What is the best program or website to organize and track personal finances? And are they safe?
Below I compare three big names in financial organization: MyJibe, Mint, and Quicken. The following programs meet or surpass the encryption levels that banks are required to use, which are considered sufficient to protect your personal financial data. Perhaps one of these options works for you. Disclosure: I am a Mint user.
MyJibe.com is a web-based budgeting system that uses virtual envelopes to separate money for $8/month (try it first with a 10-day free trial). After you deposit your income, fixed expenses like rent and utilities are separated to keep you from spending that money and to allow you to see how much you have for other things. You can add other accounts and import info from your bank, Quicken, and Microsoft Money (which has been discontinued). MyJibe tracks your income, fixed, and flexible expenses, and savings goals.
What is different about MyJibe is that you can get real-time financial advice from your financial planner as long as s/he is a MyJibe sponsor.
I use Mint because it’s free. What I like about the site is its free smartphone application because I can track my account when I’m on the go. You can also set up your account to receive weekly updates on all accounts and alert messages when you are running low on cash or a bill is coming up. This web-based budgeting system is similar to MyJibe because it tracks all your accounts and investments. It helps you create a budget by comparing your spending habits that you can customize. Just recently, you can set up savings goals like a vacation or college.
Because Mint is free, expect to be see a lot of credit card referrals (this is how they make their money). On the Ways to Save tab, Mint suggests switching to another bank or credit card to save money. Mint and Quicken are from the Inuit company.
Quicken is software that you install on your computer that costs $49.99 to $149.99. Your computer must meet system requirements to download Quicken (PC and Mac versions). Basically, this software allows you to manage your money by creating a custom budget. It let’s you track transactions and investments, and tracks your bills. Quicken software has several versions and not all versions have the same features so shop around to find the one best suited for you. For example, if you want to track investments, Quicken Premier is the best option because it tracks and analyzes your investment performance. Online features like downloading your transactions and balances, online bill pay, and live support are only available for the current version and the two prior versions. When it is time to upgrade from Quicken 2011 to Quicken 2012, you’ll have to pay for the latest version.
The cheapest option is Mint – it is free! Mint has most of the features of MyJibe and Quicken, including gathering all your accounts in one place, categorizing transactions, and tracking investments and goals. For other free options, check your bank as many are beginning to offer similar financial budgeting as part of their online features. Bank of America, for example, has a My Portfolio tab that can track your accounts including those not from BofA. If you want other budgeting options, check out Bargain Babe’s suggestions. And to learn about the most important parts of budgeting, check out Bobbi’s post on the subject.
What personal finance budgeting system suits you? Are you using online budgeting systems or prefer a pen and paper instead?