Online financial application Wesabe fully embraces Web 2.0 functionality. It may seem strange at first to see input from people you don't know show up in your financial information, but in addition to Wesabe's constant updates of your financial status, you have the ability to add comments that can be shared with other Wesabe users as well.
Wesabe focuses on three primary areas; your accounts (banks, credit cards, paychecks), tips (comments from people in your Wesabe community, and Goals (things you want to accomplish financially). We set up our Wesabe account, identified our financial accounts, and the system pulled in and categorized our transaction history.
We opted to group some of our transactions differently from Wesabe's automated groups by adding our own tags, which then appeared in our personal tag cloud. You can set goals and limits for specific tags to be advised when we were near or over limits. Adding nonelectronic transactions, such as cash payments, can be done by uploading a file or from manual entry in your browser. In keeping with its social networking roots, Wesabe enables connections from microblogging site Twitter.com, making it quick and simple to add cash transactions via direct tweet from your phone.
Wesabe is more useful than traditional finance-management programs for social networking masters. The site offers constant updates on your financial status via text or e-mail, and offers you the ability to add comments that can be shared with other Wesabe users.
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The Tips tab lets the Wesabe community into your financial life. Next to a charge for a dinner out, we noticed comments on the location from other users that included comparisons to other restaurants and suggestions for places we might like to try. The comments were not specific to our transaction; they were culled from Wesabe's categories and tags on our transactions. Other users can't see your transactions, only category averages. And if you're shopping, you can search by category (hotels, for example), then select a specific brand (Hilton), and see what has been spent, and what others think of it.
The fact that Wesabe doesn't balance your checkbook doesn't mean it isn't keeping up with transactions. In some ways, Wesabe may be a more useful tool for day-to-day life than other, more-structured applications. Because it is so attuned to the social networking mode of operation, it may make you more prone to paying attention to what's going on in your financial life.
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If you're looking for a formal checkbook-management product, Wesabe won't help you; Quicken Online and Microsoft Money Plus Premium are adept at that. But Wesabe is geared toward a more casual approach to finances, as a way to help its members stay within their budgets and get advice from others using the site. For those concerned with the bigger picture of their spending habits than the minutiae of balancing the checkbook, Wesabe may be your best alternative.