In my continued quest to find free personal finance software, I checked out Yodlee. It’s actually the software behind Mint and the online software packages at several banks. Like Mint, it’s completely secure. In fact, you travel through several identity confirmation screens before you enter your password. The only odd thing about it was how hard it was to find the Yodlee MoneyCenter registration page. Rather than going to their primary site, I had to Google it.
How Yodlee Works
After checking out Mint yesterday, I was surprised by how much more robust Yodlee is. It isn’t as pretty to look at it, but it has much greater functionality. My guess is that they keep it sparse so their corporate customers can customize it with their own logos. As with Mint, it was very easy to import data for my accounts. In addition to banks and credit cards, it can read pull from loans, investment accounts, even Gmail and PayPal.
It offers several different views of your spending habits, including spending compared to income and expenses categories. I haven’t customized it yet, so my biggest expense is checks. That isn’t terribly helpful at first, but you can edit the categories to indicate which one each check belongs to. It not only shows the pie chart, but also dollars and percents of total spending for each category.
I could also view specific transactions. It labels transactions when it downloads them, but I could re-label them if it had chosen the wrong title. In addition to built-in categories, you can create and rename the categories.
The Positives of Yodlee
As with Mint, Yodlee was simple and seamless to set up. It pulled in the data effortlessly. Of course, I was using a bank account and credit card from their primary list, which probably helps.
It offered a very detailed overview page where I could set up my own alerts in a variety of categories and view my Net Worth. It didn’t offer me any advice about saving money, but those aren’t tools I need at the moment.
It does offer the most important element I need: the ability to manually enter transactions. It took a bit of looking around to find the small “manual transactions” button, but at least it’s doable. I could imagine the entry screen becoming tedious if you have a lot of transactions to enter, though.
The Negatives of Yodlee
It had fewer negatives than Mint, at least for my needs, but it wasn’t perfect.
- Difficult to add a cash account. In the current version, it tells you can add manual accounts, but then won’t let you. Finally, I visited their forum where I learned that you can track cash by going to “Portfolio Manager” and selecting “Add manual accounts for offline assets.” They’re working on a simpler method for the next update.
- No help search box. The help screens are only FAQs, there isn’t a way to search for the answer I need quickly. I had to join the forums to find the info I needed.
- Tiny font. I didn’t see a way to easily adjust the font size. I’m not old, but staring at this tiny front would make my eyes swim after a while.
I was impressed with Yodlee. I like that it can track all of my accounts seamlessly and provide me with very detailed information about my overall financial picture. It’s not as intuitive as Mint, but I’m okay with that. As with Mint, there were a couple things missing that I’d really like to have, but maybe I could figure them out with a little more time. I think this one is a definite possibility for us.