BookkeepingMoney management has moved far beyond hand-written ledgers: these days, your personal finances can practically keep track of themselves through software that updates your account balances on a daily basis. You can even handle the details of managing your money online through a variety of different web applications, which you can access from anywhere. The real question, though, is deciding which of those many applications is really the best.

Mint.com

When it comes to online money management, Mint.com is always the site that comes to mind. It’s been the premier online money management tool for over a year now, partly because it’s free, but mostly because it really does offer a number of great features. The initial set-up is fairly simple: you’ll have to answer a few questions about your bank, credit card, and investment accounts right off the bat. After you’ve provided that information, though, Mint automatically updates your information daily — effectively eliminating all of your bookkeeping. With all the information Mint has access to, it can provide you with loads of analysis. It automatically categorizes expenses and keeps you up-to-date on just where you’re spending money through easy-to-understand graphs.

Mint.com

Mint.com

Quicken Online

Quicken’s name has been synonymous with bookkeeping and money management for quite a while now. But it’s only been recently that Intuit (the company behind Quicken) has offered online money management tools. Quicken Online, despite its relative youth, is very useful. The tool just became free for online users. Its interface will be familiar to anyone who has used Quicken’s offline products. Quicken Online will pull all the information from your various accounts over to one central website, and allow you to manage your bills and budget.

Quicken

Quicken

Rudder

Rudder takes a different approach to personal finance than most other online money management tools. Instead of bringing together all your personal finance information onto one website, Rudder collects your information and sends it to your email inbox. Every morning, the site provides you with all your account balances, a list of recent activity, upcoming bills, and a notification of what you should have left over after paying all your bills. Rudder is a free tool.

Rudder.com

Rudder.com

Making the Decision

While there are thousands of other money management tools available online, many of them can be eliminated from consideration by just looking at a couple of factors. The most important is security: Mint, Quicken Online, and Rudder all list their security precautions up front. Many other sites promise that they’ll protect your information, but without details on exactly how they propose to do that, it’s difficult to trust them with the information necessary to manage your money — information that could be used against you in any number of ways. That very fact alone elevates these three money management tools to among the best. From there, it’s just a matter of looking through each of them and seeing which has the features for best automating your money management.

Image credit: dehook / iStockphoto

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Suggested reading:
- “Mint.com Offers Web-based Financial Tracking Tools” (Mashable)
- “Rudder Helps You Manage Your Money From Your Inbox (The Startup Review)” (Mashable)