A Review of Five Financial Software for Kids

Letting your kids use financial software is quite beneficial as this will help them learn valuable skills such as wise use of money and budgeting. There is a wide range of financial software for kids in the market today giving you a variety of choices for your kids. Here is a look at five of the most popular in the market.

Kids Save Software

With Kids Save, your child will learn to monitor money through rewards incentives and helps them establish and track their goals. This program will help your child make deposits ad withdrawals using automated allowance and rewards system. The software will allow let them to see their statement of account.

The advantage of the program is that it automatically manages your child’s account once it has been set up. However, you as the Banker, can be granted access to the accounts, and configure interest, allowance, and/or matching funds. You also have the power to lock the savings and confirm all transactions.

By letting your kids see the changes and growth in their account; your child will realize the impact of different variables on their savings and understand the prospect of their account growing. Using the wizard Bubbles, your kid can learn to establish a personal financial goal and aim to reach that goal
Planet Orange

Planet Orange is a fun and interactive financial software for teaching kids in the Grade 1 to 6 level skills such as earning, saving, spending, and investing. Using the concept of outer space, the program will take the kids important financial skills such as valuing money, budget setting, building a future savings goal.

Planet Orange utilizes four continents representing different financial aspects. In a place called Pulpy Pete’s General Store, your child will learn the skill of spending their money wisely. The game will train kids to buy only what is essential compared to buying everything they want within the allocated budget. After each area, your kids will take a quiz where they will receive Space Badges and complete their mission.

Penguin Cold Cash

Another interactive game that will teach the value of money, Penguin Cold Cash will have your kids surf through icebergs as a penguin. The aim of the game is to identify coins and bills, score over a hockey goalie each time they get a change, catch a fish while counting their money.

In Penguin Cold Cash, your kids will go through several skill levels and six interactive events. They will be using realistic money amounting one penny to one hundred dollars. Kids will also learn how to compare various dollar amounts while on a treadmill, determine money equivalents while performing belly sledding, and spend the smallest amount of coins and bills possible while whale tubing.  Another game will have kids guessing the opposite side of the 50 State Quarters.

My Budget Planner

My Budget Planner is financial software for kids that will teach them wise money management by teaching them how to note every dollar and cent they receive using the software. With the program, kids will also learn how to set a simple budget and make a bank transaction.

Money management skill is learned when they have determined their total expenses as well as the amount left to spend. A valuable trait they will learn from using My Budget Planner is learning to give to the needy or charitable institutions.

Your kids will surely become enticed with the colorful buttons representing the different months of the year. They will learn about the description of money by looking at the pictures. Kids will receive a monthly statement. At the end of it all, your child will acquire budgeting skills.

Family Mint Software

Designed by the National Financial Educators’ Council (NFEC), the Family Mint Software is designed to provide kids with a fun and interactive way to teaching them money management skills. The award-winning program is set to train kids and even teenagers with valuable skills in personal finance.

With the Family Mint finance education software, parents will also learn important skills so they can help their children handle their money well. Using online money, the child will gain a positive approach to handling their finances while providing parents a guide to helping their kids achieve their goal despite their minimal effort.

The aim of the software is to help kids become responsible adults as far as making the right financial decision is concerned. It will give them the necessary learning skills to enable your child have a worthwhile experience while gaining the necessary skills to keep them from committing serious mistakes that may dampen their future.

At their very young age, kids already have the opportunity to spend money. They are already given an ATM card. If not taught properly, these kids could end up bankrupt before they even reach college. These five finance education software can provide kids with the necessary skills they need for proper money management.

And, when you are a kid no more, here’s an article about getting your first paycheck and starting your first investment.

Mvelopes Online Budgeting Software Review – Is it for you?

According to the name, this is budgeting software that will help its users to manage their money better. With Mvelopes, you can set money aside for every need you have and track all your expenses. This will help you a lot with spending and saving in the future. Mvelopes is an application that will track all kinds of accounts; mortgage accounts, personal accounts, business accounts, retirement accounts and even investment accounts.

Anyone who wants to keep a strict budget and look at every aspect of their spending should make use of this software. For those who have a very simple budget that can be tracked with pen and paper, this may not be your kind of thing. However, those whose accounts are many needs to make use of this application as it can be hard to keep tabs on all of them to ensure that you are afloat.

