Within the last year, there has been a proliferation of interactive money management sites. If you don't know how they work, they basically categorize your income and spending so that you can better track your finances.
Depending on the service, you enter in your own data or can have it scraped from online banking sites you already are signed up with. Kind of like what one would see in Money or Quicken, but online, and often they give advice based upon your data.
For instance, if they see you have a high-interest credit card, they might suggest one with a lower rate. As of now, they all seem to be free of charge.
Some examples: Wesabe, Mint, Buxfer, Geezeo, Billeo, Quizzle. I know I've seen even more. I can't recommend or offer too much individual comment on any of these because I haven't used them enough and, frankly, I don't feel like going through the set up for each one.
I really don't know how anyone decides which ones(s) to use.
The ancestor of this technology seems to be the account aggregators, such as Yodlee. With the explosion of so-called Web 2.0, they've evolved into something more. It's inevitable there will be a shakedown sometime soon, with some collapsing, some merging, maybe some charging, and some being bought by banks or online banking providers.
Until that happens, I plan to sit on the sidelines.
Is anyone using any service like this yet? If so, how has it (or not) helped you?
Tom Valenti is a marketer and project manager who currently works for a financial institution in New Jersey. For more info, visit him at http://tomvalenti.com.