ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Do you know where your money is going?

Updated on June 16, 2010

“Yogi” Berra once said “If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there” and that's true of anything in life, be it saving for your first car, buying your first house or planning your retirement.

Lao Tzu said 千里之行, 始于足下 though thankfully later it was translated to “A journey of a thousand miles begins at your feet” and when you’re setting out to actually get a handle on your finances that is equally important as knowing where you are going and how far you have got to travel to get there.

Luckily there are some services that are available to give you a good overview of your current financial situation – how much you owe, what money you have, and, sometimes most importantly, where it’s going. They link to your existing accounts and analyze your transactions to plot your spending and track your income.

The three biggest players this area are Mint, Yodlee and Buxfer and they all have unique features which may be right for you – though there’s no reason not to use all three I’ve chosen to focus on one for the time being though time will tell if they continue to evolve to close the gap. Many banks also offer similar services (free, or for a fee) but as I value independence as part of this process I’ve not done much beyond have a quick look at what my banks offered (and it’s actually very similar … and I suspect the reason for that will become clear as you read on)

Yodlee

Yodlee is the grand-daddy of the bunch and actually provide the secure communications with banks and financial institutions behind the scenes for the other services and banks described here. As well as giving you a birds eye view of your accounts Yodlee (with your permission of course) can be used to initiate transactions on your behalf (eg make regular loan payments or schedule and pay utility bills). Their analysis and reporting is no frills and, as it’s not their core business, may appear a little less flashy than their counterparts though is is very capable.

Mint

Mint, now owned by Intuit (best known for their accounting product Quicken) has the most comprehensive reporting and analysis tools of all three and once you’ve started to categorize your income and spending it helps you pinpoint areas to improve very quickly.

Since their acquisition and a period of considerable growth there have been some grumbles in the user forums that their support is not as responsive as it used to be and that the roll out of new features has slowed down – the counter to this is that they are working on an integration with their Quicken Online product to bring the best of both to all their users… hopefully an integration that will bear fruit soon.

The one feature I would like to see with Mint is an intelligent prediction of cashflow – income and bills – to give me plenty of warning if I’ll need to move money around to pay at least my regular bills.

Buxfer

Buxfer is the newest of the three and still the smallest, but growing steadily has a very personal feel to it. A lot of that comes from their unique feature which is tracking IOUs between friends but also their very open login scheme – rather than create an account with them and use that to login you can associate them with many existing logins so there’s one less password to remember. Buxfer also have the widest selection of mobile interfaces at the moment which is good to consider if you need up-to-date info on the go (for instance if you don’t have regular access to a computer). They also support optional offline storage of data (using HTML5 features in Safari and Firefox, or Google Gears) which may be a bonus or a security risk depending on how safe your machine is.

eWise

I also have to give a shout out to eWise – this awesome Australian company have built an amazing platform that provides a similar service but not limited to any one country… I use them to track accounts in 4 countries and while they don’t offer the same level of planning and analysis that the others here do they to act as a one-stop login portal (with your passwords securely encrypted on a flash drive or memory stick). For end users the application is free, and they provide commercial services if you are a bank, credit union or ISP and what to extend your customer offering.

Homework

If you’ve not already signed up for one of these services – Buxfer, Mint or Yodlee, or via your current bank – you should. Getting a clear picture where my money was going each month – and enforcing the rigor of actually classifying each transaction – is a really good starting point.

Simply by doing this I was able to identify some simple ways to cut back on our monthly expenditure immediately and start to get an idea where we needed to look to have the most impact going forward

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)