Online Personal Finance Software Reviews: Wesabe

In the last of my free personal finance software reviews, I checked out Wesabe. After testing Mint and Yodlee, I was expecting Wesabe to have more features. Instead, it’s the most stripped down of the three, at least as far as the personal finance features go. Wesabe is actually a combination of basic personal finance software and social networking. I can do without the social networking, but I can see where it might be helpful for some people.

How Wesabe Works

When you join Wesabe, you can choose whether or not add your accounts. You can join simply for the social networking if you want to. I uploaded the same two accounts, a credit card and a bank account, to test the personal finance features. Rather than store your log-in information on their server, you install an uploader that stores the passwords on your computer. My credit card was simple to upload, but my bank was more complicated. Fortunately, they have a video that walked me through the steps. Once you do it the first time, it remembers for the future.

Once your data is imported, you have to manually tag the transactions. If you tag one store, it will add that tag to all other transactions for that store, but I imagine there will be a lot of tagging for the first few months. For popular stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, it suggested tags, but other stores didn’t have default tags I could choose. The transaction list shows the store, the amount, and a running balance (the latter two parts that are blurred out.) Once tags are added, it shows you tips related to that tag.

Once I had my posts tagged, I could view a spending summary.

I could also view spending by category. It compares my spending with averages based on other members’ spending for the same tag. According to the comments I read, there is a problem with multiple tags for the same transaction being added together in your total spending. So if you tag “food” and “restaurant” for the same $10 purchase, your total spending summary would be $10 over.

Finally, you can also create goals. I chose a sample goal based on the few tags I’d created. Once you link it to tags, it shows your totals for the associated tags. You can also join groups for support working toward your goals.

The Positives of Wesabe

Like Mint, Wesabe was very easy to use. If I couldn’t figure something out, they offered a video that showed me how to do it. It was very Web 2.0, so the graphics were friendly and readable.

This was the only one that lets you track cash transactions.

It also offers the most privacy. Your log-ins are never entered anywhere on their site. When providing member spending averages, it doesn’t show specific details about you ever.

The Negatives of Wesabe

Like the rest, Wesabe had some negatives that will keep me from using it”

  • Inability to enter manual transactions
  • Very thin money management tools
  • Need to manually tag transactions for new purchases. The others did that automatically.

Final Thoughts

I can see Wesabe being very helpful for recent graduates and people new to money management. I think it’s also helpful for people who enjoy social networking and want to discuss personal finance in these areas. Personally, I wasn’t interested in the tips and I don’t want to join a lot of groups for support reaching my goals. I just want a personal finance tool.

Based on all my experiences with all three sites, Yodlee is the most likely contender, but it’s also likely that we’ll go with Quicken 2008. We know how it works and unless it has major bugs, the other three simply don’t have all the features we want.

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