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Your Take: Do You Use Online Personal Finance Tools?

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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.

I trust all the services to do the right thing and to protect my information and privacy, but I know that sometimes mistakes are made and things can happen. Maybe I’m a little too old school, I’m about the age where I am comfortable telling people where I am via Twitter but not comfortable telling a third party my banking credentials. Mint and the like will treat it with the sensitivity it deserves but… you never know. Consider the innocuous leak by Blippy a few months back in the strangest of ways (Blippy has leaked credit card numbers) or the way Citi’s app revealed sensitive information (again, in a strange way).

For me, the alternative isn’t that expensive, from a time or dollar perspective. I can use Quicken on my personal computer. The only difference is I don’t get access to community provided data. I am not interested in how much people are spending in groceries or rent this month because everyone’s situation is different. How much a single person spends in groceries will differ from a family of four. That person will probably spend less on housing too and I have yet to see a site aggregate community provided data in a way that is actionable. And while it’s nice to get something for free, Quicken Deluxe 2010 only costs $45.

Do you use online personal finance tools? If so, why? If not, why? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

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55 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Use Online Personal Finance Tools?”

  1. BrianC says:

    I use CreditKarma to get a rough estimate of my credit score, and Mint to keep track of my many checking and credit card accounts. At a certain point, the convenience of making sure I haven’t overlooked a bill (or unauthorized charges) makes up for the risk involved.

  2. andi says:

    I just start using You Need a Budget (YNAB) a month ago, and I am in love with it. Unlike Mint, it does not use any personal information such as account numbers. It is a downloadable software (similar in its private nature to Quicken) which does not require the internet at all, actually.

    However, I have found that it is very much superior to either Quicken or Mint. It is much easier to use (IMHO) than either program, for one, but I think it’s most outstanding feature is that it does not just show you where your money has gone, but it allows you to easily live within your means in the moment. Additionally, the support for the program (both from the developers and from other users in the message boards) is both extremely helpful and motivational.

  3. Eddie says:

    I’m not terribly worried about the security risk, but I do go by the basic principal of not spreading information any more than I need to.And I haven’t seen any of this stuff offer anything I couldn’t get elsewhere offline.

  4. Frugal Lady says:

    After hearing about security breaches on a frequent basis (Facebook, etc.), I am wary of any on-line tool. I’ve never used Quicken, but why spend even $45 when you’ve got Excel (or any other spreadsheet software) already? I do my own budgeting, planning for retirement, etc. on Excel. It’s free; that is, I already have the software. Besides, then you can use your own style.

  5. Derek Sopp says:

    I use Mint.com for all-in-one access to all of my accounts. I have several credit card accounts I don’t use and, rather than visiting each website on a regular basis when I know there shouldn’t be a balance, I enjoy having one website by which to check the status. There is still one aspect of Mint I’m not quite sure about – how does use of Mint affect a bank’s no-liability fraud coverage? Does that flow through to use of Mint? In other words, if it were determined that Mint had been hacked, your bank account number stolen and a fraudulent charge issued, would you still be covered by your bank against any fraudulent charges?

  6. poscogrubb says:

    No online tools for me, aside from my bank’s online tools.

    I used to use Microsoft Money despite the fear of locking my data up in a proprietary format. Sure enough, Microsoft Money has been mothballed.

    You can’t fool me twice… I’ve switched to GnuCash. It’s wonky and clunky right now, but it’s usable once you get used to the double entry system. Someday I hope to get into its guts and try my hand at contributing to an open source project.

  7. billsnider says:

    I want to add one additional thought to all of this.

    I hope that all of you who use a home grown tool like I do have it all password protected.

    Bill Snider

  8. Don C says:

    I started using Excel to track my checking account activity about 13 years ago when I was forced to switch from Lotus to Excel. My simple spreadsheet has turined into a 15+ tab monster that tracks not only current spending, but estimates the amount an timing of future spending current and future net worth, paycheck withholding, income tax calculations, mortgage, escrow, and other loan balances, and compares goals to actual.