The pros of Mvelopes online budgeting softwarr

This is a budgeting application that will allow you to put all your finances on point. In other words, while it can be complicated to have several different accounts and manage them using pen and paper, you can manage it using Mvelopes and have everything organized and neat. It can be complicated to have many people in a household and have everyone spending money here and there. It can be hard to track expenditures and still be there for your family and boss and all your other commitments.

  • Mvelopes has the advantage of being supported by major financial institutions, so you cannot have any problems linking up with all of these and getting any financial information you may need.
  • With Mvelopes, you can control your spending and save a lot of money than if you were saving by tracking all your spending otherwise.  If you are not sure, you need to try this application first before you dismiss it.
  • Mvelopes has the advantage of being online, meaning you can access your account from wherever you may be.  So long as you have a password, you only have to have internet access. Those who have mobile phones can access their information from these phones as well.
  •  This site offers a Bill Pay service which is a fantastic budgeting option for you. With this, you can literally pay all your bills and be able to track all your payments. This will save you a lot of time and money.
  • Setting up an account with Mvelopes is very fast and very easy, you do not need to be an expert in anything. The only thing you need is the basics of using the internet.
  •  Mvelopes comes with a net worth tracking tool. This tool is exactly what it is…it will tell you how much you are worth at a certain place and time. You will know where you are financially at a certain point.  Naturally, your assets should be more than your liabilities. You should then know how far you will go financially depending on the steps you want to take.
  •  For many users of this application, it has given them a wakeup call on financial issues. It is important to be able to plan and make moves accordingly; trying to make sure that you are on the right track financially.
  • You can make use of Mvelopes for its portability; this is because you can use it on your Smartphone. There are applications for entering expenses, editing transaction and reviewing balance. These applications will allow you to take photos of important documents and attach them to any transactions.

The cost of Mvelopes

For anyone who has a lot of expenses to track, this will be the best investment you will make. Mvelopes has great features and it is cost-effective. There are three plans which you can use to get access to the Mvelopes application. First, you can get a three months plan for which you will spend $40. This is perfect if you do not plan to spend so much time making use of it. In essence, if you just want to try it out, make use of this plan.

If you want to stay with Mvelopes for longer than three months, try out the $130 plan or the two year plan for $190. It is cheaper to buy the two year package than the one year package. With Mvelopes you will be able to save a lot of money, if you are the kind of person who can’t seem to keep tabs on your expenses; this is the kind of application to use.

Downside of Mvelops

There are two downsides with Mvelopes that we could found in their free version

first, it does not seem to work well with other currencies, which can be very difficult especially if you have earnings/expenditure in two different currencies. It can never distinguish between the currencies.

Second, while it has some degree of data import capability, it doesn’t support many personal finance software or other online applications. You may have a hard time having to do this physically, and if you have a lot to import, it will take a long time.

Verdict on Mvelops

You can right away start using Mvelops free version (app or online software). Once you get familiarized with it and if it fits your bill, you can opt for paid version. We are recommending the software for your own good. You may have to pay a monthly fee, but, it can save 100s of dollars for you in long-term.

If you think the software is not for you, you can discard it anyway, without opting for subscription version. Either case, evaluate the free version first before putting any money on it.

Zecco Trading Review – Online Stock Brokers that are not Zero Cost Any More

I use two brokers for my personal need before I tried Zecco. MB Trading platform and Merill Lynch which came along with my Bank of America Checking account as an additional benefit. I would say it was probably only boon for me from the stock market collapse of 2008. You may want to read my earlier review of MB Trading, which I found one of the very best in business.

I have been using Zecco just for the sake of comparison. As MB Trading started a recent no-activity fee which is irritating to me. Now I do think I would switch to Zecco from MB Trading. Here’s what I found from the discount online brokers, Zecco.

Zecco trading Platform Review

Zecco is an online stock broker. This company has offices in San Francisco, California, Glendale. Word ZECCO means “zero cost commission” trading. This company is operating since July, 2006. However since March 2011 this company is no longer providing free stock trading to its customers. Zecco provides stock, option, mutual fund, bond trading, spot foreign exchange trading service, spot gold, spot silver trading services to its customers.

