Your Take 
55
comments

Your Take: Do You Use Online Personal Finance Tools?

There are a lot of online personal finance tools out there that will help make your personal finance life a little more efficient. You have, of course, the headliner in Mint.com, now owned by Intuit, to help track all of your spending. You have a litany of budgeting tools, like You Need a Budget, and they’ve all been popular because the idea of online privacy has been flipped on its head with the popularity of Facebook.

I have been asked, on occasion, which tools I use. I don’t use any of them.

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 Personal Finance 
17
comments

Stupid-Proof Budgeting

One of the first things you will hear from anyone who is helping you with your finances is about budgeting. A budget is usually the difference between someone who has their finances under control and someone who doesn’t. The problem is that budgeting is often on the to-do list right up there with “going to the dentist” and “cleaning the toilet.” You know you should do those things but really don’t want to.

If you are like me and hate budgeting, I’ve got a stupid-proof easy way to do your budget. After getting setup, it requires about 10 minutes or less per week to maintain and will help you develop a fully functional budget.

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 Personal Finance 
13
comments

Easy Budgeting for Non-Budgeters

Clever Way to BudgetBudgeting isn’t fun. Very few people look forward to tracking all of their purchases, cutting back when they’ve overspent, and adjusting their budget from month to month to meet changing conditions. However, it’s a necessary chore, like cleaning your house or apartment, that you should do because it’s good for your financial health. But so is exercising and according to the Department of Health & Human Services, we as a nation aren’t doing such a great job at that.

When I first started working, I was a very diligent budgeter. I recorded every single expense in a document called a Budget Bible, built from a template my friend Melinda sent me. I budgeted to the penny, the most labor intensive of the five budgeting systems I once wrote about. I kept it up for about six months but eventually I grew tired of it. It was important to budget to get a better handle on my finances, but once I had a handle the daily routine was unnecessary. I went from the most diligent of budgeters to a non-budgeter!

So how do I get back on the wagon? How does a personal finance blogger reform?

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 Government 
9
comments

Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar

2009 Louis Braille Silver Dollar - ProofAfter this morning’s post about cons, I thought I was getting conned when I started reading about the new 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar because I didn’t hear a single thing about it until today. Made me think of those Obama coins with a sticker on them! (don’t worry, these Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coins are real)

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 Personal Finance 
17
comments

Quicken Online Cash Tracking

Quicken Online is the entirely online version of Quicken that was released a while back to compete with online money management sites like Wesabe, Mint, and Yodlee. They recently announced that they added “cash tracking,” a feature where you can track where your cash spending is going.

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 Banking 
70
comments

Busting Cashback Tiers with Mint’s $1 Coin Direct Ship Program

My wife’s first credit card was Blue Cash by American Express because it offered 5% cashback on many of the things she bought. For those who went as far as to read the fine print, you’ll recognize that you can earn up to 5% cashback. The card works off the tier system where you don’t get the highest 5% cashback reward rate until you’ve reached a certain amount of spending each year. For some, the tiers are trivial. For others, the tiers are onerus. Here’s a great way to bust through them and make them almost irrelevant.

Buy money.
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 Your Take 
144
comments

Your Take: Do You Use Money Management Software?

Pen & Paper is Money Management Too!When I started working five years ago, I tracked my spending down to the penny. I wrote about my “Budget Bible” before when talking about financial leaks. I felt that tracking my spending down to the penny was a great way for me to identify the areas I was spending and gave me an opportunity to review those areas. I didn’t realize it but that Excel spreadsheet was my first foray into money management software!

Back in 2003, there weren’t many personal finance tools out there. The tools that did exist were young and untested. Nowadays, there are plenty of personal finance tools available to help you manage your money! You have the beautiful, feature-rich, venture-backed Mint.com, you have the big branded cash flow focused Quicken Online, and you have the relative gray beard of the bunch, Yodlee, all at your disposal.

Of the three, I’ve played with Mint.com and Quicken Online and use them sparingly. My question for you, on this fine Friday, is – Do you use money management software? Either online or offline? If so, which one? If not, why not?

As for this week’s bribe, I have a copy of Quicken Premier 2009 to give away to one lucky commenter. You don’t have to say you use Quicken or that you’ll try Quicken Online, you just need to leave a comment and share which software you use or if you don’t use any at all! Contest closes in one week, February 27th, and it’s void where prohibited. Good luck!

(Photo: paulworthington)


 Personal Finance 
18
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Best Online Personal Finance Tool

CNN recently looked at four absolutely free online personal finance management webapps and came away with a winner. They took a look at the accounts the tool tracked, how easy it was to use, what they liked best, what they liked the least, and the bottom line of each of the four tools. From what I know about each service, I can’t say I disagree with their assessments of each tool.

#1 Mint.com

Mint - Free Online Money Management ToolMint.com was named winner, edging out Yodlee’s MoneyCenter, because of their recent investment tracking additions. You can now track bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. Yodlee can track a couple other things like frequent flyer miles but it can’t track investments; I think investments trump mileage anyway, especially since I fly Southwest.

Another notable plus for Mint was it’s “inviting layout” (I considered Mint to be the most visually attractive of all the tools when I reviewed Mint) and their biggest minus was the thinly veiled advertising. I don’t think you can blame them, they have to pay the bills somehow.

#2 Yodlee MoneyCenter

As mentioned earlier, Yodlee MoneyCenter came in second with the most comprehensive feature-set but was austere in its layout. Another knock against Yodlee was how difficult it was to navigate. Yodlee is the backend that powers many of the other personal finance tools. Mint used to (and may still use) it to retrieving account transaction data.

#3 Quicken Online

Quicken Online has been around for a while but only recently offered their online application for free. They too can track bank accounts, credit cards, investments and loans (the same as Mint.com) and have been in the business for many many years, which means strong customer support. The only downside is you can’t sync the online with the desktop app.

#4 Wesabe

Wesabe has since closed its doors and been replaced with its own forums.

Wesabe took fourth because it had a much shallower feature-set letting you only get data from bank accounts and credit cards. Until recently, Mint.com had the same feature set as well but they’ve now put some distance between them. One security plus with Wesabe is that you retain your account login credentials on your computer, rather than storing them on the app’s server (encrypted, of course).

Of the four, I’ve used Quicken Online and Mint.com and, if forced to choose one, would pick Mint.com because of its interface and rich feature-set.


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