CountAbout Review: Easy-to-use Personal Financial Planning and Budgeting Software
Budgeting can be a nightmare. Especially if you don’t have the right software (or any software for that matter).
I remember years ago how horrible I was at budgeting. I thought that as long as my bills were paid and I had money to live off of, I was good to go.
But then I started tracking my spending and learned that I could be spending a lot less, and saving a lot more.
What a reality check that was.
I used Mint at the time, but personally, I found it limiting. It always seemed to lose a connection with my bank, and it was constantly hit with ads to sign up for a new credit card.
CountAbout is a new option in the cloud-based budgeting space–looking to give the likes of Mint and Quicken a run for their money.
In this article, I’ll review CountAbout and its features, as well as the pros and cons of the platform, so you can determine if it’s right for you or not.
What is CountAbout?
CountAbout is a budgeting tool, similar to Mint, that was developed to help you manage your money more effectively. A cloud-based tool, CountAbout allows you to focus on where your money is going and guides you to develop a budgeting strategy for where your money will go in the future.
You can manage your money on the go with CountAbout, as it’s an app (whereas Quicken is only desktop-based), but you can also get CountAbout from your home computer, too. You can also migrate your data seamlessly from Quicken or Mint, so you don’t have to work through any major complications on that end (more on this below).
The platform is completely private and secure, and it automatically imports your financial information, so all you need to do is manage your money.
How Does it Work?
CountAbout was developed with ease in mind. The platform will automatically download and import data from your banking, credit card, and investment retirement accounts to give you a holistic view of your money.
There is no software to install either. This means that anywhere you can get an internet connection, you can connect to your CountAbout account and have a view of your financial situation.
When you first log in to CountAbout you’ll see the transactions tab–similar to Mint. From this screen, you can set up accounts to import (like credit cards or bank accounts). You can edit transactions and add categories or tags on this part of the app as well.
To put it simply, and for those who have never used any type of budgeting software before, you can see every transaction that you’ve made in the duration of whatever time period you choose to import. This allows you to tag purchases in certain ways (like a “groceries” category) and build a budget around it.
CountAbout is loaded with options when you want to dive deep into your spending patterns. You’ll find a bunch of different graphs you can create to more visually understand your spending. For example, if you want to create a chart that tracks your spending versus your earning (a key stat you need to know if you want to be successful with your money–don’t spend more than you earn) you can easily run that report and create a graphic around it. While you may not be happy with the results (i.e., you might be spending more than you earn), it’s great to see it visually, as sometimes just looking at the numbers doesn’t register (pun intended :)).
There’s no shortage of what you can do in terms of managing your spending, as the customization of the platform is endless. You can create budgets however you’d like, set up transactions to be “memorized” for when they happen again, and even split transactions (which is nice if you shop at a place like Target and you buy things that fall into multiple budgeting categories).
There are quite a few features that you’ll find once you sign up and log into CountAbout, but here are some of their more exciting features:
1. Easy Import
Many people have used Quicken and/or Mint in the past to track their spending and create budgets. If you have, you don’t have to start over because CountAbout will import that data with ease. Once you log in, there are options to have it done automatically for you. In addition to importing from Quicken and Mint, you can easily import transactions, both from the past and in real-time, from over 12,000 financial institutions. Gone are the days of manually inputting and tracking every purchase you make.
2. Robust Reporting
If you’re a data nut, you’ll love the reporting features that CountAbout offers. You can run reports on pretty much anything within the platform, including account balances, category activity, and tag activity. Depending on how creative you get when setting up categories and tags, you could theoretically see something like how much you’ve spent on groceries at Target in the past 90 days. That’s pretty cool.
You can also export your reports if you want to move it somewhere else (like Excel, which gives you access to more unique financial formulas).
Security is always a concern when you’re working with financial data–especially when it’s automatically imported and the platform is cloud-based. Those words tend to scare people, so I thought it would be beneficial to call out how CountAbout looks at security.
CountAbout actually uses a third-party service, called MX, to connect you with your financial institutions (most, if not all, cloud-based budgeting services do this now). What this means it that CountAbout will never keep any of the usernames, passwords, phone numbers, addresses, or account numbers you input in their system.
