Tomorrow I’ll be participating in a brainstorming session about online personal finance tools. The people behind this workshop want to know what the average person is looking for when she chooses a tool to manage her money. I promised to poll GRS readers for suggestions.

How I manage my money
For years, I’ve used Quicken to manage my money, both on Mac and PC. I’m using the Mac version now, and it’s way behind its PC cousin. The program has all the features I need to track my bank accounts, my investment accounts, and my business ventures, but these features are difficult to find and use, mired by a lousy interface.

Though I like the idea of an online personal finance tool, in practice I find they have too many barriers for me:

  • They take too long to set up.
  • They have limited functionality.
  • They have annoying interface quirks.

For me to move to an online tool, it would have to offer fuss-free setup, not have a subscription-based income model (I’d rather pay a one-time fee), allow me to customize my transactions, and be able to track investments. I don’t really care about social networking stuff. I’m not that eager to compare my expenses with everybody else.

Meanwhile, I’m gradually moving to a paperless personal finance system. I’ve automated as many transactions as possible. I scan every important document that comes my way. I make regular backups of my data. I’d certainly give serious consideration to a tool that helped with this.

How you manage your money
How do you manage your money? What strategies do you use? What tools have you tried? What are you currently using? Do you manage your money on your computer with Excel, Quicken, or Microsoft Money? Do you manage it online with Wesabe, Mint, or Expensr?

What are the top three things you want out of a personal finance tool or service? Do you want to be able to budget? Connect to your investment account? Discuss money management with other users?

Finally, what are your biggest personal finance challenges? Becoming debt-free? Learning how to invest? Finding money to save? Resisting the temptation to spend?

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