Across many posts I have written about Yodlee being my favorite personal finance tool. I track my net worth using Yodlee, I track my budget and spending through Yodlee money center. Way more than what mint.com offers. I have also experimented with a few other financial accounting tools like quicken online.
My main problem with them is I can’t fully trust them. I covered this suspicion in detail with my Credit Sesame review post.
Why I use Yodlee Money Center?
There are many reasons, for the sake of keeping this post to a readable length, I will just stick to a few.
1. Money Center has been around for over 10 years. Thus, you can definitely count on the products and services they offer. In fact, it’s a lot older than Mint.com, which has just been released around 2009. With old age comes wisdom and we generally tend to trust the old guy. Because of its long history, they have developed a fine collection of tools for tracking your personal finance information.
2. Big financial institutions use Yodlee money center tool for giving value added service to their customers in terms of portfolio management. Bank Of America, Fidelity and American Express are customers of Yodlee that I know of. There are many more. With big names, come the best practices. Yodlee goes through yearly mandatory audit control. If Yodlee is hacked many of these companies would be in serious trouble. and, thinking about this makes me feel most secure with Yodlee than any one else.
3. When you use sites like Yodlee, Mint, Thrive or Quicken, you practically hand over your online account access to them. Security naturally, should be your utmost concern. A combination of firewalls, encrypted database storage, intrusion-detection, traffic monitoring, network data protection via SSL, and yearly third-party audits and inspections already makes Yodlee money center service secure enough.
4. Yodlee has widest list of financial accounts. Out of my 20 odd accounts, Yodlee has 19. Mint, on the other hand gave up at 15. I have a bank, a mutual fund and an insurance account in India. Yodlee lists them perfectly. Where as, every other tools fail.
Yodlee Money Center Review
The following section covers the aspects of Money Center in detail.
How long did it take me to sign up? Less than 10 minutes. Money Center secures log-in by asking you to create a username and password. It also requires you to answer three security questions and select an image that will appear every time you log on. There’s the secret phrase and image only you can identify. Hopefully, that lessens phishing. The process, nevertheless, is so easy and convenient, making Yodlee a friendly tool.
You might complain about its interface, It was much worse last year, prior to their interface uplift. Personally I don’t care, I am a value person rather than looks person. Value attracts me more than the look. Post interface uplift it looks much better though.
Everything is properly laid out for you. Your net worth, payments, expenses chart of last one month. Last few financial transactions, reminders and alerts.
Linking Account in Yodlee
You can type in the name of your financial institution, select it from a list, or browse the most popular institutions by category; banks, credit card companies, investment loan firms etc. Type in your user ID and password, click Link Account, and you’re set. Almost any type of online account can be linked
- Real-Estate Accounts (updated automatically)
- airline and hotel rewards programs
- even web-mail accounts and online news providers
Right now, the website supports over 10,000 various accounts, from credit cards to investments, banks, and loans. The update is, of course, real time. This ensures all the information found on the website is correct. It has more International accounts support than any of the other competitors mentioned above.
Once within 24 hours all your linked accounts gets updated with data pull from the individual accounts. You can update your data on-demand as well.
Budgeting with Yodlee
If you find it difficult to create and control your budget, then most definitely this is the tool that you’ve been looking for. Yodlee allows you to not only develop a budget but also save some cash. You can create a savings goal, as well as compare both your actual spending and budget.
You can view your spending by category for the current month and view your spending patterns over the past six months. After reviewing your spending, you can set budget goals and enable budget alerts. Budget goals can be set for individual categories and/or for total income, expenses, and transfers.
The Set Budget Goals page also displays your monthly total spending against your monthly total income. You can receive alerts when you approach an established budget threshold for a specific category and receive weekly or monthly budget status reports.
You can choose to receive budget status reports weekly and/or monthly. Budget status reports contain the amount you have spent in each category compared to your budget target for all “included” categories.
You can also choose to be notified when the total amount spent/earned in any category comes within a particular percentage or threshold of your desired budget goal.
Note: Yodlee Money center stores all financial account data for last 12 months.
Honestly, I haven’t been using their budget tool much. For us the thing that work best is setting aside 50% of income as soon as they hit checking account. We spend rest 50% freely without thinking much about budget. Even with some unexpected expenses, we never went out of money and trapped into saving yet.
You can share some accounts
This is one of the things I love about Yodlee Money Center. You can share some of your financial information to key people, such as your wife and tax accountant. It definitely reduces plenty of calls and e-mails, as well as promotes better collaboration and communication. Again, I haven’t shared my accounts with anyone yet. I show Yodlee to my wife when we are sitting together on the couch. Didn’t really have to share with her. although I am open to it.
You can view your spending report
Do you want to make yourself feel guilty about that luxurious shopping spree? The Expense Analysis Chart report provides a pie chart and a tabular representation of your expenses broken down by category.
The Cash Flow Analysis Chart report provides a graphic representation of your income versus expenses over a specified period.
Basically, the spending report section is very useful for your research in to your spending habit. You should get enough inspiration by looking at the past mistakes you made.
Net Worth statement
I diligently track the progress of my net worth, at least once a month. It is the total of all your assets linked to your Yodlee account, min us all the liabilities listed there. Refer to this article about how I track my net worth using Yodlee.
It tracks your investment portfolio including individual stocks, funds, treasuries and CDs. Various reports can be generated from portfolio manager including reporting by asset class, market, performance etc. I don’t really use this feature as Fidelity, Merrill Lynch and T. Rowe price have better analysis tools than what Yodlee has. But I need to logon to each of them individually.
I sincerely hope that Yodlee put some more focus on developing better portfolio management tool.
Hopefully, you don’t miss out on your bills
As I’ve always mentioned, paying bills shouldn’t be so stressful. You can just automate as many of them as possible, and you can surely free yourself from the burden of paying. Nevertheless, even the mere act of paying online or through your phone gets out of your mind once in a while.
Simply put, it’s still very important to be notified when it’s time to settle your dues. Fortunately, Yodlee lets you do that and, you can already set up bill reminders. The bill pay section also has a graphical calendar that illustrates when financial events (such as bill payments) occur in a month.
I won’t say Yodlee should be your main choice as tracking tool. However, based on experience, I don’t think you’ll regret this either.
You may get lost in Yodlee, till date I haven’t gone over all the features/pages. Each time I log in, I find something new, something more interesting in Money Center. You may need a lot of clicks to even add a new account. Money center is a data mine. Although you can customize the data any way you want, still Mint or quicken do provide better ease through their simplicity. Yodlee tried answering these long known gaps in their upgrade (still in beta!).
As a new Yodlee user, you may get lost within reports and charts, thank god, they have ‘help’ feature in every page now. I’d recommend Yodlee Money Center for people who are more concerned with quality, safety and security than with site’s ease of use or look-and-feel. While mint.com is a compact camera, Yodlee is a grand SLR which only operates in manual mode.