Top Ten Web-Based Money Management Tools

Many of the best budgeting software tools are totally free. We list the top 10 options for paid and free apps. The #1 budgeting app is totally free.

best budgeting software

Each decade brings new and innovative ways to manage your money. In the 1990s, you could use simple PC-based software to track basic income and expenses. These later evolved into reporting and analyzing powerhouses.

In the 2000s, connectivity with the internet made PC-based software easy to synchronize with bank and investment websites. The connectivity, in turn, provided access to detailed account information right at home.

With the arrival of the 2010s, the next phase is to manage the information that already resides out on the internet. We accomplished this through web-based software that will provide data security, keep the records protected against loss, and allow the user access their information from virtually anywhere.

Here’s a list of ten of the best web-based solutions for managing your money.

1. Personal Capital

Emphasis: Tracking your wealth
Price: FREE!
Description: Personal Capital offers a wide variety of tools that allow you to track your banking, investing and retirement accounts. Perhaps their greatest feature is the retirement planner, which can point you in the right direction to secure your future. Personal Capital also has a great cash flow tool which you can use to track returns and dividends on your investments.

2. Wela

Emphasis: Online financial management + advice
Price: FREE!
Description: A lot of personal finance management software allows you to track your accounts.  Wela is a little bit different in that it actually provides you advice based on your financial situation.  Through an app, with a robot named Benjamin, Wela will look at your accounts and make suggestions.  “Perhaps you should be saving your money with Ally, which has a high interest rate” (for example).  Users can choose to listen or ignore the advice, but if you’re looking for actionable steps, look no further.

3. ClearCheckbook

Emphasis: Balancing your checkbook
Price: FREE!
Description: ClearCheckbook provides analysis tools for evaluating and tracking your expenditures. Your bank data is imported, and you can then analyze expenses by category and closely monitor your balance to avoid overdrafts. Uncleared and cleared balances are provided with alerts that can be set to any dollar amount.

 

4. MorningStar

Emphasis: Virtual portfolio tracking
Price: $18.95/month (or free)
Description: MorningStar offers a bunch of excellent premium content to paid subscribers. They also have a great portfolio tracker tool for the investor who sits at a computer all day. Quick glances at your portfolio will alert you to buying and selling opportunities.

Note from Nickel: Google Finance also offers a nice portfolio tracker, and it’s also free. I’m also not a fan of tracking my portfolio on a minute-by-minute basis, but… To each their own. Personally, I use the Vanguard portfolio tracker for a “big picture” view of our investments.

5. Buxfer

Emphasis: Tracking shared expenses
Price: FREE!
Description: Buxfer is great for people who share expenses with roommates. Instead of guessing at fair portions of bills and tracking things in your head, the software does the math and tracks who has paid for each of their expenses.

6. HelloWallet

Emphasis: Online financial management
Price: $8.95/month
Description: HelloWallet is a unique service in that, for every five users who sign up, an account is offered to a person who cannot afford this service. The site offers all the money management functionality necessary to manage and budget and monitor financial investments.

7. Mvelopes

Emphasis: Virtual envelope budgeting
Price: $129.60/year (equivalent to $10.80/month)
Description: Mvelopes is a virtual envelope-budgeting tool. When the bills must be paid, the dollar amount in each envelope is applied to the bill electronically. In other, budgeting and bill payment are combined into one handy tool. You can also track discretionary spending in a dedicated envelope.

8. Moneystrands

Emphasis: Manage cash flow and avoid surprises
Price: FREE!
Description: Moneystrands allows you to create a budget from the ground up, and then it monitors your performance. Alerts are provided automatically when the bank balance drops below a certain level. When bills must be paid, the user is alerted to the tasks that must be completed. They also have an iPhone app.

9. Mint

Emphasis: Complete financial management
Price: FREE!
Description: Mint can track virtually any financial activity. You can create a budget, track monthly expenses, evaluate investment performance, etc. This is by far the most well-known of all the web-based software packages. It’s so good, in fact, that Intuit bought it as a replacement for their own “Quicken Online.”

10. BudgetPulse

Emphasis: Budget planning
Price: FREE!
Description: If writing down a new monthly budget isn’t your thing, BudgetPulse can help to make it easier. Users can import and export their personal finance data, create graphs and charts for category spending, and bring in any financial statement. The primary downside to this easy to use software is that as of today, nothing syncs with your financial institution. The data needs to be input manually.

