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Manage Bills and Accounts - The Best Free Personal Finance Software: Mint vs. Buxfer

Updated on March 12, 2011

Choosing a Free Online Budgeting Program

There are four primary online budgeting software programs: Mint, Buxfer, Thrive, and Wesabe. Of the four programs, Mint and Buxfer offer the greatest variety of features, including budget limits, bill payment schedule monitoring, and a breakdown of monthly spending into easy-to-read pie charts. There are a few critical differences between Mint and Buxfer, however, and the most appropriate program may vary depending on an individual's personal financial profile. How do the two programs compare, and are they safe?

Mint vs. Buxfer Overview

Attributes
Mint
Buxfer
Monitor shared expenses
No
Yes
Personal Financial Information Storage
Uses own servers
Google Gears
Can handle advanced accounts (401k)
Yes
No
Handles many account types
Yes
No
Buxfer Screenshot
Buxfer Screenshot
Mint Screenshot
Mint Screenshot

Making the Decision

Buxfer offers several unique features, including the ability to set up a system to monitor shared expenses. For several roommates sharing an apartment, having a program automatically tabulate the amount due per person is a wonderful tool. Buxfer will send out email reminders for the exact amount due to each individual with a shared expense, removing confrontation and misunderstandings between friends. In addition, Buxfer offers unparalleled security. All personal financial information is stored on Google Gears, a well-known and secure network. Short message service (SMS) transactions via mobile devices are also monitored on a Buxfer account.

Unfortunately, Buxfer will not automatically track "advanced accounts," like 401(k) accounts or other investments. In addition, some account types may not be handled by the Buxfer system, which makes consolidating financial information difficult. Advanced account information can be entered manually, but this is time consuming and cumbersome.

Mint will not monitor shared expenses, but it will track advanced accounts, investments, and is able to handle a variety of account types. Consolidating financial information is simple on Mint, giving individuals with large investment portfolio a good snapshot of their current financial situation.

Mint stores personal financial information on its own servers, which increases the security risk. There is no security lockout feature for multiple failed attempts to log into a Mint profile, increasing the risk from hackers. Mint also makes money by referrals from advertising and third parties: the terms of service make it clear that Mint is not responsible for any "type of financial loss, identify theft, etc. as a direct result of Inuit’s site or practices, it’s not their fault, you agree to never hold them accountable, and Intuit will never owe you more than $500 as a result." Mint has put several safeguards into effect, however, and no transactions can be made via the Mint program.

No matter which program is better suited to an individual's financial needs, Mint and Buxfer make excellent budget monitoring tools to keep expenses lower than income. In today's economy, quality, open-source programs like Mint and Buxfer are a great aid in staying afloat during difficult financial times.

Mint.com in Action

Buxfer in Action

Comments

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    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      We're probably going to switch over to Buxfer.. we've been using Mint, but the security issues bother me. We like to track our retirement accounts, but security trumps everything else (in my opinion)!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a great side-by-side comparison - thanks so much for writing it!

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