Personal accounting has evolved from messing with spreadsheets to using to online tools that help you get a broader view of your financial well-being. The top accounting sites that sources like “Kiplinger” and the “Wall Street Journal” recommend do more than let you enter your expenses. They have survived the online competition as they let you set and track savings goals, monitor your net worth and see how you spend your money.
If you don’t like the idea of linking your online credit card and bank accounts to an accounting site, there’s BudgetPulse.com, which doesn’t ask for private information and is free. The software that the site uses lets you create and monitor your budget and manually input information about your income and expenses. Use the site to create savings goals and set spending limits, enter and track your net worth and manage your debts. To make entering your past accounting information simple, you can import data from spreadsheets, your banking institution and accounting software.
While sites like Mint.com and moneyStrands.com use paid sponsors to let you access their services free, Mvelopes.com is a subscription-based accounting site that’s free of advertising when you sign up for its premium services. The site tracks and categorizes your expenses when you link your online bank and credit card accounts, and it then helps you make a personalized spending plan. Mvelopes even tracks other types of financial accounts, like your IRA, mutual funds, stocks, mortgage and 401(k), so you can instantly see your net worth. When you pay for the premium service, the site gives you online bill paying services.
The site moneyStrands.com is similar to Mint and is free to use. When you connect your online banking and credit card accounts, moneyStrands records your financial activity and categorizes your expenses. If needed, you can manually enter new expense categories. The site also features a currency converter so you can see how much you spend when you travel abroad.
Expensify.com is a free accounting site that helps you keep track of business and travel expenses. The site records company credit card charges and lets you take pictures of receipts. The program that Expensify uses gleans information from pictures of receipts that you take—like the vendor’s name, date and cost—so manual inputs aren’t necessary. You can import receipts via email and from the site’s partners, like Evernote.com. Gather the images that you took and relevant expenses to create and submit an expense report to your company.
Launching in 2007, Mint.com is one of the free accounting sites that has been around the longest. It’s simple to use as it tracks all the purchases that you make and money that you earn when you link your bank and credit card accounts to the site. The site automatically categorizes your expenses and lets you set up your own categories so you know just how much you’re spending on items like groceries, restaurants or entertainment. Mint also tracts your debts and sends you alerts when it notices an unusual transaction.