Top 25 Web 2.0 Apps for Money, Finance, and Investment
How do you manage your money? Investments? Do you remember what your roommate owes you, or what you owe someone else for lunch when they picked up the tab? Can't keep track of where you're spending all your money? Pulling your hair out after paying for your medical bills? Need to cut back, so that you can save and find a nice home? Or maybe you'd rather spend your lucre on a vacation for the best price.
The smart way to money management, personal finance, and investing is to use the right tools — tools that aren't so intimidating that you'll ignore them after a while. This guide to the top 25 web 2.0 applications should help you with the above will come in handy when it comes to managing all your money concerns. [If you're not familiar with "web 2.0", read: what is web 2.0, or the compact definition.] Many of these apps have a community nature to them, so if you need some friendly advice from members, or wish to give it, you can.
Applications are listed approximately in alphabetical order within each grouping (except when two apps are described jointly.) Most of the services covered here are either free or have a free component or trial.
This group of applications refers to those in which money actually changes hands electronically, either as part of a loan or as some form of payment (but not as part of an investment). Mobile applications have been left out, as the term web 2.0 hasn't yet been widely extended to smart phones and PDAs.
Prosper offers social networks for peer-to-peer community loans and financing. A group leader can create a new group and invite people to become members. An individual can register as a borrower and loan prospects can build a profile for themselves. Loans from a lender can be distributed to a single person or divided amongst several borrowers. A borrower's loan might come from a single lender or several, to reduce risk, and borrowers can choose from whom they select loans, based on the interest rates offered.
Zopa is a lot like Prosper. It serves as a potential alternative to expensive short-term loan rates, ideal for managing some of your consumer debt. Zopa does differ slightly from Prosper in some regards however. Zopa has nuances in the way loans are qualified and applied. Also note that Zopa is currently an UK-based system, however, they are "coming to the United States".
Personal Finance, Money Management, Expense Sharing
These applications deal specifically with tracking your personal finances and expenditures, paying bills, etc.
DimeWise lets you define multiple accounts (savings, checking) and enter and track your transactions, including future expenses. Each expense can have a category tag as well as a note. Expenses can be exported or imported (OFX format, aka Microsoft Money 2002+, Quicken 2004+), set as recurring (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), and even plotted as a chart to help you determine where your money is going. They have a 30-day free trial.
Foonance bills itself as a flexible way for individuals, couples and families to manage their personal finances. You can track your net worth over what they call "money stores", import your bank statements, "transfer" amounts between stores, "schedule" transactions and categorize them, and view pending transactions and money store balances. There don't appear to be any report capabilities, unlike DimeWise.
iOWEYOU is described as an expenses sharing calculator that roommates or friends can used to keep track of who owes what. The service is free for groups of up to five people. While no money changes hands, it might be great for that insane roommate of yours who calculates rent to the fourth decimal, based on an actual square footage ratio of your room compared to the entire place... Uh, you know what I mean.
NetworthIQ is the recipient of an SEOmoz.orgWeb 2.0 Awards Honorable Mention in "Business, Money, and eCommerce" and was declared #6 in the Top 10 Innovative Web 2.0 Applications of 2005. It's a free personal finance manager that allows you to monitor your net worth, debts, assets, etc. You can share your net worth publicly with other members, and view theirs as well. No private contact information is displayed, though a few PF (personal finance) bloggers do have a link to their website.
Wesabe is a web-based personal finance tool where you can manage your finances. They've also added acommunity component where you can share your experiences with money, your saving tips, and your personal money goals. [While Wesabe isn't the only place to share goals, it seems that what was once taboo (publicly declaring your worth and your goals) is now encouraged.] Wesabe actually interacts with your bank accounts, so it's more than just a tracking tool. There are a few tiers of membership, including "free", as well as a free promo on Pro accounts through 2007. This appears to be amongst the most robust of the "personal finance management" tools being offered online at present, and there are many more features than what's covered here.
Stock Market, Investing, Tracking, Portfolio Management
These applications are specifically for tracking stocks and discussing with community members, managing a portfolio, and conducting actual trades.
The name BullPoo itself is enough to warrant a look at this investment community where you can "share and collaborate on investment information." It has a rich interface, but possibly a bit intimidating, where you can organize your portfolio, store trade history, set an avatar, write or read blogs on whatever stock, make forecasts on a stock to see how you compare to other members, and loads more. For someone with the investment bug that wants to be part of a community, this site could be a positive "timewaster".
- CAPS (Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool's CAPS application is similar in nature, if not appearance, to BullPoo. At least from a superficial view. It's not so much about tracking your investments as participating in a community and predicting or viewing predictions of stock outcomes. There's a lot here to be absorbed, but it seems like quite a diversion from regular Motley Fool financial advice in that it seems almost frivolous.
DigStock is a Digg-like list of stock market + investing articles. Members submit a synopsis of an article from elsewhere (with the URL) and other members vote for the stories they like. Each story, instead of being tagged with a topic category, is tagged with the appropriate stock ticker symbols. The assumption is that because the article ranking is community-based, active members will help define what type of stories are desirable. And of course, there's the obligatory stock charts. Update, Jan. 2009: DigStock is no longer operational, however in the past six months a new social media site for financial news, Tip'd, has appeared on the scene and is gaining traction.
