It's a big world. Can two personal finance web sites peacefully co-exist? We'll see.
Around the beginning of this year, I joined the newly debuted Quicken Online, figuring I needed to do something to keep my money matters in order. It seemed to make sense. Feeling tapped out, I really didn't want to spend $40 or so to buy the Quicken software, only to learn that I had $40 less in my bank account than I would have, had I not made that last purchase. But Quicken Online was only something like $2.99 a month. I could handle that.
Later on I learned about Mint.com, which was free, and that sounded even better. (Josh Smith, a WalletPop regular, is a fan.)
Then just about a week ago, I read an interesting article by Mason Currey, an assistant editor at Metropolis.com, who wrote an article for Slate, entitled "What's the best software for keeping track of your personal finances?"
It's a fun article. Currey says he is "a comically inept manager of my personal finances" and then he proceeds to look at a multitude of the personal financial software out there. His conclusion was that the best of the best was Quicken Online, and the second best was Mint.com, which missed getting listed at the top because you couldn't customize some of your financial categories.
As Currey concluded, "Mint doesn't let you create your own -- forcing me to classify subway expenditures under "Auto" and visits to the corner deli under "Groceries" instead of something clever like "late-night beer runs.'" He gave the edge to Quicken Online, which does allow customization of financial categories.
Well, a few days ago, Mint started offering its customers the ability to create their own financial categories.
And in my email today? Quicken Online sent me a note, informing me that Quicken Online is now free.
I'm sure the executives at Mint and Quicken Online are pulling out their hair, trying to figure out how to best the other. But one clear winner in the personal finance software game is refreshingly undeniable: the public.
Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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