Online Personal Finance Software: GBI Home Finance Manager

I’ve taken a break from playing with Money and Quicken for awhile, to see if I can get away with just downloading files once a month, versus inputting every transaction every day (latte, $3… latte, $3…). In the meantime, I’ve been trying out GBI Home Finance Manager (GBIfin), a personal finance manager that is completely online so you can access it from any computer. It’s based on phpfin, an ‘donationware’ program that is freely downloadable but you’ll need to host it yourself and do your own tweaking. GBIfin hosts the program for you, and also provides some enhancements to the original program as well as support. The company seems to be based out of the U.K., but I haven’t had any real issues (the only main differences I can see is the choice of different currencies, and the fact that the dates show as dd/mm/yyyy instead of mm/dd/yyyy.)

The program is pretty straightforward to use, just like with Money or Quicken you have to ‘build’ your accounts up first, which is a bit time consuming but you only have to do it once. You make your Accounts for each bank, and then you can either input your transactions yourself or import downloaded .qif or .csv files. The good thing is that both of these have been an industry standard format for years, so just about every bank out there exports your information in one of these formats. (Unlike with Quicken, where sometimes you just can’t download anything.). The downside is that you can’t sync automatically online with banks. However, sync’ing with Money or Quicken has been hit or miss so far, and not all banks offer it anyways.

When importing the account transactions, you must select a Category for the transactions – i.e. rent, dining out, utilities, etc. This helps in the budget analysis later. You can get reports on what you spend in each category for your chosen budget period, along with percentages. Here’s a screenshot that I took for a 2-day range. You can also set savings goals, and it’ll tell you how your doing.

Cost? It’s subscription-based, at ?2/month or ?15/year, which converts to about $3.72/mo or $28/year, darn crappy exchange rate. That’s not dirt cheap, but it’s not too far off. Money 2005 Standard costs $30, and you end up buying it either yearly or every other year.

Cons? Well, sometimes it feels a bit slow, the clock somehow reminds me of an old Mac spinny wheel. GBIfin also doesn’t all the bells and whistles that other software has, like the ability to handle stock/bond transactions or online bill pay, but it also doesn’t bombard you with ads while you are trying to balance your checkbook (like Money) or cripple itself after a couple years (like Quicken).

Pros? It’s simple and it works. It imports transactions. It’s available from any computer. It’s secure (https://). You don’t need to “reconcile transactions”, or deal with specific banks. It tracks your accounts, analyzes your transactions, and lets you see where the money goes so you can budget and control it. That may be all you need. I already have online bill pay anyways.

Should I try it? Sure, why not? They are offering the first month for free. As for me, it’s definitely in the running against Money and Quicken with me, but try it for yourself.

Comments

  1. I would also add another con to the list is that your personal financial information is stored on the provider’s servers, so you’re in affect relying on them to provide good security and to properly protect your information.

  2. Let us know what happens. I have used Quicken for years and have “settled” on it, though I’m open to change.

    BTW, instead of entering each item individually (latte, latte, etc.), I just do one entry based on categories (i.e. “food — $15). It saves a lot of time and gives just as good info when you do reports.

  3. Bubba, yeah that is a concern, although it’s mostly just your historical transactionso. You don’t even have to input account numbers if you don’t want. I’d be more wary of something like Yodlee, which stores all your logins and passwords.

    FMF, yeah you’re right, it’s not that bad. I just always seem to end up with a stack of receipts to input, which I put off, and then the stack gets bigger, which makes me want to put it off more, etc. I like to let the credit card company keep track. But it is really great to see how much you spend in each category at the end of the month.

  4. I love Quicken.

  5. Buppa, originally I also thought it is a con, storing everything on-line, but actually, I saw their security is the same than that of on-line banks, with an additional level of encryption added, which makes me feel quite safe. The only thing I was a bit concerned about was the fact that they are UK based. But that actually also has its benefits, due to the UK’s Data Protection Act, which mean that they can’t mess with you information in any way, otherwise they are out of business.
    I like the tool – no installation issues, no upgrades required and easy to use. I have converted all my Money stuff to theirs and now I do not have to buy the new version of Money.
    Also, I saw if you refer frineds, you can even get to use the tool for free.

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  1. [...] var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":false};It looks like GBI Home Finance Manager (previously reviewed) had added an US-specific version. The default currency in now dollars and the date shows Yankee [...]

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