How to manage your money online
Published: 29 February 2008 By Fergal Barry-Murphy 2 Comments
In our last article in our series of money management software reviews we look some of the options that are available online.
Web 2.0 has transformed the internet. No longer is it just a place for browsing and reading. There are now some excellent web applications out there that allow for word processing, creating spreadsheets and other tasks that you would normally do with traditional software.
The last year or two has seen the emergence of some exciting web-based money management applications, and most of them are free. For browser-based applications they offer a surprising level of sophistication. And with applications like Portable Firefox that allow you to save all your browser settings to your thumb drive or your iPod, you can plug in and update at any computer with an internet connection.
So, here are three of the most popular web-based money management applications around.
Wesabe is a feature-rich online money management system that rivals traditional desktop personal finance applications such as Quicken or Microsoft Money. You can sign up for free and upload account statements so long as they are in QFX, OFC, or QIF format (CSV coming soon). It supports banks from 23 different countries including the UK. And while support for British users is still a little limited, Wesabe will add your bank if you request it. Wesabe even provides a desktop uploader so you can upload your accounts from your computer.
The Wesabe user interface is divided into three sections – Accounts, Tips and Goals. Your accounts can include all your current, savings and credit card accounts and you can drill down to examine all the transactions in each. However, Wesabe does much more than this. It will actually help you save money by giving you relevant tips based on your finances. So, if you buy a lot of electronic goods with your credit card it will actually give you tips on how you can save money on buying electronic goods and where to get the best deals.
You can also tag, categorise and edit transactions. You can set yourself goals, which Wesabe will keep you motivated towards achieving, and even join forums to chat with other Wesabe members with the same goals. There is an excellent community feel to Wesabe, and contributing and interacting with other members encouraged.
Mint.com is another excellent Web 2.0 money management offering that is absolutely free. Again, this is aimed mainly at the US market but it can have its uses, and it promises to add UK banks in the future. Mint.com has a much more attractive user interface than Wesabe.com and is more fully-featured. It already has a huge following in the United States. This is not surprising as it allows you to track your spending, budget, compare your spending to others and find better deals, and have all your accounts in one place. It will also provide you alerts for certain situations, such as due dates for bills and low balances. This is a really exciting web-app so watch this space for the UK version.
Intuit, which has produced the tried and trusted Quicken money management software for many years, has more recently launched its Quicken Online service. Like the above web applications you can synch all your accounts and access them from anywhere, even from your PDA or iPhone. It boasts some good features such as reminders, graphs, and budgeting. However, you have to pay for this service (about £1.50 a month) and, more importantly, it only supports US banks at the moment but this may change in the future.
Of the three online money management applications mentioned above Wesabe wins hands down as it provides the best support for UK customers. However, Mint and Quicken are also very impressive, so hopefully it is just a matter of time before they offer full support in the UK.