[UPDATE: As of January 15, 2018, Power Wallet has closed shop. I encourage you to read my post on free excel budgets to see if there is a fee spreadsheet template that you can use for budgeting.]
No one will argue that Mint.com has been the leader in the online financial management sector. It has many great uses and lots of praise from users. New to the scene is Power Wallet. This website offers plenty of benefits including setting up a budget, managing monthly bills, and helping you to save money through local offers, codes and daily deals. Below is my review of Power Wallet and why I decided to give it a try when I was looking for a budgeting program.
Power Wallet Background
Power Wallet began in early 2012 as a beta, or test site. When the beta version was complete (meaning they fixed any major errors, issues and bugs from the testing period) the full site was launched in September 2012. But the idea behind Power Wallet was born way back in 2008 during the Great Recession. The creator saw how people where struggling with their finances and wanted to give them a simple and easy way to track their spending, save money and get ahead financially. After many years in development, Power Wallet was released to the public.
Signing up with Power Wallet is easy. First of all, it is completely free. To complete the sign up process, you need to provide the following information:
- Your full name
- Your email address
- Date of Birth (year)
- Zip Code
You will also need to set up security questions, confirm your email address and create a password. All of which is pretty standard stuff. Once this is done (and it only takes 5 minutes) you can begin using Power Wallet.
Power Wallet Features
Power Wallet is just like the other online financial management sites where it aggregates your accounts into one place. You can choose to link your accounts so that Power Wallet pulls the information from the financial institution websites or you can manually update and manage the accounts. Highlights of the site includes:
- Plan ahead and create custom budgets by categorizing transactions
- Get an overview of your current financial situation by seeing all of your online bills and financial accounts in one secure place
- Organize your finances and live within your means with spending limit alerts
- Create bank, credit, investment and cash accounts
- Manage and stay on top of your bills with bill pay alerts
- Bank level security and read-only access to your bank accounts
- Plan and budget on the go with Power Wallet mobile site
- Get deals and coupons that are customized to your geographical location (reason for entering your zip code during signup) and spending history
When you log on to your Power Wallet account, you start off at the Dashboard. This is an overview of all of your accounts, upcoming bills, your monthly income and spending and a handful of recent transactions. The layout of the dashboard (and the entire site for that matter) is very clean and well organized.
At the top of the page there are a few tabs including Accounts, Transactions, Cash Flow, Budget, Calendar and Power Savers.
The Accounts tab is self explanatory as the section where you can see all of your accounts as well as add new accounts. The accounts tab shows your current and available balances and has a link to transactions so that you can see transactions for a specific account.
The transactions tab is very useful in that it shows all of your recent transactions. At first, it just shows you all of your recent transactions. You can filter these by account, date range, spending category, and edit them as well in this tab.
Another feature is adding keywords to transactions so that you can easily find certain transactions based on those keywords. For example, you may have a wedding coming up. All of your transactions that are wedding related have the keyword “wedding”. At any point you can search by keyword “wedding” and see only the transactions related to your wedding and how much you have spent on your wedding planning thus far. How awesome is that?
The Cash Flows tab within Power Wallet is a super quick way to see a month’s worth of your finances at a time. It totals up how much money you had coming into your accounts (income) for the month, how much money you had going out of your accounts (spending), and what is left over. Below the totals it shows a breakdown as well. Below is a sample for June.
The next tab, Budget is where you will find your monthly budget, or where you will create your monthly budget if you haven’t yet set one up. You can select a month and see your income and expenses for the month as well as each spending category you set up. From there, you can expand each category to see what makes up the category in question. In the example below, you can see that a car loan and auto transportation costs total up the auto transportation category.
A great feature within the Power Wallet budget is that you can set up spending from month to month or over the long term. You may ask why this is important. Well, say for example it is December and you will be spending much more on gifts this month than any other month. You can create your budget so that it knows in December you will spend more on gifts than in other months.
There is a calendar feature as well that is pretty cool. When you click on the Calendar tab, you are presented with the current months calendar and you can see any alerts or upcoming bills due. By clicking on a bill, you will see the details about it (see below).
This feature is very convenient for me because I have a bunch of bills there are times when I question whether or not I scheduled a bill to be paid. Before, I would have to log into my bank account and scroll through the bill pay section looking for the scheduled transaction. With the Power Wallet calendar feature, I just look on the calendar and I know for sure that I remembered to schedule paying the electric bill.
Lastly, within this section you will see Power Saver deals. This section is broken out into four sections:
- Daily Deals
The Financial section is a listing of credit card deals. You can sort by balance transfer cards, gas cards, cash back cards, etc.
The Offers section is a listing of deals from all over the internet. You can search by category, such as clothing or electronics. Here you will find offers and discounts from various retailers including Amazon and others.
The Coupons section is simply that. A directory of coupons for you to print out. As of this writing, there are over 500 coupons listed!
The Daily Deals section are local deals based on where you live. Think Groupon and Living Social and this is what the Daily Deals section is.
Overall, Power Wallet is secure. For starters, they make use of security services from McAfee, VeriSign and TRUSTe. These are the same firms that most financial institutions use for online protection as well. They also perform daily tests on the site to ensure that the information is secure.
In addition to the above security features, Power Wallet does not store any of your information, making the site read only. Therefore, no transactions can be made from the Power Wallet site. What this means is that if your username and password are compromised, the person cannot do anything to your financial accounts. All they can do is look at the name of the institution and balances you have.
Of course, there is the chance that a hacker breaks into the Power Wallet site itself to try to access the encrypted usernames and passwords. While there is a chance of this happening, the likelihood of it actually happening is small. As I mentioned above, Power Wallet uses high grade security services.
If you are concerned with internet hackers, you should be more concerned with phishing scams. These are much more common than hackers breaking into websites and getting a hold of usernames and passwords. It just seems like it’s the other way around since the news only reports on the big hacks. In 2016, over $82 million was lost due to phishing scams. Again, these aren’t the attacks on companies like Target, these are email attempts to regular people who fall victim to these scams. This is much easier for the hacker than getting access to Target and Power Wallet.
So, the odds of Power Wallet being compromised along with your financial institutions usernames and passwords are not very likely. You should be more concerned with what websites you visit and what links you click on in emails.
Lastly, Power Wallet does not sell or share your personal information with anyone.
My overall thoughts about Power Wallet is that it is great. As I mentioned before, the layout is very clean and it’s super easy to navigate and find your way around. The one thing that I like best is that it works. I’ve used Mint in the past and always had errors when it tried to access my accounts. It became so frequent that I ended up refraining from using them and canceled my account. What’s the point of having an online financial budgeting tool if it never has up to date information? I don’t have this issue with Power Wallet.
There really aren’t any negatives that I can name. If you are frustrated with other online financial budgeting tools or are someone looking for a new online account management site to take control of your finances with very little work on your end, I highly encourage you try out Power Wallet. It’s completely free and a breeze to use.
Of course, I realize that the Power Wallet option isn’t for everyone. While it was a great fit for me at the time, I’ve moved on to another service called Tiller. It is a spreadsheet budgeting program that is automated to save me time. You can check it out here.
If you like spreadsheets for budgeting, then I suggest you look into free excel budget spreadsheets. That post has a handful of great options for you.If on the other hand you are more of automated type of person, you can look into Personal Capital. It is amazing for tracking your investments and the budgeting side of it has come a long way.
I know that budgeting isn’t fun or sexy, but it is important if you want to achieve financial security. The fact that Power Wallet is free makes it a no-risk option to try.
[Photo Credit: geralt]