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Wall Street Journal: Managing Money in Public

This article was written by in Internet, Money Management. 12 comments.


My former boss at the company I currently work for knows that I have a side interest that involves personal finance and the web. Obviously, I do not supply too many details to him as I prefer to maintain some level of anonymity on Consumerism Commentary, considering the personal information I’ve been posting since 2003. He contacted me today to make me aware of an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. (The article is available for free online, for now.)

The article addresses the trend of twentysomethings (I’m 31) sharing their personal financial information online using social networking websites. One of the social networking sites mentioned is NetWorthIQ. NetWorthIQ allows people to create profiles and update their financial standing every month. These profiles can be set to either public or private. You can even look at trends and comparisons between individuals.

Wall Street JournalWhile I like NetWorthIQ, I never got into using it much. I like keeping my information on my website, first of all. Also, I think the social networking aspect encourages comparisons between individuals or groups of individuals, which I’d rather not be a part of. I’m a fan of internal comparisons for tracking progress, but comparisons between people are almost meaningless. Also, balance sheet information doesn’t mean much without an income and expense report, which I don’t believe is supported by NetWorthIQ.

Nevertheless, I think it’s a great tool, especially if you want to take some of the work out of publishing your own reports.

The article also mentions Wesabe, which provides a way to access the information one might enter in software like Quicken from anywhere. The article didn’t mention Mint, which is still under testing, but it may turn out to be a better application than Wesabe.

Two additional websites sound interesting and are worth a look.

At other sites, such as the just-launched Covestor LLC, which allow investors to share their portfolio information, members manually input transaction data for their brokerage accounts or provide their account passwords to have the firm automatically track their trades. Members can choose to remain anonymous, and the actual dollar values of trades and specific holdings of each member always remains confidential, with only percentages displayed…

On Geezeo, members can create discussion groups with other users about specific financial topics. The site lets members create a consolidated view of their financial accounts and use text-messaging technology to get quick balance updates from their mobile phones. Starting this week, users will be able to provide feedback on financial products, such as student loans, credit cards or savings accounts.

The idea of tracking your finances publicly is gaining a lot of attention and popularity. I never thought this would be something that would catch on and have “mass appeal.” That’s the beauty of the internet — people with strange interests can come together to form communities, convincing those involved that their perceptions are “normal.”

Updated June 23, 2014 and originally published June 14, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mapgirl

GEEZEO stinks if you ask me because you need a Facebook account. Heck, I’m over a decade out of college. I don’t need or want a Facebook account at all. I was thinking of signing up to Millionaire Artist’s group, but now I can’t! BOO on Geezeo!

I’m not just saying that because Cap and Noah work at Mint. I really was going to sign up last night and couldn’t.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,470 (Platinum)

I was able to create an account on Geezeo and log in with my Gmail ID. I didn’t see anything on the site about Facebook. Perhaps I missed it somewhere.

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avatar Bonecrusher

People have been “talking stocks” since the Buttonwood Tree. Sites like Covestor.com make it easier to see if the advice and opinion are for real — or if you’re being sold a bill of goods. Why mess with message boards (a real free-for-all if you ask me), when you can decide if advice is worthby based on verified trades and portfolios, with performance measurement, too.

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avatar Ryan Williams

Hi Flexo, thanks for mentioning NetworthIQ and the article. I was pretty excited about it, understandably.

I do understand the concern about the social networking and comparisons (it’s a common theme today). But, think about it this way, personal finance blogs are essentially a social network where people connect, sharing their progress and advice, while learning ways to improve their finances from other bloggers. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with NetworthIQ, for everybody that doesn’t have a pf blog. Comparisons are a data point that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but I don’t think they should be discounted either. If you find somebody similar to you, and they have a lot higher net worth, then perhaps you can learn something from them to improve your own finances.

I’ll also note that we recently updated our site to exclude stale profiles, cleaning up a lot of fake profiles in the process.

Thanks again!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,470 (Platinum)

Ryan: Thanks for stopping by. You have a great point about learning something from others, the more positive side of comparisons. And congratulations on the latest mention in the WSJ!

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avatar Peter Glyman

Hi Mapgirl,

Sorry you hear you couldn’t get into Geezeo. You actually don’t need a Facebook login (Although we will be adding that feature :)). GMail works or you can just register with a new user name and password. Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions at pglyman [at] geezeo [dot] com.

Hope you try again,

Pete Glyman

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