SigFig: The Simple Way to Keep Up With Your Investments

Keeping up with your finances can be tricky, especially if your pay and bills aren’t consistent every month. But you know what’s even harder to keep track of? Investments. Those tricky things have the bad habit of gaining and losing value all the time, and knowing the actual amount you have in stocks and bonds at any given time is usually a guess at best. Then, if you want to know if your investments are actually working out good for you, you’ll need a ton more research … and luck.

SigFig is a new web app that aims to make it much simpler to keeps tabs on your portfolio and know exactly what you have and what’s happening with your investments in real-time. Let’s take a look and see if it’s the app you’ve been needing to take the guesswork out of investing.

Yes, the screenshots were taken a bit ago, when AAPL and others were trading quite a bit higher. The app’s still the same … and no, it doesn’t magically make your stocks stay high.

SigFig the Pig

Remember the piggy bank you had as a kid? It sure is a lot more complicated to manage finances as an adult. For one thing, your pennies as a kid didn’t change value overnight (at least, not that you knew). But here’s a new pig to help you with your adult finances.

SigFig will remind you at first glance of Mint.com, in many ways it works. It lets you see info about your finances, and shows you opportunities to save money with your financial services, but doesn’t let you actually edit anything in your finances directly from the app, just like Mint. Since SigFig is designed just for investments, though, while Mint is designed for normal bank accounts, they really compliment each other nicely.

No pennies for you this time, Mr. Pig. Just data.

Setting up your SigFig account is terribly simple. Just select your brokerage company, enter your account info, and you’ll be ready to go. If your brokerage doesn’t happen to be available in SigFig, you can enter the tickers manually for the stocks, bonds, and funds you own (or not: you could enter tickers manually to watch your own “fantasy portfolio” if you want).

After a quick introduction to the app, you’ll see your portfolio overview in SigFig, ready to help you see how your investment strategies hold up against other funds and indices. You’ll see the total value of your accounts on the left, along with the dollar and percentage change. On the right, you’ll see the movers and shakers in your accounts, and can choose to have SigFig show the total percentage or dollar amount of change. In the middle, you’ll see a graph comparing your portfolio’s performance to the S&P 500, as well as to any other indices you’d like to see. This will help you see if you’re beating the market … or not.

A complete SigFig account

Digging Deeper

The best thing about SigFig is that it makes it easy to see the basic info about your investments, and also lets you dig deeper without getting overwhelmed with data. Right from the sidebar, you can hover over each of the tickers listed to see quick info about that stock’s one-day changes, along with relevant news headlines about the stock. Most of the news headlines will be focused on the financial aspects of that company or fund, so they’re usually very useful. Yes, it has surfaced the odd article (including an entry today about a recipe using apples – the fruit – under my AAPL ticker), but it does far better finding relevant investment news than, say, Google News search.

All the info about AAPL you’d want. Featuring #mapgate.

Click the Charts tab in the header to see even more info about your investments, including a chart of your asset allocation, dividends, and a quick metric of the risk your portfolio has compared to other portfolios. You’ll see even more valuation metrics on the right column, and can dig deeper into the fundamentals and performance of your investments in the Holdings tab. Again, the main thing it does is makes it simple to get some rough info about your portfolio (yes, I’m doing ok compared to other funds … or not), while giving you the tools to dig deeper if you want to. As noted before, you can’t trade in SigFig; it’s all about the data, and if you want to act on what you’ve learned, you’ll need to head over to your brokerage account.

Want more data? Well, here you go.

Much like Mint, SigFig is funded by advising you on other ways to save money through your financial institutions. It’ll show you suggested brokerages that will trade cheaper or for free, and will let you find the best brokerage for your portfolio based on your trading history and current holdings. It’s terribly difficult to figure out what’s the best brokerage for you, with so many different fees and options from each firm, so this can actually be a pretty handy way to dig deeper and find ways to save money at the same time you’re trying to see if your portfolio is making as much money as you want.

Considering how much trading can cost, these tips can be valuable.

Staying Informed

The reason I’ve kept using SigFig, and indeed the reason I ended up reviewing it, is the weekly emails. SigFig automatically turns the data from your account into a nice email that shows you almost everything you’d see by quickly logging into the app, right inside your email. It’s enough to keep you informed about how your portfolio is doing, gives you some quick advice and news about your funds, and more. I personally don’t do enough investment day-to-day to need to login to my brokerage account often, but the weekly emails have helped me feel more informed (and frustrated or excited about my portfolio’s performance) than I would have been by just watching tickers scroll by on TV news or in Dashboard on my Mac. For me, the emails are the best reason to use SigFig.

Email: The killer app of ever year since it was invented

Conclusion

If you’ve been looking for a better way to stay on top of your investments without taking too much of your time, SigFig might be just what the doctor ordered. It isn’t perhaps the best app for professional traders, and won’t be replacing Bloomberg terminals anytime soon, but for the rest of us, it’s a great way to turn all the financial data online into some real meaningful information about our own money.

Say, that’s far more than our childhood piggy banks ever did!


Summary

The simple way to keep track of your investments from any device

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