Quicken Online is a Web-based application designed to provide guidance for people who use their checkbooks as their main financial-management platform. The application is available at no charge, and links to your checking account as its primary source of transaction data. Compared with other online financial tools, it takes a slightly different approach to money management, but it makes sense for people who are either not interested or don't have the time to manage their finances on a detailed level.
When we first connected the program to our bank account, Quicken Online scanned our transactions and identified which ones were recurring, such as rent, car payment, credit card payment, and even dry cleaning. It also identified regular deposits as paychecks. From this initial analysis, Quicken Online developed a number it calls What's Left, which it displays prominently on the main page.
Managing Your Finances
The What's Left number is different from your checkbook balance because it takes into consideration those expenses coming up before your next paycheck. In this way it advises you in advance about what is likely to be available based on your spending history. You can also link it to your credit cards and investment accounts, but they are secondary to the purpose of letting you know where you stand in terms of cash available. This is an innovative approach that is likely to mirror the way a large number of people actually handle their finances.
Quicken Online automatically categorizes your transactions, leveraging updates from its user community to improve its accuracy rate, so that it also recognizes local businesses that may not be obviously identifiable. The system sets spending targets based on your history, which you can edit, then lets you set text message and e-mail alerts to let you know when you are approaching the limits.
A unique product of Quicken Online's What's Left approach is its money-forecast chart. The diagram shows how much money is available during periods between paychecks, and puts a graphical face on key financial events like rent and car payments. This data was useful at a glance because it takes into consideration regular expenses due before the next paycheck.
Quicken Online is not intended to be a tool for balancing your checkbook and keeping detailed track of investment vehicles, though the transaction data is available if you want to see it. What we like about this tool is that it's free and accessible via any browser, even on cell phones. If you want to keep up on your financial situation without doing a lot of analysis, Quicken Online may be your best tool.