How To Set Up Account For ZECCO

It is an easy three step process to sign up for Zecco which takes hardly 10-15 minutes to set up an account. Firstly you will need to pay signup fee via wire transfer, paper chec or through ACH transfer from your bank account etc ways.  Also you will need to fill all your information including your social security number. Then after 2-3 days you will get your ready to trade account. 2 to 3 days are required for transferring funds. For me it took almost 6 days as there was a week end in between. I remember I had to wait for 15 days for Merill Lynch account to be active and tradable.
Zecco Trading

Fees and Commissions on Trading

  • For Stocks: – they charge $ 4.95 for each trading. also if you trade on equities which are equal to $ 1.00 or less then charges for this trading are 6.95$  per trade. 4.95 $  is way too less than what its competitor companies are currently charging for each transaction.
  • Options: – they charge 4.95$ for each trade and additional 0.65$  for each contract. This is very beneficial if the contacts are very less. But if you are taking large number of contracts then this becomes very costly.  If this trading is broker assisted then you will be  charged $ 19.99 plus charges on each contract is 0.75 $
  • Broker assisted trades are 19.99 $
  • Zecco provides super cheap price structure also it is very easy to understand this structure.
  • Forex spreads are 0.7 pips for major pairs.
  • Margin rate is 4.5%
  •  You can purchase or sell no-load mutual funds via Zecco. If this transaction is internet based then you are charges $ 10 per transaction.
  • Treasury transaction fee is $ 24.50 per transaction.
  • Bond transaction fee is $ 4.50 per transaction.  But the minimum transaction amount is $ 22.50.

Investments Offered by Zecco

Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, retirement account education savings accounts, spot gold and spot silver. They are now offering Forex trades too. I am inclined towards Forex trades these days.

Trading or Investment Tools

Trading platform offered by Zecco is very basic. Yet they have decent tools for trading complex options. They have tool for identifying potential investment and to analyze them. Also you get tool for trading and to monitor your portfolio.

As a trading help, they do provide free real time quotes, charts and graphs (which MB trading charges fees for) . Also research report is provided to you by standard and poor. In addition to this if you are newbie in the trading field and if you need any guidance on trading, there’s a help for you in form of Zecco’s investor education tool. Also they provide educational videos. Though I found the videos very basic.

Zecco provides descent customer support. You can contact their customer service via email or phone or through online chat. They are trying to establish a trading community – Zeccoshar, where you can share and discuss your issues, opinions and insights with other investors. This his cool feature I think.

When you open an online trading account at Zecco Trading you can also expect:

    • Free stock trading IRA – including Traditional, Roth and Rollover IRAs
    • Superior trade execution with industry leading trading platform
    • Friendly customer service 5 days a week
    • Free membership to vibrant financial community of online investors at zecco.com

Apply Now!

Awards won by Zecco

  • Zecco has won 3 stars in customer service providing in the year 2009. This award was given to Zecco by SmartMoney.
  • Also zeco has got 3 stars in the same year 2009 by Barrons Review.
  • Though they have won only these awards this company has potential to add more awards to their hall of fame

Verdict on Zecco brokerage account

Pros:

  • Very low commission on trading stocks ( 4.95 $)
  • Active social networking community to share and discuss your problems with other traders.
  • Free 24×7 online or offline support.
  • Free streaming data.
  • Free dividend reinvestment.
  • No surcharges for large orders.
  • You can open account with Zecco with no money down.
  • No account minimum, maintenance or deactivation fees.

Cons:

  • There are no II level quotes.
  • There is no online mobile trading access for massively used Blackberry or android phones.
  • Performance reporting and tax planning services are not free.
  • Surcharges of $2 on trad of penny stock.
  • Annual IRA fee is $30.
  • Extra hour traders have to pay surcharge of $0.005 per share on applicable commission

Conclusion

If you have good experience in trading and if you are looking for low cost and solid service provider, then Zecco is the one of the best options available for you. Trading Education tools are just OK and there are no extra ordinary material there but, still sometimes they are useful for many.  Additionally online social community is the best thing for traders. So overall Zecco is good for experienced people and they should open an account with Zecco. But if you are looking for intensive research performed on stocks then Zecco may not be the best option for you.

Zecco Trading

Readers, what are your opinions about Zecco? Are you satisfied?

Chaikin Portfolio Health Check Review

How many of you get excited by seeing past 52 week low and high and think of buying at next low? We even calculate the hypothetical gain we would have made had we bought at the bottom and sold at the peak. Alas, that is not possible for any one. As tricky as winning a lottery. We always know the past, we have no way to know future.

