Crisis a boon to money management websites
Balancing checkbooks and relying on paper bank statements is so last century.
Over the past two years, websites such as Mint, Buxfer, Geezeo and Wesabe are wooing users with powerful online money management tools and the promise of access to their financial information from anywhere in the world.
And it's working.
New user signups have tripled for industry leader Mint.com since the financial crisis hit the United States in September, with 40,000 people joining in the last week alone.
Geezeo had 20,000 visitors a month back in May -- today, they're averaging 150,000.
And they're by no means alone.
"You have this generation of people using debit and credit cards, but removed from where their money is going," Geezeo.com co-founder Peter Glyman told AFP. "The silver lining is that it creates an excellent audit trail."
The ability to aggregate credit card statements, checking account balances, and other financial data together into a simple interface was what attracted 32-year-old Kelly Whalen to Wesabe.com.
"With so many accounts all over the place, it's hard to figure out what's going on with just a pen and paper," she said.
With the help of Wesabe's financial tools, as well as its anonymous user discussion forums, the stay-at-home mother of four from Pennsylvania embarked upon a "No-spend Month."
With some preparation, she was able to limit almost all of her extraneous spending for an entire month.
"We ended up saving 500 dollars, which was our Christmas budget," Whalen said. "It showed just how much money goes out the door."
Whalen is one of thousands of users who have cut down on their spending with help from the site.
"Half of our users have changed their spending as a result of using our program," said Mint founder Aaron Patzer. "Average user spending has decreased by 300 dollars to 400 dollars per month over the last year."