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Personal Capital Review

What if you have investment accounts, more than one mortgage, banks accounts and credit spending scattered all over the place? Sure, you could probably keep track of it all with Mint.com, but would you be able to more effectively manage it all?

While Mint.com [3] works great for those looking to accomplish basic tracking tasks, such as keeping up with spending, and tracking investment performance, it’s more about budgeting, and looking at your habits. Mint.com won’t actually advise you about your options for the future. If you want a financial application that will help you set a financial course (rather than build a budget using your past spending information), you might turn to Personal Capital [4].

What is Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is a freemium app that can help you with cash flow management. It will help you track your investments — and provide you with information related to your asset allocation. (It will also analyze the investment fees you pay, and help you find ways to save more.) It will automatically update your spending, and look for trends that can help you adjust your course to meet your financial goals and needs.

Personal Capital is aimed at those who might be considered upper middle class [5]. These are folks who have a variety of investments, might have a second home, and who have a cash flow system that is a little more complex than many of those who use Mint.com. However, even though these folks might be considered “wealthy” by some standards, they may not have the assets or net worth to be seriously considered as clients for some of the top flight money managers and advisers. Personal Capital is being billed as a solution that can help you better manage your cash flow, taking you beyond budgeting. It’s supposed to be about more than looking through your spending habits to spot “problem” areas where you could cut back; it’s supposed to help you manage your cash flow, now and in the future.

On top of that, Personal Capital will also connect you with a financial adviser [6] who can help you manage your investments, and your other money issues. Indeed, Personal Capital is the front-end for a business that aims to make money. So, while the basic tool is free, once you start getting more personalized advice, you have to decide whether it’s worth paying a financial adviser to help keep you on track.

Mint.com is Probably Just Fine for Most People

For most people, Mint.com (or Quicken, which I use) is probably just fine. You can track all of your accounts with Mint, and your information is automatically updated. You can receive bill reminders and spending alerts. For those who want to keep track of things, and recognize their own spending trends and patterns, Mint.com is a great tool. And, of course, with Mint you won’t be receiving a sales call soon after signing up. (Personal Capital tries to send an adviser your way as soon as possible after you sign up — using the phone number that you provide.)

In the end, what tool works best for you depends on your situation. Think about your financial needs, and your situation, and consider whether you might need a little extra help.