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Mint.com sweeps the reviews

The free website Mint.com is reviewed and recommended more than any other personal finance website. It manages more types of accounts than any other personal finance website -- bank accounts, credit card accounts, mortgage, loans, 401(k) and investment brokerage accounts -- and can link to more than 15,000 financial institutions. It automatically downloads your financial data from your banks and other financial centers and presents your financial picture to you in a variety of charts and graphs, praised by reviewers for their clarity and usefulness. You can also set goals and monitor your progress toward them.

Mint.com sends out alerts, warnings, bill reminders and account summaries via email or text message. Apps for the iPhone, Android phones and other mobile devices are available (see our discussion of Mobile Apps). Its unique Ways to Save feature, which recommends potentially money-saving financial services to users, is another tool that sets Mint apart from its competitors, reviewers say.

MoneyStrands and Yodlee MoneyCenter are worthwhile alternatives

If you need only a basic personal finance site, reviewers recommend MoneyStrands.com (Free) -- particularly for beginners who want to focus on budgeting. Users can add and delete budgets, create custom categories and receive limited financial summaries. The site sends out email alerts for low balances and recurring bills that are due, and it offers forums where users can discuss their financial issues with others. In addition, MoneyStrands has a predictive feature in which the budget module proposes spending limits based on past data.

One key drawback: MoneyStrands.com doesn't automatically download your data from your bank and credit card accounts -- you have to do it manually or through data files that you obtain from your bank(s) and then upload to MoneyStrands. This could be a lot of work, depending on how many accounts and transactions you have, and your financial snapshot is only as recent as your latest manual entry of information.

Yodlee MoneyCenter (Free) is a more comprehensive personal finance management service than MoneyStrands. Yodlee automatically aggregates and updates accounts, and can track virtually any type of account, including banking, investment, real estate, credit card, loan and PayPal accounts. It even tracks members' frequent flyer miles and credit card reward points. Unlike most other sites, Yodlee MoneyCenter lets users pay bills and transfer funds (without leaving the website), as well as split transactions for more accurate categorization. It also gives investors the option of recording transactions manually and generates reports showing spending trends; it even calculates a user's ongoing net worth.

Reviewers praise Yodlee MoneyCenter's capabilities, but describe its user interface as boring and sometimes confusing. For example, Kathy Yakal of PCMag.com says Yodlee is for people who want maximum personal finance tracking features and aren't concerned with how the site looks. The reviewer at Kiplinger.com warns users to be prepared for "data overload," as Yodlee provides more details and reports than Mint.com.

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