Sunday, June 1, 2008

Online money management

I'm currently digging the Internet for a good, reliable money management online with full functionality on board. What do I need?
  1. Accounts for Savings, Checkings, Credit Cards, Loans (different types of, as well as giving and receiving).
  2. Ability to add transactions manually and sync them later through uploading any popular data format available by the Download function from the banks. Having system download the data automatically would require me to give up the passwords to it, so I am pretty concerned about sense for this function to me.
  3. Split transactions (one transaction split into several categories, like Household and Food, for example). Categories management as well (custom, etc).
  4. Schedule transactions and payments by loan, making sure that loan payments are also coming as a split transaction, separating the body of credit and interest.
  5. Reports, not much of them, mostly Where did I spend my money during period of time?
  6. Budgets, both monitoring and planning. Different budget templates are also a plus.
  7. Adding accounts manually, but not only those that's got Internet access.
  8. Notifications by e-mail and export to Calendar.
  9. Import Quicken data would be a huge plus, I'll be moving from Mac Quicken.
I'm not stuck to free solutions, I'd be happy to pay for a reliable one. However, it sounds like it's too much for online money management tools that are on the market today. ;)

As for now, I'm going to give a try to,,,,, and I liked the concept of helpful guidance and tips from, but it's too different from the application that I'm looking for. I'll also try to evaluate against my req's. After my last quick look it seemed to be the only one possible solution.

Wondering, why is it so hard to replicate Quicken for Mac, iBank 3 or Moneydance online? Sounds like an easy thing that can become extremely sticky as soon as you provide million of ways to get connected to it. This is a kind of a thing that can be done in a new way, easier and friendlier, and can rock the market. can't add transactions manually, so it's out of my list. But it was pretty nice though. It's bad that it misses this functionality and it's very basic for me. However, people say that still in beta, so there are chances that they finally will decide to deliver this function. I'd be happy to take a look at it then. looks like it can do everything for me, however, I couldn't pass through linking accounts to it. I couldn't find Bank of America Credit Card there (well, it is in the list, but can't get linked), and I couldn't add an account manually (while it advises me to, it never allows me ;). So, it's out of the list also. has no split transactions, poor account management, no loan accounts, like for a car, or a student loans. No transaction schedule or I didn't find one. I liked it, but still no-go. has no split transactions, account management is manual only, no differentiation on account types (either Checking, or Savings, or Credit card or whatever not), transactions management is pretty weird. It's mostly like an application to monitor your upcoming expenses and incomes and keep the balance. It gives you a bigger picture, but not your day-to-day tool. Not the one that I need. looks like the one that really can do everything I need. It's free for basic functionality and extra features cost $2.95/month. Pretty acceptable, however, the interface is very awkward to me. I'm coming from Mac Quicken, so I was looking for something similar, at least, in concepts. Well, is close on concept, but very overloaded. Keeping in mind the Web application needs to have fewer steps them the desktop one (just because it's Web and every step doesn't have the same response time as on desktop application), the is too much overcomplexified. But I think it'll become pretty useful as soon as you get used to it. Two things I do not like about it. First, it doesn't seems very reliable and I don't know what is the future of it (it looks like a very minor player on the market). Second, I didn't like to get to know that it's advertised on For Sale By Publisher here. This might be a business model, but doesn't sound like a very solid one.

mvelopes. This one is very expensive comparing to all other choices. It has got three plan.
  1. 2-Year Plan is $189.60, charged every two years and equals to $7.90/month,
  2. 1-Year Plan is $129.60, charged annually and equals to $10.80/month,
  3. Quarterly Plan is $39.60 and equals to $13.20/month.
All these options sound pretty expensive. But I decided still give it a try using the free 30-days trial. First thing that smelled bad was the termination policy.
Please note, due to security reasons, requests for cancellation can only be processed by chatting directly with a Customer Service Representative. As such, cancellation requests transmitted to us by any other means (e.g. email, voicemail, etc.) will not be honored.
This means that they will try to feed me to their sales people before they will let me go. I hate that. But let's go ahead. In overall picture, mvelopes looks like a pretty solid product with a lot of functionality.

However there is one thing that makes it pretty tough for me. Originally, it's not intuitive transaction-based budget system. They are starting from the side of spending categories, called envelopes there. They don't care about your transactions (actually, they do, but don't make it straight-forwarded), but they do care about how much did you spend on each category.

I should say that their budgeting system is pretty nice and one of the best that I saw ever (even in the desktop applications). However, I need to be able to easier see the direct connection between my every single transaction and spending categories. I want to apply budgets to my actual actions, but not to adjust my actions to the budget fields.

Well, you can get used to it though. Once their concept is in your head, you're cool. However, they don't have schedules (or I didn't find them). If there are schedules, they did the great job to hide them very well. Otherwise, it's even more surprising how they did such a solid system and have no schedules there. To my understanding, schedule of transactions is a very important tool to proper funds management.

Overall I liked the mvelopes the most, however, they miss the schedule and they are pretty expensive. They deliver a nice set of functionality though. I'll keep them in mind, however, their "envelope" concept is an awkward for me. I also need to see how easily they will let me go out of the trial. ;) looks nice and very simple. It has no loan type of accounts though. And interface is not very good. Its dashboard could be more effective and much more informative. Not that "linked", mostly manual tool. I liked it minimalism, but I hated it at the same time. Overall, it's a nice free tool, has Google and Mac OS dashboard widgets, some AJAX in a appropriate places, but can't make me stick to it.

Originally, Quicken Online sounded like a good choice, but it misses split transactions. A no-go for me, I have too many split transactions, to keep everything in order. They also miss budgets. Very important for me, almost no-go. The reports are very weak. Not a big deal for me, they have some other way for building charts, besides, this is not actually something that I'd really miss. One of the most important things is that there are too many complains in their forum for paying for incomplete product. Not a good sign.

buxfer makes me feel a little bit dumb with all its tags. It's also not very "automatic", so relies a lot of manual processing. The splitting of transactions is very weird process. It looks like it was done just check the box in the feature list, but nobody thought about people who'll be using it. As I already said, tags, words, groups: all these are very confusing jargon. I would prefer to stick to common sense ones or to be clear on the correct usage.

P.S. I'll try to keep my requirements list updated as soon as I'll recall more features that I depend on. ;)

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