Monday, December 22, 2008

Bits: Top Personal Finance Sites

"Here is a roundup of several of the dozens of new personal finance sites:
Mint: Give Mint the log-in information for your bank, credit card and brokerage accounts, and each night it pulls in your data and arranges it in charts to show you how much you are worth and where you spend your money. Users can text “Balance” to MYMINT to get their account balances on their cell phones, or download the brand new iPhone application. Mint says it will never add a social networking component. You get a lot of bad personal finance advice from random other people,” said its founder, Aaron Patzer.
Wesabe: Like Mint, Wesabe aggregates your financial accounts and enlightens you about your spending patterns. But it also offers a social network, where people can chat with others online, anonymously, about how much they have lost in their retirement accounts or how to cut spending, for example. Users can add transactions to their Wesabe accounts on the go by using Twitter, with a message like “Wesabe $2.95 Starbucks.”
Quicken Online: Sites like Mint and Wesabe originally sprang up as alternatives to Quicken, the bookkeeping software for PCs from Intuit. Quicken responded with its own Web-based version. Quicken also offers mobile applications, like Quicken Beam, which allows people to view their last five transactions from their phones.
Cake Financial: Cake aggregates all of your brokerage accounts and makes recommendations based on high-performing portfolios on the site. People can talk about questions like, “Are we all better off in cash right now?” Unlike other stock message boards, Cake shows whether people own the stocks they are talking about and how their portfolios have performed. The new Investor Quick Check benchmarks your portfolio against the market and other investors.
PearBudget: This simple tool guides you through a budgeting spreadsheet. You can use it free for 30 days and then pay $3 a month (in exchange, it doesn’t show ads for financial services and products, as many of the other sites do). It does not pull your account balances in from the Web – you have to enter them. “If the program is doing all of the work for you, it doesn’t help you know where your finances stand,” said Charlie Park, its founder.
Credit Karma: Unlike other credit score sites that charge users or limit the number of times per year they can check their credit score, Credit Karma lets people check their scores as much as they want, free. Users can track their scores over time and talk with others about how to improve them.
SmartyPig: At this virtual piggy bank, users set savings goals, and the site withdraws money from their checking accounts each month and holds it in an account that currently earns 3.9 percent a year. Users share their accounts with family and friends, to solicit donations or moral support, and add widgets to their social network profiles or blogs. When it’s time to cash in, they have the option of getting retailer gift cards worth a few percentage points more than they saved. "

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