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Monday, March 9, 2009

Read My Mind – A Review and a chance to win $6,000 …

OK. This post is a follow-up to one I did in February where I reviewed an article found on MSN Money. The article talked about various financial and budgeting sites.

Over the past few weeks I have set up accounts on the first three mentioned.

Mint.com
Geezeo.com
Wesabe.com

Here are my impressions and review of these sites.

I think that I am most impressed with Mint.com simply because it is most like what I am used to from other traditional programs such as Quicken. These apps tie together all your accounts, investments and transactions and not only categorize them but can track them over time.

For a free service, I was definitely impressed with this site. Of course it takes all this good tracking and categorizing to the next logical step where you set budgets and even compares what you currently have and do to, perhaps better deals. This is how they make their money, from sponsors and affiliates. But to their credit, the deals are legit and can definitely help save money and consolidate finances to make them more manageable.
It can even send you alerts when your particular budgets go over the target.

It definitely helps to track stuff in real time and stay connected to how your finances can ebb and flow even on a daily basis.

The other two sites; Geezeo.com and Wesabe.com are also good for the way they are set up; as social networking sites.

Contrary to the article, I had absolutely no problem connecting to my accounts in Wesabe.com but did with Geezeo. Eventually I did get everything to work, it just took more time.

A drawback to Wesabe was that it did not automatically attempt to categorize all your transactions. Instead it seems to want you to develop your own tags. Now I can see the benefit to personalizing tags and categories, but I hate to go through each type of transaction and come up with something. I prefer to have the app / site at least come up with basic categories and trends so I can review and adjust as I see fit.

Geezeo is very simplistic in design. This is good because you can see and view goals that you have set up and in an instant see how you are doing. It also has some more trendy things like a twitter styled public confessional. I’m sure there are lots of people who really love this type of interaction and even feedback; hence the emense popularity of Facebook and Myspace; but I suspect that perhaps there are many who are already doing this on these type of sites. I just do not get into divulging all this frivolous information. Nor do I get into always viewing everyone else’s frivolous information either.

Where I think the real good potential benefit to a financial social networking site is; in constructive comments and suggestions others may have about alternatives. Alternatives to eating out, deals and bargins, ways to save, etc etc…

Example: If you eat out all the time at a particular restaurant; comments or suggestions regarding alternative places to eat, similar food, certain advertised or unadvertised specials, that other people know about could be helpful.

Mint.com did this on one level by looking at the terms of your banking and credit cards and automatically searching for better deals.

Wesabe did this on another level by offering comments and suggestions from other community members and seemed to try and connect them to certain tags and categories you had – though sometimes I found myself scratching my head trying to figure out how what I was reading was in anyway related to my profile tags and categories.

Of course the beauty and power of social networking is that you can do all this by joining groups, discussions and posting questions and getting feedback.

What would be really cool is if you could combine the two, and come up with much more stylized hints, tips and tricks. Of course this is getting into more data mining aspects and I should probably stop here before my IT integration self gets any crazy ideas…

Oh and one last and very cool thing that I feel I have to mention – consider this my social networking tip of the day –

Geezeo has a promotional contest going on until the end of the month.

It’s called “The Great Geezeo Bailout” and is an opportunity to win one of several great prizes. Top prize is $6,000 to help you get out of debt or pay your mortgage for a few months.

And best of all, it’s FREE !!!

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