Chaikin Portfolio Health Check is a subscription service invented by stock market expert Marc Chaikin and his firm with an aim to tell future. While writing this review, I haven’t had enough time to judge the accuracy of this fortune telling. The concept and ease of use are what I am satisfied about.

Basically Health Check is a weekly personalized stock prediction analysis. Brokers and analyst do this task even today. But, their work is oriented towards an industry sector or a particular stock. Chaikin brought a nice twist by personalizing recommendation as per your portfolio. If you own AAPL (Apple) and don’t own F (Ford Motors), then you’ll only see prediction for AAPL and not of F.

These predictions are also presented in a layman friendly way, where red symbol means bearish and green means bullish, Yellow neutral. You will easily seek which direction your stocks are headed in next 3-6 months.

How Chaikin Health Check works

Easy enrollment procedure. Credit card is required to sign up but, you’ll not be charged if you cancel immediately or within first 7 days after getting your first health check report. Just what I did. You need to go through a process of inputting all your stock holdings in the screen. I really wish they had automatic pull from broker functionality. That is the only cumbersome process, rest is smooth.

The report is easy to read and use. Starts with declaring overall health of your portfolio, with some warnings about possible troubles ahead. I found the report well organized and clear in tone.

Chaikin Portfolio Health Check is the only analysis that shows you where your stock portfolio is headed in the next 3-6 months—a virtual watchdog that helps you act on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Insights once available only to professionals are now yours in a concise, weekly report.

Chaikin Portfolio Health Check has been featured on Fox Business News. See the video here: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1711248624001/how-to-give-your-portfolio-a-check-up and was recently reviewed by Barron’s, see: http://www.chaikinpowertools.com/downloads/barrons-chaikin-article-6-30-12.pdf

Salient features of Chaikin Portfolio Health Check

  • A watchdog for your stock portfolio, helping you spot and act on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
  • Tells you weekly if you are positioned for success over the next 3-6 months
  • Gives you specific ideas for swapping weak stocks and industry groups for strong ones
  • Uses powerful analytics once available only to Wall Street professionals to guide you
  • Clear graphics let you review and understand the report in  minutes
  • Shows how you’re doing compared to the S&P 500 and Chaikin Community
  • Based on the proven Chaikin Power Gauge Rating
  • Quickly recognize trouble spots and opportunities on the Chaikin Power Grid—where stocks and industry groups are mapped out in quadrants, green-for-bullish, red-for-bearish

To get your first Portfolio Health Check free visit: http://www.portfoliohealthcheck.com

I am not an active trader so, this tool is of no use to me going forward. I don’t want to pay a monthly fee. If you are one such active trader this tool is one of a kind. Other similar/cheaper personalized prediction tool may come in future but, till then this can be helpful for you.

With a disclaimer that I didn’t review the accuracy of its stock prediction. You may benefit with the stock swaps and other recommendations that comes with your weekly report.

Mint.com Personal Finance Tool, Must for Minting Money

Mint.com is a web based financial tool that helps you put your budget in order. It consolidates all your financial data in one place, and is equipped with simple and powerful features like simple alerts for bills or payments and goal-oriented accounting that even charts your progress towards a financial objective.

When used in conjunction with your credit cards, Mint.com can even advice you on which card to use in exchange for the information of how you use your credit cards, which can lead to either less cost or even savings.

You can use Mint.com for anything financial, from investments, cars and financing, life insurance policies to individual retirement accounts – the financial information from all parts of your life in just one place.

Mint.com first offered its services through an arrangement with Yodlee, but in November of 2009, Intuit acquired the whole of Mint.com, adding the website, its services and information to the long list of free and paid financial services software that Intuit has under its wing.

Honestly, mint.com still lacks Yodlee in terms of range of financial institution covered (Yodlee money center review) and the security of your private financial data.

Mint.com still by far the best personal finance software in terms of wide range of services provided. And the look-n-feel of the website is better than others, hands down. I opened an account with mint.com for the purpose of reviewing this product. I am a still a die-hard Yodlee fan.

Mint.com, the Software

Mint.com offered smooth and fast sign up, and add accounts processes. I picked many accounts, banking (checking, saving, credit cards, auto loan loan, stock broker, mutual funds. All accounts seamlessly downloaded my online data.

