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Budgets Made Simple

This free site tracks your expenses and taps the insights of other users.

When tracking your spending, simplicity has its virtues. Software, such as Quicken and Microsoft Money, can gum up the works with unnecessary charts and forecasting tools. Now several free Web sites offer an easy way to keep tabs in one place on all your expenses. Wesabe is our favorite.


Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting

Put Your Finances on Autopilot

The site provides excellent security, which should be your top concern when you post your financial data on the Web. Unlike most money trackers, Wesabe doesn't ask you to disclose your account passwords. Rather, Wesabe software that runs on your computer keeps those passwords encrypted. When you upload data to the site, it takes only the information needed to help you budget. Your online account is stripped of personal identifiers, such as your name, e-mail addresses and credit-card numbers.

Once your expenses are entered, you can tap the insights of more than 30,000 users. "Wesabe lets me share the results of my own budgeting research," says David Knight, a 28-year-old software programmer in Greer, S.C., who has logged on since March. "And it lets me reap the rewards of everyone else's knowledge." For instance, Knight learned from his cyber pals how to get a better deal on health insurance for his infant son. The site also tells you what the average Wesabe user spends each visit and month at merchants such as Costco and Trader Joe's.

Wesabe, which launched last November, has its limitations, however. The site doesn't yet allow you to follow your investments, and investing guidance is sparse and elementary.