Do you track your finances online?

Even with the horror stories of website breaches and identity theft, my view is that the benefits of online personal financial management software far outweigh the risks. These services all work hard to protect your information, and some even allow anonymous signups. If you’re not already managing your money online, my advice is to test out a few of these sites and see if they meet your needs.

27 Responses to “Top Ten Web-Based Money Management Tools”

  1. Anonymous

    Great tips here!! I really wanted to know about the Web-Based Money Management Tools. After reading your blog, I found the top ten tools listed for managing money. I can say it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  2. Anonymous

    1. Justthrive.com, another Mint alternative, recently acquired by lending tree, has been shut down.

    2. Mint.com was great when it was Mint.com. Once acquired by Intuit, its has gone downhill.

    3. Wesabe.com too has shut down.

    4. Yodlee is the wholesaler, the back-end for most account aggregation websites, . Mint.com uses Yodlee. BofA uses Yodlee for their MyPorfotlio service. Chase, Wells Fargo, Amazon Payments, TD Bank, RBC Bank etc.

    5. So, in any case, our data is always and always transferred form servers to servers. The utmost we can do is rely on the Bank’s ToS for zero fraud and liability.

  3. Anonymous

    Are there any tools that are similar to Mint.com but don’t consolidate all of the user’s login credentials? What would be ideal to me is a model where I login to all of my sites and inform them of the central financial management site and they “push” the data to the site instead of the site having to login and “pull” the data. This model would keep all of the credentials isolated to the individual financial sites the way they are now. Is there any tool that uses that model?

  4. Anonymous

    Mint.com changed my life, period. I am no longer afraid to pay my bills because the program has already “set aside” the budgeted amount and deducted it for me–so it’s there when the bill arrives. Whew. I know exactly how much I have from minute to minute in every account and how much I owe. I know my net worth. In a few minutes this program revolutionized my entire sense of my financial picture.
    It has been like I was swimming in a dark sea and finally came up on a sunny beach where I can see clearly.
    Mostly I found out I am a terrible liar about my financial status, and now I can’t lie any more.
    Now I understand why the first thing financial planners tell you is “budget” and “find out how much you have.” The truth really does set you free and also can make you wealthy.
    I have saved more in the 3 months I have been using Mint than I had in the previous 3 years.
    It takes practice and tweaking but that’s half the fun.

  5. Anonymous

    I tried mint when Quicken Online went offline, but I couldn’t stand it. There was no way to add future transactions in my checking account and calculate future balances, and that was crucial to me. I’ve been using Yodlee ever since.

  6. Anonymous

    Indeed, yodlee.com provides a superset of capability over mint.com, albeit a more complicated system. Everyone that uses debit and/or credit cards and a checking account should use mint.com. Those who don’t have a free bill pay service, should consider yodlee.com, as it does.

  7. Anonymous

    @ Ace,

    Under the additional provisions of my bank’s policy, which I do not quote because of lengthiness, it disclaim any liability due to “breach of security caused by a third-party.” I read that as including a company such as Mint.

    I’m not losing much by my interpretation of my bank’s policies and choosing not to use Mint. Just the use of Mint’s services. I could be wrong, but it’s not worth the risk to me. If you’re confident that your bank’s policy covers you, best of luck to you. I would want something a little bit clearer and weighty–something to hang my hat on if the shit hits the fan.

  8. Anonymous

    Sunny: When you gave Mint your username and password, did you authorize Mint to access your account, or the hacker that stole your information and emptied your account?h Just because you give your password to Mint doesn’t mean you have “authorized” the individual that stole the password. Under your bank’s policy that you’ve quoted, the you would not be responsible for any fraudulent charges.

  9. Anonymous

    Just a follow-up: My bank states in it’s Terms and Conditions that “You agree not to give your Username, Password or Security Key to anyone you do not authorize to use your Internet Banking Account. If you do, you will be responsible for any money withdrawn or transferred from your Accounts when such person uses your Password or Security Key.”

  10. Anonymous

    @ Ace.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. Two points come to mind.

    1. Can you point to a specific bank’s terms of service or terms of use that indicates they will offer fraud protection in the event you *willingly disclose your password to a third party?*. Do banks allow themselves to be on the hook when customers’ don’t handle their login credentials and passwords with care? It’s one things to compensate for customers’ losses due to no wrong-doing on the customers’ part. It’s another to cover their losses because their customers’ go around on the Internet and provide their information to websites that haven’t been around for more than a few years.