In-fact the data is fetched every day (for few account, multiple times a day) from financial institutions to keep your accounts updated automatically.

Mint.com failed to add a few of my accounts in India, its a clear disadvantage for me.

Other than that, it does what it claims to do, and does it efficiently and cleanly, and that is always a great thing when your financial health is the subject.

If at any time or occasion in your Internet browsing, you feel that the information you are giving is more private than necessary, make it a habit to read the Terms of Service or ToS, privacy and legal notices of the website. Even if it is software from Intuit, and it is Mint.com, the habit is safer than forgetting.

While the financial software functions as a secretary, bookkeeper and adviser, Mint.com is in no way replacing those services with theirs. At the very most, the analyses that Mint.com can make of your financial data you can consider as options, and not financial opinions or advice.

More information such as this you can find in the Terms of Service, because while it is always faster to just click the “I Agree” button on the Internet, it is not always wiser to do so.

Mint.com, the Features

The one great thing about Mint.com is that you get to collect and see all your financial data in one place. Mint.com has taken the effort of being able to draw the your information from banks for you – a highly sensitive transaction, to be sure – and safely summarize all that information for your convenience.

That in itself is enough reason to use Mint.com. Your financial data is scattered all over your life, from the banks that you have accounts with, to lending institutions if you or your business constantly deals with credit, your amortizations, insurance premiums and mortgages, and Mint.com rolls it all up for you into one single summary. Imagine the effort of looking up one utility bill from the provider’s website, then to dedicate a single bank account just for that bill, and multiply that process into all your financial transactions. Mint.com takes care of that process for you for all your transactions.

And your finances are summarized to the point of letting you even explore your options, savings and financial objectives. When all that information is gathered, you are more able to plan ahead of your finances, instead of just trying to keep up with the daily grind – something like keeping your head above water.

And just with these two features, Mint.com is useful enough to be advised for users who feel the need for more organization in their finances, and individuals who have organize their finances to the point of looking ahead.

Mint.com, the Service

The service that Mint.com provides is inextricably tied up to your privacy. The amount of information you release, give and allow access to Mint.com is enormous, and enormously sensitive. The natural reaction is always caution – precautions should be taken every time you log on to Mint.com, because as responsible a service Mint.com offers, the total security of your information is only as good as its weakest link.

With regards to Mint.com’s security, the security is perhaps more than bank grade high level security. The weakest link in the security chain will most probably not come from Mint.com’s servers but from your end of the transactions – a desktop computer left unsecured at home is easier to break into than the data center of Mint.com, whose location is, of course, secret.

Besides, while it is natural to place the importance of your private information above all others, the real value of your private information is when it is alongside the numerous other users of Mint.com. When taken as a whole, the financial information is priceless – analyses from trends, ratios, financial relationships and decisions from all that data are worth far more than any individual account, or the monies in that individual’s account.

What should be of concern is how that information is being used today, and not if some ingenious hacker manages to steal all that information. So the real question is not if you should trust Mint.com with all your private financial information, but if you trust how Intuit uses the sum of all that private information at their fingertips.

Unlike Yodlee, who makes money by providing it’s services to big banks and credit card companies, Mint.com is more retail focused and makes money by selling you various financial products they off on their site and apps.

Keeping individual demands in mind, their webpage design and mobile app design is very attractive, but security is still questionable.

Overall, we are giving Mint.com a “Must use” rating. This software can make and break your finances, but, do check out Yodlee money center as well. you may find Yodlee more useful than mint.com, as did I.

Whatever be your choice, a tool like mint.com or Yodlee makes managing money easier and gives you a complete picture of your financial health. Either of these two products is a must use personal finance product according to us. More over, they both are free to use!

Credit Karma Review, How Reliable is Credit karma?

Debt usage determines 30% of your credit score. The better you handle your debts, the better your credit score comes out. This is the goal of Credit Karma, a company based in San Francisco, that offers free credit scores for its consumers. The information from credit scores can guide Credit Karma users into better credit health by monitoring the effects of their financial decisions on their credit scores when the change happens, and adjust their actions accordingly.

To write Credit karma review, I signed up for their account. The process is extremely smooth. yes, there is a risk involved when you give out your social security number to a third-party who’ll store it in their database.

