Today's young professionals prefer PCs to paper, but they haven't taken to desktop checkbook programs. So new sites are targeting them with personal-finance services on the Web.
Including Mint.com, Wesabe.com, and Geezeo.com, the sites combine convenience and community. They make it easy for users to track their cash and spending and to get advice from others in similar circumstances. They're about to be joined by heavyweight Quicken, which is launching its own online service on January 8.
Users provide Web passwords for banking and credit card providers, and the sites automatically download transaction data. The services go beyond data aggregators, such as Yodlee.com, by recognizing payees and categorizing spending. They also offer analytical snapshots of where cash is going.
They tap the Web's shared knowledge, too. Discussion groups form around similar topics, or users might upload snapshots of finances for input. The services themselves might suggest specific money savers, such as credit cards with lower rates or savings accounts with higher rates (for which they might get a commission). And they do it all for no charge to users.
Except Quicken Online. It will charge $3 a month for its service. For the price, users can take comfort in experience. "We've been doing it for 25 years," says Jim Del Favero, Quicken product manager. "We're also the company that does your taxes for you." That is, Quicken's sibling program, the online version of TurboTax, will be able to interact with Quicken Online for 2008 data. There's also a special version of Quicken Online for Apple's iPhone. It's all part of appealing to young and chic spenders who'd like a little more control over their finances.