Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review nor have I received any incentives to review Hello Wallet again. I am simply what you’d call a hard core user of personal finance management tools. I’ve reviewed Rudder, Mint and Yodlee in the past (and use quite a few more that you don’t read about here) often stacking each PFM tool against each other to give readers my perspective on how these systems might meet their needs. Hopefully, this review will give you a fresh perspective on Hello Wallet. Why another review? I love when personal financial management (PFM) systems pivot according to the needs of their users and it would seem they are moving in the right direction as opposed to when they first launched.
Hello Wallet recently made quite a few improvements and changes in addition to launching an Android app which jump started my interest in taking another look. Upon first glance, I said to myself, this new iteration has the potential to be a solid contender with Mint and Yodlee combined given the plethora of tools and the user interface design.
That said, I probably don’t do enough of these reviews because I can usually tell who is here to stay and gain traction with their intended user base. So many PFM tools come and go: Rudder, Moneystrands (they are dead without account aggregation), Thrive, Wesabe, et al. My usual starters are account aggregation, budget reporting and (net) bank balances on demand otherwise known as “What’s Left To Spend”. Mobile apps typically come after the user base has been built so that isn’t a deal breaker for me, initially.
See my previous review here.
What I really like about Hello Wallet is that it is devoid of some of the games that other personal finance management tools force users to play. My assumption is that the intention is to make personal finance a game rather than a core essential life management skill which is understandable if you hate managing your own money.
But that doesn’t solve the problem.
Giving the user an instantly intuitive interface will. Hard core users like myself know that we aren’t looking to play a game or earn points. We’re here to create a solid budget and get information on demand about our spending while working towards our financial goals. So when I sign up, I don’t want to see anything about getting points for logging in and creating a budget, this isn’t Foursquare. This is my money and I need actionable information on demand. Not points. Mint.com continues to dominate this area because they give users the information they need and happens to be best free way to manage & grow your money.
Easy and Intuitive Sign Up Process
There were some minor issues during sign up with my banking website address but that seemed to be resolved immediately behind the scenes. Usually I have to email and wait for customer service to get back to me but this was fixed pretty much immediately. This can take days with Yodlee.
Once you sign up, the following prompts appear which makes getting set up a cinch:
- Enter Income
- Load Accounts
- Enter Bills and Expenses
What I Love
- Bill reminders
- Transactions are editable
- Budget categories are customizable
- Flags for Reimbursable and Tax Deductible
- Customizable To Dos
- Allows For Account Selection (instead of importing ever account which isnt necessary)
- Action Steps:
- Make More Money: This is something that’s actually very useful, especially the section on how to make more money. As PF bloggers, we often discuss ad nauseum how to budget and save with very little on how to make more money because that’s the key to building wealth, not clipping coupons.
- Rainy Day Goals: I really like that I am able to attach actual accounts to financial goals. This isn’t always executed intuitively in other PFM tools.
What Needs Improvement
- Date range function should be added to the transactions page
- Automatically rename transaction names when they show up based on preset criteria
- Option to hide certain transactions like internal account transfers
- Ability to run various spending and budget reports. I like being able to slice and dice my financial information 10 ways to Sunday and this function is limited. Yodlee masters this function.
- Trends section could be more intuitive because I can’t figure out how to make sense of it given how the graphics are layed out
- Budget section needs a date range. This is because while my paychecks officially arrive on the 15th and 30th they actually hit the accounts on the 28th and 13th. So if I’m looking at July’s budget then the paycheck that arrived on June 28th won’t show up as income for July which screws up all calculations for that month
- Goals don’t recalculate properly when reassessing the monthly contribution after the initial calculation. This may have been a temporary glitch
- What’s Left Spend: This section needs to be more specific as to how much left to spend for …. what period? Is this 2 weeks? The month? This week? How do we know how much is left to spend until the next paycheck? This also doesn’t update on the Android app for some reason. But I’m hoping this is just a temporary glitch.
Add cash flow forecast tool. I absolutely loved this feature in Rudder and created this within my own customized Excel sheet. Hopefully Hello Wallet moves in this direction down the road.
Hello Wallet shows much promise with the new developments, especially the addition of the Android app. But there seem to be some ongoing glitches indicative of growing pains with their system. The Android app needs to update on demand (when I click update) and the issues note above need to be resolved to make it a smoother user experience.
I am really looking forward to the Android app glitches to be fixed because I love the “What’s Left” in each budget category feature. If that updates accurately when I open the app or when I click update then I’d be in heaven! Still, I remain hopeful, because of all the other functions which promise to give users a rich personal finance management experience. My recommendation is to go ahead and try Hello Wallet for yourself to see if the wealth of tools fit your financial needs. I plan to give them another try in 30 days and I will report back.