The only thing that identifies you as you is the encrypted email address that CountAbout keeps for your login information. And speaking of logins, CountAbout uses a two-factor authentication process (you can opt out of this if you’d like, but I don’t recommend it). This means, for example, that you have to input a code you received via text before entering your password to log in. It can be a pain to take the extra step, but two-factor authentication is making it harder and harder for anyone to hack into your secure accounts, so I’d strongly encourage you to take advantage of this.
Unlike Mint, which uses ads to keep their software free, CountAbout charges for their service. They have two options:
- Basic – $9.99/year – You get full access to the platform but you cannot automatically import transactions.
- Premium – $39.99/year – You’ll receive full access to all features CountAbout offers, including the automatic download and importing of transactions, as well as the seamless import of data from Quicken.
Both pricing options come with a 15-day free trial.
Before you scoff at the price, remember that a platform like Mint is loaded with ads. When you sign up for CountAbout, you enter into a nice clean and intuitive platform that’s not buggy or loaded with advertisements. I personally hate it when my budgeting software is trying to push me to sign up for a new credit card–it seems counter-intuitive (and annoying).
If you read the customer testimonials on CountAbout’s website, too, you’ll find that nobody has an issue with the cost. In fact, most say the product is great and the cost is totally worth it. But this is a decision for you to make.
Who it’s For
CountAbout is a great option for people who can create and stick to a budget, and like to access their personal financial information anywhere they go. A word of caution, if you’re going to sign up and not do anything with the information, then it will be a waste of money. I know plenty of people who like to know where their money is going, but don’t intend to do anything about it–to me, this makes no sense.
I was one of these people years ago. I thought that as long as my bank account didn’t overdraw, I was fine. But once I started analyzing my spending and truly budgeting my money, I was able to see dramatic shifts in my spending (going down) and my saving (going up). But you have to put the work in.
Budgeting requires work. You have to get in touch with your money, analyze your spending, and make changes to start spending less and saving more. So if you’re up for the challenge of creating a budget and working a little bit to manage your spending, then CountAbout is a phenomenal option to consider. It’s ad-free (due to the relatively inexpensive cost) and can go super-deep into your spending patterns for you to determine how you need to adjust your budget.
- Importing abilities – It’s easy to import transactions from Mint or Quicken, and you can automatically import new transactions in real-time.
- Reporting is stellar – The reports you can generate with CountAbout are excellent, and they’ll let you nerd out on your financial data as much as you’d like.
- Ad-free – Unlike Mint, there are no ads on CountAbout since you have to pay for the platform
- Security – CountAbout relies heavily on security to ensure your personal and financial information are protected.
- Access anywhere – With the CountAbout app and cloud-based service, you can get access to all of your financial information and budgets wherever you can get internet (which is basically everywhere now).
- Data editing – You can modify your categories, tags, and labels however you want, which allows you to create as unique of an experience as you desire.
- It costs money – This is obvious, but there are free options out there that do similar things.
- You can’t pay bills – Other budgeting software allows you to pay bills through the platform–CountAbout does not.
- No investment tracking – Personal Capital does a great job at tracking and managing your investment portfolio–CountAbout doesn’t have this feature.
The main alternatives are Quicken and Mint, which I’ve discussed already. Quicken is desktop-based and has gotten a reputation for being cluttered and wonky to use. Mint is very similar to CountAbout, but it’s free (it does have ads). The two other options I would consider if CountAbout isn’t for you are Personal Capital and YNAB.
Personal Capital does a great job with money management and (even more so) investment tracking and management, and it has a robust set of charts and reports you can use.
YNAB is much more of a budgeting tool. It’s designed to manage your spending by allocating funds you already have into categories–and people who use it as designed (me included) have seen a lot of benefits. Where YNAB severely lacks is reporting–so if you want to dive deep into data, it’s not for you.
CountAbout has quickly gained momentum as a new option for budgeting and managing your money on the go. It does come with a price tag, but with the features you get, as well as not having to worry about ads, it might be worth it for you. If you are someone looking to get a better grip on your spending and you’re willing to do something about it, definitely check out CountAbout–especially because you can try it risk-free for 15 days.