Recently, Quicken Online has switched to a free service in order to compete with other free account aggregators. I have never consistently used an account aggregator to manage my personal finances, I have mostly used the Excel and file folder method. I gave Mint a shot when it first arrived on the personal finance scene, but I stopped using it when I couldn’t import my Capital One Money Market Rewards account. When Quicken Online changed to a free service I decided to give online aggregating another shot.
Follow this LINK and click on the Start Now button. Conveniently, if you have a TurboTax, Quicken.com or QuickBooks user ID already, you can use that same ID. To register you have to provide an email address, user ID, password and security question. It also asks for your year of birth and zip code to tailor financial advice.
Now all you have to do is add all of your bank, credit card and investment accounts. To add an account you can either type in the bank name or select it from a most used list. Once you’ve selected the correct bank, you have to provide your online ID and password. Also, if there are security questions from the bank’s end, you have to correctly answer those to proceed. It’s the exact same process as signing into your online account.
After adding at least one account, you can either add another account or begin using Quicken Online. I entered my checking account, money market rewards account, two credit card accounts, Schwab account and Vanguard accounts.
The home page keeps track of all of your accounts in a column on the left-hand side that is divided into three segments (at least for me): bank accounts, credit cards and loans, and investment accounts. Each section has a total and there is a total balance that sums up the three sections. This is the most useful tool in my opinion. It will make my monthly financial updates significantly easier to keep track of. Also, it’s a great way to make sure that accounts that are no longer in use, but are still open do not incur random fees or begin to accumulate interest.
The home page also has a tool for bill pay reminders, which I will most likely not take advantage of. I don’t have any problems paying bills on time and most of my bills are automatically paid. There is a pie chart that keeps track of spending for the previous rolling month. There’s also a tool that displays your money in, money out and the difference between those two numbers for the previous rolling month. These two tools are not exactly useful for me upon first glance as it considers my down payment an expense. Apparently, I have overpaid in the last 30 days by over $40,000 and my pie chart is 95% Misc. Expense. There is a way to change the time range that is displayed in these tools to any value desired under one year.
The my transactions page has all of the transactions for all accounts that occurred in the time line selected. Each transaction includes the date of transaction, account, payee (ie. Mcdonald’s), category and amount. This page has potential to be very useful, however, it does a poor job at first of categorizing the transactions. My paychecks are categorized as “transfer in” instead of paycheck. The categories may be changed manually and new categories may be formed.
This page breaks down where you are spending your money. It has the same pie chart from the home page. There is a bar chart that breaks down your total spending by month. Also, there is a list that sums up the expense categories. This page will be more useful once I manually correct the categories.
The my budget page tracks selected categories for budgeting purposes. Goals are entered for a given category and the amount spent already for the month is tracked. At the top the overall expenses and goal is tracked. I have never used a budget and I do not foresee myself using one in the near future, however, the functionality of this budgeting page appears to be good.
Quicken Online provides mobile and email updates and reminders. You can have balances and transactions sent to your mobile device either daily or weekly. Weekly summaries can be sent via email. You can have bill reminders sent a desired number of days prior to the due date to either your email of mobile device. You can also have alerts sent to your email or mobile device if your checking account dips below a certain level, a large expense is made or your credit card account goes over a certain limit.
There is a community section that allows you to post questions for other Quicken Online users to answer. I haven’t surfed around this section yet, but it appears to be a nice way to have any questions answered by experienced users. Also, there is a blog run by Quicken Online that will keep you updated with changes and upgrades.
The security of Quicken Online is very similar, if not the exact same as online banks. I’m not sure how this whole online security works, but here is what the website says:
We rely on advanced, industry-recognized security and virus safeguards to keep all your financial data private and protected. With password-protected sign in, firewall protected servers, and the same encryption technology (128-bit SSL) used by the world’s top financial institutions, we have the security elements in place to give you peace of mind. Quicken Online is a VeriSign Secured™ product.
Good enough for me.
The simplicity and quickness that an account can be set up was extremely encouraging. It was nice to see all of my accounts were fully covered by the service. The major down fall is the inability to automatically and correctly categorize my spending. I will most likely continue using Quicken Online as it is very nice to have all of my accounts aggregated in one place.
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