A Review of Personal Capital; Saving Money for Real Estate Investing

personal capital reviewSaving money is not easy whether you are saving money for retirement or to invest in real estate.  I recently started using Personal Capital to help me better keep track of my finances and this is a review of the good and bad features of the program.  It takes hard work and knowledge of what you spend money to save money.  It usually takes a lot of money to invest in real estate and saving money is vitally important to be a successful investor.  Personal Capital is a tool that I use to monitor my financials including what I spend money on, how much cash I have, what my net worth is, what my mortgage amounts are, what my retirement accounts are doing and much more.  The program is a free app for your phone or program on your computer.

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Why is it so hard for most people to save money?

Saving money is a simple concept; spend less then you earn.  To save money you have to know how much money you are spending and how much you are making.  It is really hard for me and others to save money, because I don’t want to have to spend less money on things I love.  Many people are even scared to see where they are spending money, because they don’t want to know how much they spend on certain things.  It sounds silly not to want to know where you are wasting money, but we don’t want to feel stupid for spending money on things we don’t need or are overpaying for.  Instead it is easier to ignore our finances and hope things get better on their own.  If you want to save money, you have to know where you are spending money and how much you are spending.

Here is a great article I wrote on how to save enough money to invest in real estate.

I have no problem spending money on things I love, especially since I bought a Lamborghini this summer.  Saving money is not about depriving you of things you love to do; there should be many things you can save money on that are not important to you.  By looking at what and how you spend money, you should find ways to save money on things you don’t care much about.  You also may find better ways to spend money on the things you do care about.  If you cut out the spending on things that don’t matter, you will have more money to spend on the things that do matter.

What is Personal Capital and how can it help you save money?

Personal Capital had a study done on them by UCLA and they found Personal Capital helped people reduce the amount of money they spend by 15%.  Personal Capital is a free program and app that helps you keep track of your finances, net worth and what you spend money on.  The app compiles data by linking to your bank accounts, mortgage accounts, car loan accounts, retirement accounts, insurance accounts and most accounts that you access online.  You enter the log in information and password for your accounts and the program automatically logs in and compiles data.  It tells you what your net worth is, how much cash you have, what you owe on credit cards, what you spend money on and even recommends an investing strategy.

The program lists all the money I spend from my bank accounts and credit cards and tells me exactly how much I spend on certain categories.  The program determines most categories for you, but you can also customize the categories to your liking.  The program runs on your computer or phone and it gives you a real-time update of your financials.  I can log in in to the app on my phone and see exactly how much money I have in each of my accounts, how my stock investments are doing and how much my credit card balances are.

How can personal capital help people save money?

The first step in saving money is knowing what you spend money on.  If you know how much you are spending, you will be actively thinking about what you spend money on.  The program also makes saving money like a game, because it tracks your money so well that you can see how simple changes save you money.  If you don’t think about saving money it is very hard to save it, but this program makes it easy and fun to see what you are spending money on.  The program also offers suggestions on how to save fees on mutual funds and retirement accounts.

How does Personal Capital help investors with their rental properties?

In Personal Capital I can enter every asset I own and every loan on those assets.  If you link to your online loan accounts; Personal Capital will track your loans for you as well.  I enter the address and my estimated value for each property and it compiles the financial data with my bank accounts and liabilities to figure my net worth.

I have a bank account for each of my 11 rental properties, my fix and flip company and my real estate company.  I can see all of those accounts on Personal Capital and Personal Capital totals the amount of cash I have as well.  Personal capital tracks income as well as expenses so I can see exactly how much money each property is making.

Personal Capital also will calculate you property values using Zillow.  I don’t think Zillow is the most accurate tool to value properties, but it gives you an idea of the value and increases or decreases in value.  I enter my property values manually to get a more exact value, instead of using Zillow.

Why is tracking your net worth important?

The big number Perusal Capital tracks is your net worth.  It lets you know how much it has increased or decreased every day.  Net worth is not always the most important financial figure to track, but it is a great indicator of your financial health.  It also a lot of fun seeing your net worth increase past important milestones like one million dollars.  The appreciating real estate market has really helped my net worth increase lately.

Is Personal Capital safe and secure?

The first thing my wife asked when I told her about this program is why would you ever enter your account info online?  What if the program was hacked and your information stolen?  I researched the safely on Personal Capital and I was satisfied my information would not be compromised.

  • Personal Capital’s CEO, Bill Harris previously co-founded PassMark Security, the company that designed the online authentication system that is now used by most of the major banks in this country
  • If you ever try to access the program you have to enter a 6 digit PIN number.  And if you access the program from a phone or computer you have never tried to access from previously; you must get a security code sent to you through text message or a telephone call.

What are the not so great things about Personal Capital?

There are some things I dislike about the Personal Capital app:

  • I had to update my IPhone to install the application.  Updating an iPhone is a huge pain and it took forever to clear enough space for the update.  I have an iPhone 4s and it had never been updated prior to the update for Personal Capital; most people with a newer phone will not run into this problem.
  • Personal Capital cannot pull information from every bank.  With my bank all my accounts and my personal mortgage information was linked, but my rental mortgages could not be linked.  I had to manually enter my rental property mortgage amounts.  Some people may not have access to their accounts if they bank at small local banks.

How does Personal Capital make money?

When I heard about Personal Capital I thought it sounded like a great tool and I was surprised it was all free.  It is not free for a week or month, but completely free.  They do make money through consulting and money management services.  After you have had the program for a week or two you will get a call from Personal Capital telling you how they can save you fees and charges on your accounts, mutual funds etc.  They offer to manage your money and help you save on fees.  I have not signed up for this service since  almost all my money is in real estate, but my assistant did.  He has been very happy with their service and performance so far.


I was a bit annoyed I had to update my phone to install the app and that all of my accounts would not link with Personal Capital.  Besides those two inconveniences I have been very happy with the program.  It lets me see my financial position without having to log in into my bank accounts, which is a pain on my phone.  Personal Capital is giving away $10 and $20 dollar Amazon gift cards for people who sign up and link an account starting midnight Pacific time on Black Friday.  More information is on the Personal Capital website here and they are ending the promotion after they have given away $50,000 in gift cards.






  1. genowefa November 30, 2014
    • Mark Ferguson December 1, 2014

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