I couldn’t find any info on net about this score being stored in encrypted form, though I like it stored that way. Hackers can virtually crack any company database. When they get access to  it, they would definitely try to sell it to scamsters and fraudsters. Who is turn would at least try to steal your identity.

I took a risk just to write credit karma review. To check how reliable is their service offering. The same way I did for Credit Sesame Review.

The Free Credit Score from Credit Karma

Credit Karma computes your TransRisk credit score from information from TransUnion, the TransUnion Auto Insurance Risk Score, and the Vantage Score. This service Credit Karma gives for free – so you can see the updated credit score at any given period.

The TransUnion figure is the degree of possibility that you will be delinquent in your loans, or be unable to pay the complete debt at all. This data is based on historical trends and what you as a lender, has behaved with your debts. Upon signing up with Credit Karma, you will be able to see your history daily, giving you more data on how to behave in the future.

To Credit Karma’s credit and professionalism, the computed credit scores are often close enough to the official FICO scores. Some margin of error is allowed, so the Credit Karma scores may not portray the exact picture – but for a free tool, Credit Karma does fine.

The Terms of Use

Whenever giving your personal credit information, the best precaution is to read the Terms of Service, or in the case of Credit Karma, the Terms of Use of its website, and not rely on any other recommendation from an unrecognized authority on the Internet. You could do much worse by having a lawyer go through the Terms of Use, but your own analysis can suffice.

What is refreshingly appealing with the Credit Karma free service is that Credit Karma does not keep any of your private information. The information you give may be used for further analysis by Credit Karma, such as your credit score history for your TransUnion score, but your private information, Credit Karma does not store on its servers. It is a purely online free service with no grand designs to hold on to your information for other purposes than for you to bring your credit score to better financial  states.

The Business Model

Credit Karma does not earn from your private information. The business model of Credit Karma is to send targeted advertisements in your direction, and from the advertising proceeds, Credit Karma is able to give you the free credit scores.

So look at it this way. The close the Credit Karma estimate is to your FICO credit score, the more often you will return to the Credit Karma website. The more often you go to the website, the more advertisements Credit Karma will send you. And with more targeted advertisements, the more Credit Karma earns, so that even better service can be given to you.

Credit Karma is a performance-based website offering a free service. The better Credit Karma guides you to better financial health, the more it earns. The poorer its service, the less rewards it makes. This arrangement between Credit Karma’s service and revenues is ideal – for certain, no other vested interests can come between you and Credit Karma’s desire to get you to the credit score that you want. Your relationship with Credit Karma is free, the same way Credit Karma offers the service for free, and let the advertising keep

The benefits of Credit karma

You can check your credit score as many times a day as you wish. It’s free to use. There is a simulator which you can play around and simulate hypothetical situation and measure the impact to you credit score.

It clearly demonstrate how paying off your credit card each month increases your credit score. It will also demonstrate how app;lying for a new credit card reduces your score.

We are giving a “Caution” rating on credit karma. apply your own logic before giving them your social security number. It hs a risk of theft as I told in the first section of this post.

End of Microsoft Money 2005, Are You Affected?

The earliest version of Microsoft Money was way back in 1991, under the the Windows operating system version 3.0.

Since then, 17 versions of the financial software have been made. Managing personal finances was easy with the use of graphical interfaces Microsoft products are known for, and the constant support from Microsoft brought users to

Microsoft Money as a preferred tool for managing their investments, portfolios and expenses.

However, last December 31, 2011, Microsoft officially ended supporting Microsoft Money.

In the interim, Microsoft is encouraging all users of Microsoft Money to use Microsoft Money Plus Sunset, an application that can still open, read and edit Microsoft Money 2005 files with no problem.

It can also assist to keep the financial records of users still readable, and perhaps convertible to other formats now that Microsoft Money 2005 has come to the end of the line.

What’s Next for Microsoft Money 2005 Users

While it may be a sad thing for some to say goodbye to a Microsoft product line that lasted 20 years, the good news is that many kinds of software for financial purposes do a much better job than Microsoft Money 2005, with more features as well.

Some programs you have to buy and install on your computer, much like Microsoft Money 2005, and other financial software are already available on the web, and all you need is a decent browser with really good security to access the cloud-based application.

You can try out Quicken – it organizes all sides of your financial identity, from investments, personal and business finances, your properties owned, leased or rented, and even helps you set some financial goals in the process.

