Wesabe are shutting down. Which is disappointing, more than annoying; I feel worse for the guys who ran it. Credit to them though, and confirming my belief that I made the right choice with them (even if they are closing):

  • They’ve always offered quick, painless data export - So I’ve not lost anything I’ve put in.
  • They are open-sourcing their code - If you are going out, do it with style!

At the time, I thought they didn’t have a business plan, but it turns out they did (And while it’s still around, the announcement from Wesabe themselves).

And on the face of it, it seems like a great idea: take a product built and tested on end users (lots of end users since it was offered for free) and sell to banks. Basically any financial institution could provide a Wesabe interface and functionality for their users with minimal implementation.

But then you’ve got to remember just how crap banks are. They don’t give a shit about their punters so they are hardly going to splash out the cash for something that benefits their customers more than them. Shame though as the banks could do with dragging into the 21st century: cough Smile the ‘Internet’ (?!) bank.

What next? I really don’t want to use spreadsheets again. And Mint is still 100% useless outside of the US. But I have found three new alternatives:

  • Pocketsmith (free and pay) - Looks interesting as they have a different (calendar) based approach and also focus more on forecasting - which is what I am most interested in. Whereas Wesabe was primarily analysing historical spending (although I managed to do limited forecasting with it using manual cash accounts).

    Giving these a whirl at the moment. Bit tricky to get going; Lots of screens, functionality, etc. Much steeper learning curve and so I am still trying to figure out if I’m using it right; for instance I have a forecast calendar (that is currently wildly optimistic) and a transaction calendar that shows what my bank balance currently is. I would have thought I should be able to get them to match up, well at least be able to use the forecast events to see how I will be next week, etc. But I haven’t figured this out yet. Perhaps I manually adjust the forecast balance for a particular day?

  • Greensherpa (pay only, but with 30 day free trial) - I’m not adverse to paying and they have good privacy (but here, I’ll talk more about Pocketsmith).

    I like how Pocketsmith do this: Have a fully functional free account, so gets you in and using it, but to make it really useful you have to pay to upgrade (so you can export data and add more than eight budget events, because eight isn’t really enough; although you can (and should) consolidate events - I.e. If all your utility bills come out on the 1st of every month then group the whole lot as one budget event and match all merchants to this one event. Utility bills tend to be fixed; it isn’t a ‘budget’ you really want to track).

    Also, 30 days can go by quite quickly. I’ve had an account with Pocketsmith for 12 days now, but haven’t had the time to use it everyday and so still haven’t figured it out.

    And lastly, Pocketsmith’s middle plan (the upgrade from Free) is cheaper than Greensherpa.

  • lovemoney (Free, supported through targeted advertising, etc - you have to fill out a profile to register) - Missed this one last time round. UK based with UK bank support. Can’t import data, but with automatic bank support I was tempted to try this.

    The good: Worked flawlessly with Smile and (I think) pulled in the whole last 12 months of transactions (all that is available). Also made some attempt to automatically categorise payments. You can also set the month start date (which I’ve done, but is now confusingly reporting me as being in the red - not figured that one out yet).

    The bad: No manual entry, not even a cash account so impossible to budget/forecast even on a most basic level like I did in Wesabe. But still, since it’s automatic, might just let this one run until they add more functionality and see if I can work out Pocketsmith in the meantime.