Sunday, June 28, 2009

Buxfer: Free Online Personal Financial Adviser

The World Economy not in the great shape at the moment. But what can you actually do to fix the state budget? You can not also help the states, counties, and cities to improve the financial situation, jeopardized with the thinning stream of the tax money coming to the budgets due to the unfortunate economic situation. But you can definitely work on your personal budget to prevent and avoid personal financial crisis. At least, you can try, and the free financial services, proposed by Buxfer will be able to help you with this not very easy task.

If you do not have a program you use to track your accounts and cash flow and are looking to get started, a service you might want to look at is Buxfer. This free service combines all your account information into a single view you can use to track your entire financial picture without having to log into each different site. Buxfer automatically categories your purchases so you track what is going where. Additionally, Buxfer offers the ability to track group spending and IOU’s. This is ideal for roommate situations or where you are commonly sharing the cost of different services over time.

Buxfer is Verisign and McAfee secured so this service appears to be safe to use.

What can you use the application for?
Buxfer is a wonderful site that helps its users taking good care of their personal finances, including financial relationship among their friends and groups in a very easy manner. The concept of keeping track of one's money online has been coupled with creative and innovative methods to give the users a comprehensive overview of their monetary status. Buxfer lets it users set up budgets, know where and with whom they spent the money, who they owe how much, split bills, assign tags to transactions, settle accounts online, synchronize with different banks and credit card companies and access the service while on move via their iPhones, Twitter or a simple SMS. The users can not only get to read the detailed analysis of their expenses but also it is represented beautifully using graphs and charts. All these features make the service more attractive and interesting to use.

What is the history and popularity of the application?
Buxfer is something that originated out of need. The originator of the idea, Ashwin Bharambe badly wanted some kind of an application that could help him keep track of his enormous list of expenses and bills. As a result of all this frustration, he ended up writing up a program for him and his friends to manage the monetary affairs among them. The concept was a hit among the group and this prompted him to co-partner with his another classmate, Shashank Pandit, to build a website. It was launched in December, 2006 and that is how Buxfer came into existence. It is actually an amalgamation of two words- 'bucks' and 'transfer' (xfer, for short). The creators were desirous of giving shape to a concept which would make tracking monetary transfers easy, effortless and fun.

What are the differences to other applications?
As far as other services on the net are concerned, Buxfer stands out owing to its highly creative and visually attractive design. The graphs and charts of all kinds which are used to represent and categorize the money transfers are a sheer treat for the users. It has a large number of useful features and the interface is easy to understand and work with. Perhaps Buxfer stands midway, ahead of some and behind of a few.

How does the application look and feel to use?
Buxfer has a white background that helps in enhancing the color of graphs and charts displayed on it. The entire set up seems to be simple and elegant. Instructions are written in simple words and working on the site is fun. It provides a subtle and calm environment and the site does not seem to be crowded. Pie charts, bar graphs etc. make the appearance nice.

How does the registration process work?
Registering with Buxfer is simple. One only needs to provide his/ her email address and a password. The email address has to be verified within 24 hours. It takes a few seconds to move on to the next page wherein the new user is asked to set up the account by providing the name of his/ her financial institution and account nickname. Instead, one has the option to go directly to tracking finances with friends. Once there, the user can add friends, tag transfers, use analytics or view the summary of his account. However, registration is not mandatory here if one already has a valid id on Facebook, Open ID, Google, AOL, Yahoo or Windows Live.

What does it cost to use the application?
The gamut of services offered by Buxfer is free of any charge. They have a tie- up with Amazon to facilitate online money transfers. As of now, the site does not generate any revenue but it has plans in store to come up with a lead generation system for marketing purposes and adding special features for individuals and groups. There are no annoying advertisements to pop- up and neither are users bothered with marketing messages.

Who would you recommend the application to?
The site is highly useful and functional for students. It can be used by those who are still in college or by fresh graduates. It is specifically recommended to the younger section of the society. It makes splitting, managing, tracking the money easier and lot more fun for its young users. However, it restricts itself to somewhat simpler tasks. High- end financial planning and advices can not be expected here.

Buxfer Features
  • Detailed analysis using colorful graphs and charts and comfort to add tags, allowing for better visualizing where the money is spent.
  • Auto- synchronization with banks or credit cards accounts.
  • Creation of groups to make shared expenses simplified.
  • Spending controls by setting up budgets and mobile alerts.
  • An iPhone interface, an SMS-based mobile system, and widgets on Google Inc.'s iGoogle and NetVibes Inc.'s homepages
  • Online money payments using
  • Easy accessibility while on the move via iPhone, Twitter or an SMS.

  • Simple to setup new accounts.
  • Simple Gmail-like design: No overpowering colors or over the top Web 2.0 schemes.
  • Simple yet effective tabs structure: They keep it simple, but the options they give you are very useful.
  • Useful graphs and charts: Charts that give you good, useful information.
  • Balance and spending alerts: keeps you up to date on what money is coming in, or out.
  • Budgets: Ability to track and stay within a budget in one or multiple areas.
  • Ability to track spending for groups: track what you owe, or what others owe you. Also gives you ways to pay them.
  • Users don't have to provide login information for their accounts.
  • Provides mobile access in a variety of ways.
  • Problems in setting up accounts with some banks.
  • Limited options for investment and savings accounts: No simple way to setup 401k accounts or some other more advance savings options.
  • Clunky importing of data: Some data imports re-imported the same data as new transactions.
  • Free membership is limited to 5 accounts.

Video Presentation (Web Interface):

Video Presentation (iPhone Interface):

Sources and Additional Information:

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