Quicken is a program you install on your computer, but Intuit, the company behind Quicken also has a web-based application called Mint.com, where you can do most of what Quicken does, with even more added features.

Mint.com, as the name implies, is on the cloud, so no installation is necessary – just an Internet connection.

Another recommended application is AceMoney – and with this program, you can open your Microsoft Money 2005 files, and continue documenting your financial history without missing a beat.

AceMoney is an installed program, and the good news is that it runs not only on the Windows operating system, but also on Mac OSX and Linux distros.

The Real Issues with Financial Software

The features and the capabilities of financial software is just icing on the cake. The real issues with financial software is how much one can depend on them – your private financial history and decisions have incredibly increased in value in the last decade or so.

Some financial applications make it clear in their Terms of Service that your information will not be saved, stored or used in any other way in the application – on the other hand, some financial software, in order to keep their services free, do keep the information in some way for further analysis or to glean more information in the data set of all users.

Some software are forthright in their intent to sell your information to other parties, and then again, some might not even tell you that they are selling your information.

You are going to miss Microsoft Money 2005, if only for the fact that for the last 5 years or so, you could leave your financial information with a trusted source.

But all good things must end – besides, even Microsoft Money 2005 must have features too old to be applicable today, the same way many situations today cannot be contained in even a useful tool such as Microsoft Money 2005.

Yodlee Money Center Review, a Complete Personal Finance Software

This is a re-post of my Yodlee Money center review at One Cent at a Time.

track my net worth using Yodlee, I track my budget and spending through Yodlee money center. I have also experimented with a few other financial accounting tools like quicken online and mint.com. Here;s why I like Yodlee most.

Why I use Yodlee Money Center?

There are many reasons, for the sake of keeping this post to a readable length, I will just stick to a few.

1. Money Center has been around for over 10 years. Thus, you can definitely count on the products and services they offer. In fact, it’s a lot older than Mint.com, which has just been released around 2009. With old age comes wisdom and we generally tend to trust the old guy.  Because of its long history, they have developed a fine collection of tools for tracking your personal finance information.

2. Big financial institutions use Yodlee money center tool for giving value added service to their customers in terms of portfolio management. Bank Of America, Fidelity and American Express are customers of Yodlee that I know of. There are many more. With big names, come  the best practices. Yodlee goes through yearly mandatory audit control. If Yodlee is hacked many of these companies would be in serious trouble. and, thinking about this makes me feel most secure with Yodlee than any one else.

3. When you use sites like Yodlee, Mint, Thrive or Quicken, you practically hand over your online account access to them. Security naturally, should be your utmost concern. A combination of firewalls, encrypted database storage, intrusion-detection, traffic monitoring, network data protection via SSL, and yearly third-party audits and inspections already makes Yodlee money center service secure enough.

4. Yodlee has widest list of financial accounts. Out of my 20 odd accounts, Yodlee has 19. Mint, on the other hand gave up at 15. I have a bank, a mutual fund and an insurance account in India. Yodlee lists them perfectly. Where as, every other tools fail.

Yodlee Money Center Review

The following section covers the aspects of Money Center in detail.

Signing Up

How long did it take me to sign up? Less than 10 minutes. Money Center secures log-in by asking you to create a username and password. It also requires you to answer three security questions and select an image that will appear every time you log on. There’s the secret phrase and image only you can identify. Hopefully, that lessens phishing. The process, nevertheless, is so easy and convenient, making Yodlee a friendly tool.

Comprehensive dashboard

You might complain about its interface, It was much worse last year, prior to their interface uplift. Personally I don’t care, I am a value person rather than looks person. Value attracts me more than the look. Post interface uplift it looks much better though.

Everything is properly laid out for you. Your net worth, payments, expenses chart of last one month. Last few financial transactions, reminders and alerts.

Money Center Dash Board

 

Linking Account in Yodlee

You can type in the name of your financial institution, select it from a list, or browse the most popular institutions by category; banks, credit card companies, investment loan firms etc. Type in your user ID and password, click Link Account, and you’re set. Almost any type of online account can be linked

  • Real-Estate Accounts (updated automatically)
  • mortgages
  • insurance
  • billers
  • airline and hotel rewards programs
  • even web-mail accounts and online news providers

Right now, the website supports over 10,000 various accounts, from credit cards to investments, banks, and loans. The update is, of course, real time. This ensures all the information found on the website is correct. It has more International accounts support than any of the other competitors mentioned above.

