Managing your finances is one of the most important things you can do to get ahead and stay ahead of the financial curve. Thankfully there are some excellent, and free, online tools to help you to quickly and easily manage your finances.
Qualifications for this list. The following online money management tools are listed because they meet several criteria, namely, they are free, online, and they are secure. In most cases the companies use the same standards as required for online banking, and in some cases offer a higher level of security.
Online security. Many people are concerned about online security, and rightly so. Identity theft is a growing problem and will continue to be a problem. But you can prevent identity theft by vigilance and smart computing.
Best FREE Online Money Management Tools
Yodlee. Yodlee is one of the oldest and most comprehensive online money management programs. Yodlee differs from most of the other tools listed here because it is not a cash flow or budgeting tool – it is a one stop shop to track your financial health and offers “a consolidated view of all assets… from accounts such as brokerage, insurance, 401(k), mortgage, etc.” Being able to track your entire net worth online is a great feature, but Yodlee offers much more than just tracking net worth. Users can create a budget and track spending, monitor online accounts, create expense analysis charts, track real estate value, or share access to your account (great to share info with your spouse, accountant, or financial planner).
Customers can transfer funds, pay any biller or individual, pay bills via credit and debit card, receive eBills from over 2,900 institutions, create transaction alerts, set up mobile access and more. To top it off, Yodlee is one of the most secure online money management tools out there.
Mint. Mint has taken the financial community by storm in the last year by bringing in over 1 million new users. That is an astounding growth rate, and for good reason. Mint offers a great money management tool, and it is completely free. Mint’s business model is to bring in users with a quality product, analyze their spending, saving, and other financial habits, and offer suggestions for improvements, including showing users how much money they could save or earn by using credit card with a lower interest rate, earning higher interest from a bank account, buying a less expensive cable service, and other ideas. Mint is able to offer a free product because they make money by referring products and services to customers, but they always show you how much money you can save or earn and why it would be a good idea to do so. You can’t turn the ads off, but you can always ignore them, which is a small price to pay for a quality financial management product. Mint is designed primarily to track cash flow and budgeting, and recently added the ability to track investments. Mint also offers an iPhone app.
Quicken Online. Quicken Online is Intuit’s answer to Mint and it performs similarly, but without the advertising. Quicken Online is not as robust as the desktop version but it is aimed at a different crowd – people who are looking for a quick and easy way to track their expenditures and cash flow. Quicken Online is a great way to set up and track your budget online, and monitor your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, loans, expenses and cash flow. Follow this link for a more in-depth Quicken Online review. Unfortunately, there is no way to link Quicken Online to the desktop version at this time. Quicken Online also offers an iPhone app.
If you are looking for a more powerful platform including tracking your investments, net worth, and other assets, then check out these Quicken discount codes for great savings on Quicken’s desktop version.
Wesabe. Wesabe combines social networking with money management and tracking capabilities. Users create a user name and can join groups, set financial goals, and share tips and information with each other. Wesabe also offers the ability to create tags for your expenditures and automatically label your purchases from a store. Other features include a substantial user forums, ability to create reports & graphs, and more.
Expensr. Expensr is one of the more secure online money management programs – they don’t actually connect to your bank account like some of the other programs do. However, that makes using Expensr a little more cumbersome because you need to upload your account information in an OFX file or manually upload information. Not all banks will export your information in an OFX file, so be sure to check with your institution(s) before signing up for an Expensr account (or be prepared to do it manually). Expensr has an online community, but it is not as “social as some of the other free online money management sites. Expensr is probably the best option for those who are concerned about online security and don’t mind manual inputs if your bank doesn’t support tehir information format. Those who are looking for convenience or a hopping social community should probably look elsewhere.
BudgetPulse. BudgetPulse.com features a fresh and easy to use interface and is best used for building a budget and monitoring your current financial status. BudgetPulse.com also offers another layer of protection between their application and the user’s account information: “For security reasons, we do not and have no intention to link direct to users’ banking account data.”
Buxfer. Buxfer is one of the better options for those who are concerned about online privacy and storing their financial information on a third party server. Buxfer allows users to store their login information on their desktop and will only use it to make a connection to the user’s financial information for downloading recent data; the account info is not stored. You can track your expenses in Buxfer through manual inputs, or by importing your payment statement from your bank, Quicken, or Microsoft Money.
Buxfer also offers a social aspect and allows users to communicate via messages and forums. Buxfer offers a free basic account, but there are two other options available, Plus and Pro. Plus costs $1.79/month and Pro is $2.79/month. Buxfer Plus offers unlimited personal budgets, account links, bill reminders as well and cashflow projections. Pro offers the same features as the Plus version without any advertising.
Geezeo. Geezeo features one of the most active social user groups and offers more opportunity to interact with other members that most other online money management tools. Users can set goals, budgets, join groups, share information, have discussions, or read their blog for more money magement tips. Geezeo can import information from most financial institutions, but some users have reported problems importing data from ING Direct, which would prevent Geezeo from being an option for me.
Which of these online money management tools is best?
It depends on your wants and needs. Here is a quick overview of each tool’s features:
- Yodlee - Monitor net worth, financial accounts, set alerts, make online payments, and more.
- Mint, Quicken Online, BudgetPulse.com - Manage cash flow and create a budget.
- Buxfer, Expensr, BudgetPulse.com - Stronger security (they don’t store your account information).
- Geezeo, Wesabe, Buxfer, and Expensr - Social networks, learning from others, comparing yourself to others in similar situations (age, education level, etc.).