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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!

{ 55 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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

  1. HuBu says:

    Mint.com helps to see which categories I spend the most on and control my spending.

    • Steve says:

      I use Mint and the categories are pretty cool, but you have to tweak it a bit or else it starts looking whacky.

      • jsbrendog says:

        yeah it def is weird. i’m not sure how i feel about this new goals interface. it hogs up a good amount of the front page…opinion tbd

  2. tbork84 says:

    Mint.com is pretty handy for tracking spending trends, and it has some nice features for people who need a little incentive for savings planning as well.

    • Jim says:

      The trending information is useful and something you probably wouldn’t bake into your own solution, so I can see the merits there.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i really like how easy it makes tracking all of my retirement funds in one simple interface. and it shows in red or green when it outperforms the market and when it doesn’t. interesting stuff

  3. billsnider says:

    Like you, I will not reveal sensitive info. I instead have built my own home grown stuff to meet my needs. I also password protect all of this stuff.

    Bill Snider

  4. Imani says:

    Believe it or not in this technological age, I use a 5X7 notebook to lay out my monthly budget. It works for me.

    • Jim says:

      Stick with what works, right?

      • echidnina says:

        I track things in an Excel spreadsheet – an only slightly higher-tech version of a budget notebook. I’ve been tempted to try something like Mint at some point, but I am wary of giving my sensitive data out. Even the most well-meaning companies can have leaks.

        • jsbrendog says:

          yeah i ue a spreadsheet as well, although not as much since mint. I at least keep and up to date list of bills on it, how much they cost, then have a section with saving, spending cash, and break glass in case of emergency. i tweak it every once in awhile when i have a purchase coming up or if i feel like i havent been saving enough

  5. cubiclegeoff says:

    I use yodlee mostly to be able to look at everything in one place. I keep track of our spending in excel.

  6. Maddhatter says:

    Once we understood what our monthly budget felt like (how much we could eat out, spend on groceries, etc.), Mint.com has helped us to streamline the budget process; however, we have run into problems lately with accounts not updating so we will probably go back to the excel spreadsheet. We also use Smarty Pig for some of our savings.

  7. Lara says:

    My husband works in financial innovation and loves Mint, Lending Club, Credit Karma, BillShrink,ING Direct, basically any tool that comes up online that helps us manage our money and save more.
    I still can get myself to make the jump from desktop quicken to online personal finance tools like mint. The idea of my financial info out there is scary.

  8. Hannah says:

    I love mint, and I don’t worry that they will leak my personal information. It’s not that I think it’s impossible, I know it’s a risk, but there are hundreds of other databases in the world with my information because I really had no choice but to provide it. For example, a company I applied to years ago mailed me saying my data was compromised. A hospital nearby recently lost 10 years worth of medical information. It happens anyway, so I just keep an eye on my credit report, and try not to be paranoid.

    • govenar says:

      Giving them your login info for all your bank accounts seems a little more risky than just your name/address/SSN that most other places have.

      • Backpack says:

        Well, we all give our bank passwords to our banks too right? It’s the same security/encryption levels. It’s not so much the “leak” from the site (although possible), it’s an attack from outside that’s the worry. Perhaps you double your chances if your encrypted info is stored two different places. But I agree with Hannah- it’s the world we live in. The custodians who have the money have ways to reconcile compromises.

  9. Shirley says:

    Excel meets all of my needs. Spreadsheets for nearly any financial purpose can be made to the user’s specs.

    I see no need for my financial info to be anywhere other than in my own control.

  10. NateUVM says:

    Built my own Excel budgeting spreadsheet. Monthly tabs that track spending, savings and income that roll up to a tab that displays the same info but for the whole year and compares it to “the plan.” Also displays a projected annual spend based on current rates of spending and compares that to budget as well. I don’t incorporate account balances as I feel that those are just a function of the information that I already have incorporated.

  11. I make my own Excel spreadsheets as well. JD from GetRichSlowly recently linked to a free template that is very similar to the one I made:
    http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/money-management-template.html

    I don’t actually use that one, but it looks to be pretty decent.

    I am not yet convinced that the slight benefits of online services are worth the risk in providing login credentials.

  12. Kevin says:

    I tried Quicken a while back, but the methods to import transactions were too clunky. I’d have to export from the website and import in quicken then hope all the fields matched up. Mint is super easy, everything is done automatically. Also allows my to keep a close eye on everything in one place. So if something does leak out I will likely notice it a lot sooner than I would have otherwise.

  13. Jim, you mentioned in the past that you use Credit Karma. Wouldn’t that go against your stance of not sharing personal info with third parties?

    I recently started using Quicken too and I’m liking it so far.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i really like creditkarma, but you have top realize it isn’t an exact score and might not actuallybe that close i believe. but it is a good guage and a good tool to use inconjunction with other credit score tools

  14. ziglet19 says:

    We use excel as well.

  15. M. Stewart says:

    SmartyPig combined with Mint.com. SmartyPig is nice and I like the added bonus of seeing my goals updated–a little psychological boost.

  16. Matt says:

    Mint.com? Really? Am I the only one who thinks they’re crap? There are numerous missing institutions and multiple accounts at a single institution often don’t work. Their customer service is worse and they don’t reply to requests to add institutions and solve the multiple account issue.

    Go with Thrive.

  17. otipoby says:

    Jim, I am right there with you. I was a long time MS Money user and on Jan 1, I switched over to Quicken. I doubt I ever have my info online (in one place). Getting Quicken setup can take some time. I chose not to import my 15 years of Money data into Quicken and to start fresh. I am an avid “catagorizer” so that I can tell how my spending is changing. I also have a few special purpose Excel spreadsheets.

  18. I use Excel spreadsheets for everything. Do like the concept behind mint.com and seeing all of my accounts in one place.

  19. I use an application we developed at MoneyObedience.com. While I have no problems doing online banking and using internet banks, I am a little concerned about giving mint.com total access to my accounts. I rather stay anonymous and keep the passwords to myself.

  20. cdiver says:

    Why do some banks charge to have access via Quicken?

  21. cg says:

    I use Quicken currently and like it. Like others, I’m concerned about privacy and would rather keep my info on my own computer.

    That said, Wesabe, which is shutting down tomorrow, just released their source code on github. I’m a computer geek, so I’ll be trying it out this weekend. If it works out, it may replace Quicken for me. : )

  22. Dustin says:

    I’ve been using Quicken Online for over a year and love it! Unfortunately it is being decommissioned in favor of Mint (which I don’t care for). I’m looking into Yodlee as an alternative but I may just go back to Excel.

  23. Why, when Excel will do the job?

    • echidnina says:

      Excel does the job, but other services can offer additional bells, whistles, or analysis. It depends on what you’re looking for. For instance I can definitely see the appeal of something like Mint when you use several different companies for your banking – logging into one site after another is time-consuming.

  24. zapeta says:

    I have used Mint in the past, but I stopped because they had trouble updating my balances from my main bank. For a long time I used to keep my budget in Excel, but that wasn’t really working for me and so I started using YNAB. YNAB has really helped me follow the budget and plug several holes in my budget. It was well worth the price as far as I’m concerned, and it doesn’t do anything with your bank account info online like Mint does.

  25. WRXTuan says:

    I use Mint for my investments and my savings account (which are from large national brokerages/banks), but I still use my personal login for my checking account at my local credit union (Mint has problems with my Credit Union’s you are a person not a bot login intermediate). In addition to Mint, I’ve been using the PearBudget spreadsheet for my tracking of expenses and to make a budget. It is quite possibly the easiest straightforward personal finance spreadsheet I’ve ever used.


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