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Monday, February 22, 2010

Online Personal Finance, the secure way

I have previously discussed the products on offer from both Kublax and Lovemoney for managing personal finances online.  Since then, Kublax has come in to financial difficulties, although it seems there could still be light at the end of the tunnel with what they say are advanced negotiations with SimplyFinance.

Both these products use a service provided by Yodlee which allows users to have transactions from their bank accounts imported automatically in to their software so you can see how much you’re spending, what you’re spending it on and create a budget and track how you are doing against it.  While the basic idea and functionality is great, there is the aspect of having all your online banking logins stored by a 3rd party and what would happen should their servers and databases become compromised.  They may use very high levels of security, but nothing is perfect, and personally I’d rather not take the risk with such information.

ccb Since evaluating these two options I have come across a third, ClearCheckbook.com,  which works in a similar way to AceMoney (that I currently use on my PC), Quicken or Microsoft Money.  The advantage is that it is web-based so unlike when I was forced to stop using Quicken when I got a new PC with Windows Vista, I am not tied to any particular operating system.  Even a switch from Windows to Linux, Mac OS or any other OS with a web browser is a possibility without having to change software.

It is still early days but I am already loving this software. The interface is very user friendly, clearly displaying recent transactions, account balances and more in a layout similar to iGoogle.  It is a bit slower to get up and running than Lovemoney as with Clearcheckbook you have to manually enter transactions, but the advantage is you don’t need to provide any banking login details, account numbers or even the name of the bank if you wish.  That said it supports recurring transactions, so for regular payments such as mortgage, rent, utilities etc you only need to set this up once and the rest is entered for you.  You can even create reminders so for things such as car or home insurance which need renewing annually.  If you are already using a piece of financial software, it will even import you transactions in all the main formats.

The only downsides I have found so far are the very limited number of categories for income and expenditure, although the option is there to add more.  The same can’t be said for account types which are limited to Cash, Checking, Savings and Credit Cards.  So far I have put loans in as credit cards and this doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects.  The only other thing that would be nice is if investments could also be managed, though this is available to do for free from some of the big boys such as Google.  It is an American site too, so being English things like date formats and the incorrect spelling of cheque are a little irritating, but not enough to put me off altogether.

As I said it is still early days of testing, but first impressions are very good and there are still plenty of features to try out such as the iPhone and Android apps, so I’ll post again in a few weeks when I have had more time to play.

2 comments:

laura smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laura smith said...

Hello, I appreciate your finace writing. I'm a banker and like to highlight on budgeting. By what method would you be able to know where your cash is going in the event that you don't budget? By what means would you be able to set using and sparing objectives in the event that you have no idea where your cash is going? You require a budget if you make thousands or a huge number of dollars a year. thanks all!!
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