FeelingBullish is very similar to CAPS in functionality, and also follows a community model of sharing and communicating with other investors.
GStock is "a virtual supercomputer" for stock market analysis. It runs on a grid computing model and claims to test over one billion investment strategies per stock. Then it emails you BUY/ SELL (B/S) alerts for major US-traded stocks in your portfolio. They also claim that 70% of trades based on their BUY/SELL alerts make profits. Navigation, though, is extremely sparse. Enter a stock ticker symbol in the search field to get a chart with B/S indicators. Then apply common sense as to whether you should take the action offered, based on your price for that stock.
MoneyTwins is not Forex (foreign exchange) trading per se, but rather, if you have foreign currency and want to exchange it with someone for other currency, you can do so with community members instead of a bank - thus reducing commission costs.
SaneBull is customizable web interface with movable components that let you track specific stocks by symbol and market, as well as browse news feeds from several financial websites. It uses a number of web 2.0 technologies including AJAX.
StockTickr is another social investing application. You can watch animated stock tickers change in real-time, or subscribe to the RSS web feed. Trades are categorized by popular, profit, long, short, open, closed, and alerts. Though what you are watching is based on the portfolios of members. That is, all watchlists are shared amongst the StockTickr community.
Wikinancial is a financial community where watchlists are shared, as are discussions in the forum — each stock has its own. In addition to the obligatory market and stock charts, there's also an archive of articles, presumably written by members. They have something called the "chat" box, though it's not an integrated IM (Instant Messaging) client, merely a form for starting a new discussion thread. Though provision for real-time chatting, text or voice, might add another dimension to the community, provided some controls such as group moderation were implemented.
Zecco combines two popular features — a financial community and free online investment trading. That's right, free, as in no commissions and no hidden fees. This bold move garnered them thousands of new accounts on launch day, an event that was covered by CNBC TV. To actually trade, you have to provide banking information, employment information, and a government ID, all of which have to be faxed after account confirmation.
These applications help you to find, sell or just manage your real estate properties.
Homethinking is a real estate application with a difference. They take an Amazon/ eBay approach in that you can find agents and see "reviews" of that agent, as well a list and a map of what properties they are handling at present. Details of how many properties they have sold are also provided, including location, house details, and asking and final prices. A random query for Atlanta showed a list of agents for whom no reviews were present. However, Homethinking claims over 1.5 million listed agents and nearly 2.5 million transactions.
Have real estate in your investment portfolio? iiProperty offers numerous features to help you manage your properties online: advertise properties for sale or rent (allows pictures), send notices to tenants or rent invoices, track rents and leases, view status indicators and alerts, manage income and expenses. iiProperty is a fairly comprehensive package with 5 price points, including Lite (free), which lets you advertise properties, post to Craigslist, and track online ads, leases, tenant records, rent due + received, and more.
Need to get away from your insane roomate who calculates rent to mad decimal places? Use Rentometer, which is part of iiProperty. It lets landlords determine if they are not charging enough rent for their area, and tenants can find out if they are being charged too much. A random test for a $1000/m studio apartment in Sandy Springs (Atlanta), Georgia showed that, just down the street, there's an similar unit for only $525. Move, and you can put the savings into stocks, or loan it out on Prosper.
Trulia is a real estate search engine for the United States that gives you the option of specifying price range, property type, # of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage. You can specify region by city or zip code, and a search produces not only a list of properties and a link to the appropriate seller, but a Google map of the region with icons marking each. They also offer interactive heat maps which show price trends. So if you are interested in investing in one or more properties, Trulia gives you a birds eye view of what's available that fits your criteria.
Zillow has a database of millions of residential properties that buyers can browse, along with maps, estimates of a property compared against nearby properties, advice on loans, and a loan calculator. Sellers can get an estimate of their home and keep it private or make public. They can also compare profiles of nearby properties. Current homeowners who are neither buying nor selling can get an estimate of their home and compare it to other properties.
These are applications that have a web 2.0-ish aspect to them but do not fall into any of the above categories.
cFares lets you specify desired trip details such as from/to locations, departing/returning dates, time of day (morning, noon, afternoon, etc.), and ticket class (economy, business, first class), and finds you the lowest airfare in their database. They'll also check nearby airports around your from/to locations, to provide alternates. For example, a trip from Boston to Atlanta on Dec 13, returning Dec 20, economy class returned Delta and American Airlines flights ranging from $149 to $199, plus taxes in some cases. While searching is free, these rates are only available to cFares members. Membership allows you to purchase a ticket online.
- MedBill Manager
MedBillManager, as the name suggests, lets you manage all your medical records (providers, bills, etc.) online, track payments owed to you, and track medical expenses for easy reporting to the government, insurers, and employers. You can compare your medical costs against that of other members. While MedBillManager is a fairly robust, complex application, they've done a nice job with the explanation page and the sample screens, so it's easy to see the scope of the application.
Want to know whether what you are earning for your job compares to others? Need to know if you are paying an employee fairly? PayScale has a database that spans numerous countries and breaks them down into regions (states, provinces). An interesting thing about PayScale is that it appears to build its database from members. Not exactly accurate if there's false data being entered, but over time, the information will probably become more accurate. They offer you a free salary report as an incentive to fill out your details. In addition, they also have resources (links, articles, etc.) for job seekers.
Additional (general) sources used for the items above include:
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