Free Finance Apps!

mint

Not only can you use awesome financial tools to increase your funds for free, but you can also use Bundle to see how you compare with your neighbors on your spending!  The availability and quality of free financial tools on the web is amazing until you consider the profit finance companies can make with the cloud business model.

Starting off the line up of heavy online financial hitters is mint.com, a website that was recently purchased by Intuit.  For those unfamiliar with Intuit, they are the company behind Quicken, Quick Books, and TurboTax, three of the biggest players in the personal and small business finance space.

So if Intuit is the undisputed market leader when it comes to personal financial software, why would they feel the need to purchase a small time cloud provider of personal finance management tools like Mint?  Because Mint is going to change the world of personal finance.  Google has successfully developed a business model of providing a service for free and charging the companies that can make money who want access to the audience.  This is what Mint does so well.  Intuit has seen the writing on the wall, and knows if they want to continue to own the personal finance space, they need to own Mint.

Besides Mint, there are a few other products you can add to your portfolio of free apps for finance. Some excellent sources of free finance tools are at About.com, and Zenhabits provides 6 great free alternatives to Quicken and MS Money.  Of these, the most intriguing is Wasabe, which adds the online social element to managing your finances (no, not sharing your account balances, but helping you compare your spending in categories with other users.  (Helps to determine how far from normal you really are! ;)  In addition to Wasabe is Bundle, a site that makes it easy to examine spending habits in many demographic groups, allowing you to see exactly how similar neighbors are handling their expenses.

(UPDATE) I was recently made aware that the Wasabe product, which has been discontinued, has a replacement called Pocketbook.  You can check it out here.

If you own a small business, you have yet more options to consider.  You can now manage your accounting online with Outright.com.  For a teaser, you can go to Quickbooks, but you will end up paying a monthly fee.  For free invoicing, you can use Freshbooks, and do small amounts without ever having to pay a fee.  Once you start really doing some business, that will have to change though!  GnuCash is a package that will handle double entry business accounting & runs on pretty much any operating system.

Many of these tools have mobile apps that allow you to update and review your financial info while you are on the road, which really beats dragging out the old checkbook!

I know there must be more out there – let me know which ones you recommend!

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