    2. I agree–If someone wants your info, there are easier ways to get it. But if someone wants 50,000+ bank accounts’ information, there isn’t an easier way to get it than attacking a website the aggregates and collects information, such as Mint. By the way, I know your login password into Mint is encrypted. Are the login credentials and passwords stored in Mint encrypted as well. My preliminary Googling says “no”, because that information needs to be unencrypted in order to be fed to the banks’ websites.

  11. Anonymous

    Sunny is not right. Virtually every bank and/or investment account out there includes fraud protection. Does the catch-phrase “You are not liable for unauthorized charges” ring a bell? Credit cards by law are required to absolve customers for unauthorized charges (though the law allows the company to make the card holder pay the first $50, few companies actually require that).

    If someone breaks into Mint’s database, steals account passwords and empties an account, that is obviously covered by for checking account’s fraud protection provisions.

    Lastly, I trust Mint’s data security and encryption much more than I trust the limited security on my home computer. If someone wants your info, there are easier ways to get it.

  12. Anonymous

    Right now I’m using a manual spreadsheet which I created. I only have a handful of accounts to manage and I’ve had some trouble with identity theft so I am trying to reduce my exposure. For that reason I’ll pass on Mint.

    My spreadsheet is very thorough and I’ve built in a cashflow projection. I have 2 columns for each month, labeled “expected” and “actual”. I have the expected column completed out to the end of 2012, but adding another year is as simple as copying to a new tab and reviewing the figures. The “actual” column is completed as transactions occur and I balance it to my main checking account 3 times a month.

    While this approach is more labor intensive than some of the online tools, I think it gives me a great picture of my finances without exposing any of my information to a website. I have integrated another section which tracks my debts and tells me how much I spent on interest and what my average rate is across all of them.

  13. Anonymous

    I use Buxfer mainly because of this password problem. It has an option to store your username and password on your own computer, and yet you still get the convenience of it downloading your statements for you. It’s worse than sites like Mint only in that you have to press the synchronize button when you go to the website to make sure everything is up-to-date.

    Beyond that, the best thing about it is it’s cashflow projection, which I understand that Mint does as well.

    However, it looks like it’s on shaky ground right now and might be shutdown, which is unfortunate as there are apparently no other sites that share these 2 features.

  14. Anonymous

    I used Thrive for quite a while and loved, loved, loved it. Then it started having a hard time staying linked to my accounts. It seemed like every other time I logged in I’d have to re-add one account or another (sometimes quite a few). And the account adding process was a huge pain in the butt – far worse than with other, similar sites. It pained me to finally do, but I eventually gave up on Thrive.

  15. Anonymous

    @Pete

    If your bank screws up and releases your financial information, they are liable for the loss and, given it was their security system which was compromised, is likely to compensate you for any loss of funds. If Mint loses the password to your bank account, they limit their liability only up to $500–and you’re bank won’t compensate you, because in their eyes you freely released your password to a third party.

    Do you understand?

  16. Anonymous

    @sunny: You’re ignorant because guess what? Even if you don’t use mint.com, your information is on a computer somewhere. From the DMV to your bank account. Everything is on a computer now and they’re all easily compromised.

  17. Anonymous

    People who use mint to track their bank accounts and investments are insane. What happens when their databases are compromised and someone begins emptying customers’ accounts? Do you think your bank or investment company will cover that loss? Do you think Mint will (check their terms of service…)?

  18. Andrew: It’s automated. You have no idea how bad the spam problem is. There’s no way I can manage things manually. The spam filter is supposed to learn, but sometimes it’s slow. Until then, the challenge page is a necessary evil. Sorry.

  19. Anonymous

    same here – love mint! I just started using it at the beginning of January and I already feel like I’m getting a better handle on our financial situation and achieving greater savings simply because I see everything happening each day, all in one place!

  20. Anonymous

    I agree, I also use mint.

    Looking at 1 year of just food expenses… eye opening… on the amount of money souse and I spend on restaurants alone!

    The only issue I have with Mint is that it needs more intelligent filtering and auto-tag rules, like tagging by matching account numbers in the transaction descriptions and what not.

    It also does not handle investment data that well like dividends. (for e-trade accounts).

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