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Day 12) Online Money Management Tools (part 2)

Welcome to Day 12 of Where’s My Money Going? Month! This February 2009, I’m challenging readers (and myself) to track spending manually for 28 days. Don’t worry if you’re late to the party, you’re still welcome to join. Consider tracking your spending into March.

Even though I’m tracking my money manually this month, I’ll be reviewing some programs which allow you to automatically track your accounts online. Keeping all your account information in one place can speed up manual tracking or help you do less of it, simply reconciling your numbers periodically.

Yesterday I reviewed and Geezeo. Today I’ll be following up by looking at Quicken Online and Yodlee. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about Wesabe, Buxfer, and Expensr. All seven are free, trusted places to monitor your money online. I have tried out all 7 and will be sharing my thoughts about the pros and cons of using each.

Trying Out Quicken Online

Like Mint (and unlike Geezeo), Quicken Online is not a very community-oriented site. It has a clean, web 2.0 look and a similar layout for looking at your accounts, transactions, budget, etc. I’d say that it’s more like Mint than like the advanced Quicken software you might have on your computer.

It’s quite easy to review transactions and set up budget items just as you can in Mint. You can also set up goals (just as you do in Geezeo).

There is essentially no advertising on Quicken Online, though that’s mostly because the site is sort-of an advertisement in itself. They don’t push Quicken software on you, but I think they’re hoping you’ll become accustomed to it and want the real power that Quicken’s software can give you.

Quicken Online does have a small community aspect in that you have an option of asking the community questions. I didn’t even notice until I’d visited it a number of times.

The major downside for me is that Quicken is one of the sites which as trouble with ING Direct (and Sharebuilder). Transactions aren’t available between 9am and 6pm. I haven’t had that difficulty with Mint.

If it weren’t for the ING issue, I might prefer it over Mint, I’m not sure.

Trying Out Yodlee

Yodlee is the grandparent of all the “track your money online” sites. It is the most professional (old-school professional) looking, most like a bank website. It doesn’t have Web 2.0, but somehow that makes it feel less slick and more stable. Yodlee backs up this impression by having the most complicated login process of any of the sites I tried out. For ING Direct customers, it’s about like logging in there.

You can tell that Yodlee takes your finances seriously. It has some nice extra features like bill pay, which make it seem more like a service than a tracking website. It also offers the convenient option of opening one of your banks’ websites in another window so you can immediately act on something you’ve seen in your finances.

Yodlee doesn’t offer a budget section or offer you the chance to set goals. For some, this might be a turnoff, but I haven’t had great luck with online budgeting anyway…it’s always so much of a hassle. So the lack of budgets doesn’t matter to me. It might make a difference to others.

Yodlee does have a support forum, mostly about helping you use Yodlee and making it better. Your forum account is tied to your ID (which only staff can see) so you can get help on your account based on forum posts.

This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Wesabe, Buxfer, and Expensr.

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Grant Baldwin February 12, 2009 at 10:41 am

Great summary of these various tools so far. I just started using Mint after being a loyal Microsoft Money user for years, so it’s nice to read some solid summaries of all the options out there.

Nice work!

Adam Roades June 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Thanks for the review. I recently learned that MS is discontinuing Money (which I’ve used for years) so I’ve been hunting for an online alternative. So far, I’m leaning towards Yodlee for it’s powerful management features.

FYI, you state:

Yodlee doesn’t offer a budget section or offer you the chance to set goals.

It’s a bit buried, but it actually does provide this feature. When you’re logged in, go to “Spending Reports,” then look for a link that says “Set budget goals by expense category.” There you go!

Adam Roades’s last blog post: Technology Historical Preservation [change is hard]

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