Everyone should have what I call Total Situational Awareness where their money is concerned. If you are like me and either have or plan to have savings accounts all over the place chasing the best rates for your money, then it can be hard keeping on top of where your money is, and what it is doing.
Throw in the odd current account or 3 and credit card or 3, and things start to get really complicated.
If something is difficult then it’s just human nature – we’re unlikely to continue doing it. Money management therefore needs to be above all else: simple.
The old method was by statements, but this wasn’t very dynamic, and didn’t make projecting easy at all. It merely looked backwards. Spreadsheets came next, first in Excel and more recently in Google Documents.
Then Web 2.0 hit.
Folks in the USA have a cool service called Mint.com. It’s a total money manager or account aggregator, and once you get over the initial fear of giving some random company your login details for your banks and cards, you start to realise just how valuable their service is. It accesses all your accounts in the background and provides you with a complete overview of where you stand; All your debts, all your savings, what’s left in your current account, how much you’ve splurged on your credit cards, and how your investments are doing.
It negates the need to login to 3, 5, or 10+ different financial providers and instead gives you a one-screen view of where you are right now.
The downside of Mint? it doesn’t work for us in the UK.
You Have Mail
An email arrived this morning from a guy called Scott who’d seen my blog, noticed the target market, and wondered if I’d be interested in their service. Ordinarily I’m not too keen on unsolicited commercial contact, particularly from marketing companies, but to his credit he had clearly read my blog, knew what it was about, and bothered to find out my name and my circumstances before writing.
This wasn’t your average spam run, but a hand-crafted contact. I don’t mind those at all.
Mint I can understand, after all money gets minted. But Kublax? What the heck is Kublax? I’ll let them explain:
The word Kublax is a combination of “Kuber” and “Laxmi”. In Indian mythology, Kuber is the god of wealth and Laxmi is the goddess of fortune, riches and splendour.
OK, that’s a bit random, but I can see it catching on with time. After all I thought ‘Ubuntu’ was a silly name for a Linux distribution, but it is now one of the most popular in the world.
It’s essentially a UK-version of Mint, and I have to say I’m thrilled. I’ve only just created an account so all I can offer right now is my first impressions, but rest-assured I’ll be revisiting this topic once I have played with it some more.
Interestingly, Kublax isn’t a 5-minutes-ago startup, either. It was one of the 2007 SeedCamp winners and officially launched September last year.
I always make a point – particularly with these kinds of services – of reading the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies. I’m pleased to report that I can’t find any surprises. It does what it says on the tin, they won’t sell you out, and won’t share your details with the mafia. UK Data Protection laws apply as I’m pleased to see their service is hosted in the United Kingdom (at Rackspace no less, for the geeks amongst us).
The signup process couldn’t be simpler. They don’t even want to know your name. Just supply an email address, a password, a bit of demographic information and off you go.
The site itself is clean, well presented, easy to use and above all fast. There’s a useful introduction video to show you the highlights, and more information available if you want to convince yourself a bit further.
When you first login, it prompts you to start adding accounts. I skipped this step – just to be difficult – and started browsing around the tabs instead. There is a lot of potential here if you use it right. You can set up budgets, budget alerts and compare your debt repayments (anonymously) to others around you to see if you’re paying more than you should be, as well as the more traditional side of money management of seeing where you stand, how you are doing and where you seem to be heading.
This is where they make their money. Kublax is free to use for the ordinary consumer. It’s essentially commission driven and their aim to sell you financial products you might find useful. I can live with that. It’s unlikely they’d know better what I need than I do, but if it makes the service free them I’m happy.
Their suggestions might surprise me down the road, and in general it’ll be useful for those who are not keen on spending their life researching finance like we PF bloggers do! If they make some commission out of me, who am I to complain if it fits my money goals?
Some Interesting Statistics
One of the services I find most interesting is the ability to compare your spending with other nearby individuals based on country region. Alternatively you can get an overview of the average spend of the entire country.
You can do this on aggregate as above, or to your own spending. Guys, do you spend more on cash withdrawals for impromptu nights out than the average? Girls, is your shoe budget getting out of hand? Kublax can tell you all this and more.
To Be Continued
This is just a first look at Kublax. I’m going to start using it and I’ll come back to it in a few weeks and months after putting it through its paces. If you’re cutting edge, come and sign up and we’ll do this together. If you’d like to play it safe and see if they empty my bank account before diving in, then keep checking back.
The Kublax Review is to be continued…