have all been bank-related. The website has been known by many for its reliable interest rate data and educational content, but it is now expanding its services into the investing education market. The new investing tab is dedicated to stocks, mutual funds, retirement, investing news and more.
Among the most useful features are web-based calculators, which are geared for specific purposes, such as mortgage, retirement, credit cards or auto. Along with the new investing tab came investing-specific calculators, designed to help individuals set and reach their investing goals. The calculators also help users visualize the impact certain components, such as tax rates, will have on their financial plans.
The investment goals calculator shows users if they are on track to meet their investment goals and creates a report that breaks down their balance over the years with the expected tax and inflation rate factored in. For example, an initial investment of $100,000 with monthly contributions of $1,000 may total approximately $1.25 million in 30 years. However, with taxes factored in, that would drop to about $900,000; with taxes and inflation both factored in, the ending amount would be closer to $350,000.
When planning an investment strategy or simply looking for the best deals, it helps to know what current interest rates are. By selecting the Compare Rates tab, an investor can quickly see that, currently, the highest nationally available annual percentage yieldthey can get on a six-month certificate of deposit (CD) is less than 1%, which might help them eliminate that instrument from their list of potential investments. Similarly, individuals seeking a mortgage or refinancing can search for banks offering the lowest annual percentage rate in their area and for their specific mortgage.
The amount of information available on Bankrate.com is almost overwhelming, which is what makes the second ribbon of tabs so helpful. Those looking for tax-related information can go to the Taxes tab, while those looking for a credit card that suits them can go to the Credit Cards tab. Each tab offers calculators, news, editorial publications, blogs, analysis and more on a specified topic. If users know what they are looking for, they can simply type it into the search box.
The best things about Bankrate.com are that it really is comprehensive, objective and free. Although some may find the website too comprehensive, its articles are able to be objective without being dry, and the fact that it is a free service does not compromise its content. Offering all of this information for free may even make up for the abundance of advertisements.
System Requirements: Web browser with Internet connection
Chaikin Stock Research announced the launch of Portfolio Health Check, a personalized portfolio analysis that shows where your stocks are headed over the next three to six months. Developed by Marc Chaikin using professional-grade analytics, Portfolio Health Check helps individual investors identify and act on the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in their stock portfolios. Delivered weekly via email, the service provides an overview of changes and potential surprises in your stock portfolio, including closing prices, price change percentages, earnings surprises, estimate revisions and news sentiment. The service costs $9.95 per month.
Tastytrade (tastytrade.com) and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. announced that the tastytrade network’s programming will stream directly to TD Ameritrade clients through its trading platforms. Tastytrade launched one year ago and has expanded to seven hours of live, commercial-free financial programming every weekday, featuring shows with market analysis and trading strategies for novice and veteran traders. Tastytrade content is now available on TD Ameritrade’s Trade Architect and thinkorswim platforms. A mobile version is expected to launch later this summer.
TradeMONSTER announced the launch of Portfolio Margin accounts for active option traders. Portfolio Margin accounts use a risk-based approach to calculate margin requirements for options trading. TradeMONSTER will offer a Portfolio Margin account to customers who have a minimum balance of $150,000 and submit an application for approval. Once approved, customers will have access to lower margin requirements and increased buying power as well as all of the other tradeMONSTER trading tools free of charge through the trading platform.
MarketShark by Revoc Technologies LLC is an iOS app that focuses on providing investors with professional-grade insight into the underlying value of public companies using fundamental analysis. The app crunches data from company financial statements, analyzing information such as cash flow, dividends, capital financing, debt, assets and earnings in a format designed for iOS devices. MarketShark displays information in easy-to-understand reports that can be customized to suit your needs and preferences. MarketShark is available in the App Store for $19.99.
MetaQuotes Software Corp. announced integration of its MetaTrader 5 Trading Platform with FX Grid, a global inter-institutional connectivity and trading network developed by Integral Development Corp. for the forex market. The connection of the trading platform with the diverse sources of liquidity on FX Grid benefits brokers by giving them additional means for covering risk, and benefits traders by giving them access to better prices.
Dow Jones Indexes announced the addition of four new indexes to its family of Dow Jones RBP indexes. The new series of indexes includes three U.S. large-cap “style” indexes: the Dow Jones RBP U.S. Large-Cap Growth Index; the Dow Jones RBP U.S. Large-Cap Value Index; and the Dow Jones RBP U.S. Large-Cap Core Index, which blends the growth and value styles. Also launched was the Dow Jones RBP U.S. Dividend Index. Large and actively traded securities are selected to the Dow Jones RBP indexes in part based on their RBP, or required business performance, probabilities.