Once within 24 hours all your linked accounts gets updated with data pull from the individual accounts. You can update your data on-demand as well.

Budgeting with Yodlee

If you find it difficult to create and control your budget, then most definitely this is the tool that you’ve been looking for. Yodlee allows you to not only develop a budget but also save some cash. You can create a savings goal, as well as compare both your actual spending and budget.

You can view your spending by category for the current month and view your spending patterns over the past six months. After reviewing your spending, you can set budget goals and enable budget alerts. Budget goals can be set for individual categories and/or for total income, expenses, and transfers.

The Set Budget Goals page also displays your monthly total spending against your monthly total income. You can receive alerts when you approach an established budget threshold for a specific category and receive weekly or monthly budget status reports.

You can choose to receive budget status reports weekly and/or monthly. Budget status reports contain the amount you have spent in each category compared to your budget target for all “included” categories.

You can also choose to be notified when the total amount spent/earned in any category comes within a particular percentage or threshold of your desired budget goal.

Note: Yodlee Money center stores all financial account data for last 12 months.

Honestly, I haven’t been using their budget tool much. For us the thing that work best is setting aside 50% of income as soon as they hit checking account. We spend rest 50% freely without thinking much about budget. Even with some unexpected expenses, we never went out of money and trapped into saving yet.

You can share some accounts

This is one of the things I love about Yodlee Money Center. You can share some of your financial information to key people, such as your wife and tax accountant. It definitely reduces plenty of calls and e-mails, as well as promotes better collaboration and communication.  Again, I haven’t shared my accounts with anyone yet. I show Yodlee to my wife when we are sitting together on the couch. Didn’t really have to share with her. although I am open to it.

You can view your spending report

Do you want to make yourself feel guilty about that luxurious shopping spree? The Expense Analysis Chart report provides a pie chart and a tabular representation of your expenses broken down by category.

Yodlee Money Center Spending Chart

The Cash Flow Analysis Chart report provides a graphic representation of your income versus expenses over a specified period.

Basically, the spending report section is very useful for your research in to your spending habit. You should get enough inspiration by looking at the past mistakes you made.

Net Worth statement

I diligently track the progress of my net worth, at least once a month. It is the total of all your assets linked to your Yodlee account, min us all the liabilities listed there. Refer to this article about how I track my net worth using Yodlee.

Portfolio manager

It tracks your investment portfolio including individual stocks, funds, treasuries and CDs. Various reports can be generated from portfolio manager including reporting by asset class, market, performance etc. I don’t really use this feature as Fidelity, Merrill Lynch and T. Rowe price have better analysis tools than what Yodlee has. But I need to logon to each of them individually.

I sincerely hope that Yodlee put some more focus on developing better portfolio management tool.

Hopefully, you don’t miss out on your bills

As I’ve always mentioned, paying bills shouldn’t be so stressful. You can just automate as many of them as possible, and you can surely free yourself from the burden of paying. Nevertheless, even the mere act of paying online or through your phone gets out of your mind once in a while.

Simply put, it’s still very important to be notified when it’s time to settle your dues. Fortunately, Yodlee lets you do that and, you can already set up bill reminders. The bill pay section also has a graphical calendar that illustrates when financial events (such as bill payments) occur in a month.

I won’t say Yodlee should be your main choice as tracking tool. However, based on experience, I don’t think you’ll regret this either.

You may get lost in Yodlee, till date I haven’t gone over all the features/pages. Each time I log in, I find something new, something more interesting in Money Center. You may need a lot of clicks to even add a new account. Money center is a data mine. Although you can customize the data any way you want, still Mint or quicken do provide better ease through their simplicity. Yodlee tried answering these long known gaps in their upgrade (still in beta!).

As a new Yodlee user, you may get lost within reports and charts, thank god, they have ‘help’ feature in every page now. I’d recommend Yodlee Money Center for people who are more concerned with quality, safety and security than with  site’s ease of use or look-and-feel. While mint.com is a compact camera, Yodlee is a grand SLR which only operates in manual mode.

Disclaimer: All opinion expressed above is my personal opinion, and written purely for entertainment purpose. I haven’t received any monetary compensation for this article. Yodlee.com is no way responsible for any content written above. For more information, refer to disclaimer page.
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