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moneyStrands Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (5 Reviews)

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Track your spending with moneyStrands online personal finance software

moneyStrands Spending Graph

Screen shot by Shelley Elmblad

The Bottom Line

08/8/2011 Update: moneyStrands has been updated and refined since I wrote this review, but it has lost the capability to automatically update account transactions. moneyStrands management has assured me that this feature will be re-implemented in a few months. See moneyStrands: Alive and Well for details, and consider other online money management apps if you need account aggregation (transaction downloads).

Have you used moneyStrands? Write a guest review.

Reviewed 06/02/2010
moneyStrands is free online personal finance software with money management tips and anonymous comparisons of your spending with others who share a similar lifestyle. There's also a handy moneyStrands iPhone app.

Score: 4.07 on a 1-5 scale
Percent: 81%

People with very simple budgets will like moneyStrands. While moneyStrands could use more variety of reports and navigation could improve, the new Cash account, support for multiple currencies and data export features bumps the review score to nearly to just over 4 out of 5 points.

Pros

  • moneyStrands provides an up-to-date snapshot of personal finances.
  • Web app is available in English and Spanish.
  • Supports 44 currencies.
  • Cash account and customizable News are excellent.
  • Exports data in CSV, OFX and other file types.

Cons

  • Some of the navigation could be more intuitive.
  • "Community" doesn't allow for real interaction.
  • Support search needs improvement; search the blog as well as support if you need help.

Description

  • moneyStrands offers up-to-date personal finance pie charts and graphs. Click on a chart for more detailed reports.
  • The moneyStrands app for the iPhone or iPod Touch loads reports and account updates quickly.
  • moneyStrands works best for people who have a few accounts and a simple budget.
  • Don't want to use automatic account updates? moneyStrands will import financial data.

Guide Review - moneyStrands Review

Working with Transactions
Like most online personal finance software, moneyStrands automatically downloads transactions from many banks, credit cards and brokerages. money strands also imports data after it's downloaded to your computer, and transactions can also be entered manually.

Transactions automatically categorize for budgeting purposes as they are downloaded. You can edit the assigned category and split transactions are easy to use, and you can create your own personal categories. Transactions can also be tagged to further define transactions.

Getting Around moneyStrands
To move around moneyStrands, start with the tabs at the top. The Analysis tab has budgeting and expense tracking, the Accounts tab gives a general view of all financial accounts, and the Just For Me tab holds special offers for online shopping, financial products and other items. I like how the advertising, necessary to keep moneyStrands free, is kept tucked out of the way.

Some navigation aspects of moneyStrands could be improved. For example, when clicking on a pie chart to further break down spending, I could not immediately find a way to back up by one level of detail. There is a 'back to start' button, but I did not want to start my analysis from scratch. Eventually, I found that I could back up a step or two by clicking on the upper left links within a "bread crumb trail". I probably would have gravitated toward using that trail right away if I could tell that it was composed of links.

Notable Features
The moneyStrands site says you can connect with other users on the site, so I expected to find some way to interact with others under the Community tab. What I found was the How Do I Compare graph for comparing my spending to others. Options for this graph can be edited to compare income and expenses based on very general to very granular criteria. Interesting, yes, but not really connecting with others.

One of moneyStrands' unique features is the ability to customize pages with widgets. I found two pages that could be widgetized: the News tab, where I could add RSS feeds for over a dozen financial web sites and blogs, and My Dashboard, where I could consolidate reports, tools and views found on under other tabs. Widgets under the other navigation tabs were baked in and could not be moved or changed.

Should You Try moneyStrands?
Given the look and feel of moneystrands and the simple financial reporting, this online application works best for those who are in their teens and twenties, which appears to be the target market. Others who have a few accounts and a very simple budget may find moneyStrands useful as well, but if you need more features, take a look at some online personal finance software or desktop financial software alternatives.

Set up a free, secure moneyStrands account

This review was prepared by setting up a free money.strands.com account in Firefox 3.5 browser and Windows 7 64 bit environment. For ultimate safety, do not to use moneystrands or access online financial accounts from public computers. If you must do so, be sure you log out, clear cookies and close the browser.

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