    Under the ‘net worth’ tab, I have set up a quick stats section that shows things like changes in net equity (both $ and %), short term liquidity, home equity to total equity, and vice versa, % of 6 month reserve saved up, increase/decrease in non-mortgage debt, and various comparisons for retirement savings, college savings, overall wealth, and debt amounts to pre-definds goal amounts. I know I go too far with this, but as a CPA, it became a hobby. Plus, it makes me happy when I see improvement each year.

  9. To Jim & others who use Quicken,

    Do you input in all your transactions manually or do you let Quicken automatically update your information?

    I just ask because using Quicken’s auto-import is pretty much the exact same as using Mint

  10. I’m too paranoid to use anything that needs passwords and account info like Mint. So I use Excel (sometimes.) I really need to get better at tracking my spending.

  11. Tim says:

    use to use mint, but it didn’t do everything I wanted it to do. Plus, I’m not a fan of having so much personal info linked to one thing on line.

    tried Quicken next, and it again didn’t do what I wanted and it just seemed so cumbersome to work with, I gave up on it. I found that the automatic importing simply did not reconcile things properly, so I had to manually account for many things anyways.

    I’m back to my tried and true simple but very effective excel spreadsheet with various pages.

  12. ian says:

    I use Mint and love it. That said, I also protect myself my only giving Mint access to my Credit Card accounts (which I assume are protected if the info gets out) and a transitional checking account (where we get our direct deposit but that never holds more than is needed for a month of bills). They do not get access to our savings accounts, brokerages or retirement accounts.

    This allows us to see where every dollar goes and assign it to the budgeting categories we have set up. This gives us accountability to who is spending what and where our household money is going.

    Mint is not perfect, but it allows me to go more in depth with my finances than Excel does. (plus i can see my available budget on my smart phone) I also use Excel, but it is only updated monthly to make sure bills are paid, track loan amortization and see our net worth.

  13. RobMan says:

    I use Mint.com as it is a great place to aggregate all of my accounts and get a better picture of the whole. One advantage of Mint is they are able to pull in accounts (company sponsored 401K) that Quicken 2010 or other personal finance software can’t. Additionally you can setup reminders warnings etc.. I don’t use it heavily, as Quicken 2010 is my daily finance and back accout interface, but Mint is really convenient and its’ free.. my 2 cents (for free)..

  14. Art says:

    If you are downloading transactions in Quicken’s desktop edition, you may as well be using an online service. Both Mint.com and Quicken 2010 use Yodlee as a service provider. Your usernames and passwords are encrypted and stored by Yodlee. Yodlee, in turn, passes your financial info back to the application.

  15. I was actually thinking about this very topic, should I begin using some online finance tools to get a better grip on my finances. I really should try some of them out and see if they could help fine tune my finances. I currently do a pretty good job with spending conservatively and savings as much as possible, but I’m sure there are things that I could change to better reach my goals.

  16. TJ says:

    Let me say Yodlee SUCKS. I have sent a good amount of my time to try and get that stupid website to work. Have the time it tells me that my routing numbers are incorrect which I know they are not, my husband and I are trying to share accounts, that is crap, and it keeps logging me out for no reason in the middle of doing something. Plus when I try to do something most of the time is doesn’t work. I added my chase account and it took my bank info but not my cc info from there… I don’t get it.

    I have nothing but problems with it and i am trying to use their bill pay and I am afraid that my bills aren’t going to get paid. My husband was the one that wanted to use this and I am ready to kill him over it. I have been trying to find something else that has bill pay with it but I can’t find anything yet that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I use to use My Check Free which was great but then a lot of banks pulled from them.

  17. Hareiana says:

    Not sure how many like to budget online anonymously without giving out access to bank accounts and how many heard about this website but I used Out Of The Dark (OOTD) Budgeting for over a year now and it really changed my life financially. It has budgeting and expense tracking on one page side by side which I love, it has cash put-aside and personal stock management built in, and it has something called Credit Card Debt Terminator which I have not seen anywhere else which is great if one wants to get out of any credit card debt situation, it is completely anonymous to use, does not require me to give out access to any of my bank accounts and it’s unconditionally free. Find it at: myootd.org


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