Let’s Talk Money

Social networking sites focus on personal, business finances

p_42There has never been a better time to become more financially aware and responsible. Fortunately, for those too terrified to look at retirement accounts, a group of chatty (and free) financial management Websites  makes  it easy  to focus on how to spend money and reduce expenses.

The three leaders—Mint.com, Geezeo.com, and Wesabe.com —let users aggregate all or most of their financial information in one location, so there’s no need to shuffle around the Internet to view a credit card statement,  review an IRA, or get updates on personal banking.

They provide services ranging from e-mail and text alerts that help users avoid late fees to identifying ways you can save money by changing credit cards or banks. All three have social networking components—Geezeo and Wesabe even have groups for entrepreneurs. Geezeo.com’s Self-Funded Entrepreneurs group, for example, lets members tap into the collective wisdom of the site’s small business community.  For those on the go, the sites can also be accessed from a mobile phone.  While their goals and services are similar, the streamlined Mint.com is by far the most popular of the three, with more than 1 million users. What’s the attraction at Mint? For entrepreneur Nichelle Stephens, it’s how well the site handles multiple accounts.

“Mint can pull in everything from your student loan to your 401(k),” says the Brooklyn resident, who provides bookkeeping services to microbusinesses. Stephens has Mint.com send alerts when her checking account balance drops below a specified level and uses it to help track how much she spends in different categories. “I didn’t think I shopped that much until I started tracking expenses,” she says.

Social networking expert and Mint.com user Navarrow Wright, president and CEO of the urban hip-hop site GlobalGrind.com, says the user-generated content on Geezeo and Wesabe can be especially valuable to people who need help.

No matter which site you use, you can’t lose.

“They provide a constant reminder to keep our finances up-front,” says Wright. “During the current economic crisis, we all need to take a closer look at where our money is going.”

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