I was chatting with friends and some of them mentioned that they were using sites to keep track of their various information from their banks, frequent flier programs, what they owed the gas company, the electric company and their ISPs. Three people were using mint and one was using yodlee It seemed like a good idea for about a quart of a second until I realized what that meant.

They are centralizing all of their information about accounts, money, credit cards and precisely the things you most fear being stolen while you’re online.

So, on the one hand I think that these services are providing an invaluable tool for me to use in order to figure out how I am spending my money and how I might spend it better and/or differently, but I find that I am unable to partake in what they have to offer.

I’ve been asking myself what would have to be different for me to trust them. There’s the obvious single idea that my bank could just provide the service which wouldn’t require that I trust anyone I don’t already have to, but that’s kind of a cop out. I have a whole other post about the management of personal information in the connected, cloud computing world, though it’s still in an amorphous blob in my head.

As it stands I may still go use one of the two services even though I have all kinds of qualms with them because I really would like to get some more detailed information on where my money is going. Even if I do though, these services can’t automatically figure everything out, like when I go to the grocery store, I’d really like to break my purchase down into food, prepared/frozen food, alcohol, toiletries and the like, which would involve having the itemized receipt which they can’t automatically get at. At least not yet.

Maybe I will just wind up rolling my own based on the Excel spreadsheet I already use to balance my checkbook.

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on web-based personal finance

  1. I’ve been using Yodlee, and if I had to choose one over the other, I’d trust them more than Mint. Bank of America, HSBC and some other banks use Yodlee for some of their services.

    I figure that’s about a safe a track record as I’m going to get if centralizing my finance reporting is the goal.

  2. Yeah. The advantage of mint seems to be that it’s a lot prettier which matters when you want to visualize and think about how your money is working for/against you.

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