Tools

Adaptu Alternatives

Over the years, I’ve heard more good things about Adaptu from readers than I did about almost any other software or tool out there. It seemed that people who used it really liked it. It was their partnership with Man vs. Debt during his RV tour around the country that initially got me turned onto them, and I could see what the buzz was about, though I never fully migrated over to the system.

At its core, Adaptu was a financial aggregator–one of perhaps hundreds that exist on the Web. All perform the same core functions–pulling all of your financial accounts and data together into one system, but what sets them apart is what they’re able to do with that data once they have it, and how well they fit in with your system, personality, and technological abilities.

Unfortunately, Adaptu recently announced that they will be discontinuing their service after February 20, 2013. All existing accounts and data will be deleted and Adaptu will be no more. A lot of people who have relied on Adaptu as their primary financial tool are now scrambling for what to do next.

Here’s my quick list of suggestions:

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Acknowledge that it’s over. Getting frustrated about Adaptu’s demise is fruitless and you’re in the same boat as thousands of other users.
  3. Back up any data you have inside Adaptu immediately. Export your transactions to an Excel file in case you ever need them again, note all of the accounts that you track in the system, copy information from bills and budgets, etc. Get everything out while the system is still live.
  4. Take stock of what you liked about Adaptu. What were the coolest functions? The ones you used most frequently? The ones with the most impact to your bottom line?
  5. Find an Adaptu alternative. More on that in the next section.
  6. Migrate all of your data as soon as possible to your selected system. Too much downtime can be harmful to your wallet.

The very nature of online providers is that they can disappear as quickly as they came. Adaptu’s closing is unfortunate, but it’s something you should be prepared for no matter what system you choose. You only have to look back a few years to remember how Microsoft closed down their MS Money unit and left swaths of people unprepared to migrate their data, but most eventually adapted and switched to other solutions.

Let’s look at those alternatives now:

Mint.com

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Mint is probably the closest thing to Adaptu in terms of availability, interface, graphics and functionality. It features account and net worth tracking, expense tracking, goal-setting, alerts, bills, budgets, graphing capabilities and “advice” about where to put your money.

Mint can link to just about every account you own, and I’ve found a higher success rate with using Mint than even with Quicken as far as bank compatibility goes. The charting and tracking functions are visually pleasing and comprehensive. For a large percentage of consumers, Mint will have everything you need to keep on top of your money.

Personal Captital

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Personal Capital is a system I recently discovered that’s relatively hot these days in personal finance circles. A few bloggers have described it as a “Mint for rich people.” Sort of. There’s definitely a heavy emphasis on investing in this system, with a lot of tools tailored specifically to optimizing your portfolio.

Like Mint, PC still gives you a complete overview of your financial picture, and they also offer an investing arm of the company and have established relationships with high-yield banks if you want to take your relationship with them further.

Quicken

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Intuit’s Quicken is the golden standard of desktop personal finance managers, and I’ve had a copy installed on my computer for the last 13 years. When it comes to managing your money, there’s almost nothing that Quicken can’t do, except the flexibility of being accessible on your mobile device or on a remote browser (something they’re starting to work on with the 2013 version).

One of the biggest perks of Quicken is the fact that almost all of your data is customizable in a way that makes it do exactly what you want, and that all your information can be stored locally without ever going in the cloud, a big plus for people worried about online security. Quicken can also connect to all your banks automatically to download transactions.

Your Bank

If you haven’t explored your bank’s online banking package in a while (besides checking balances and making transfers), now may be a good time. Many directly offer or partner with others who provide a complete aggregation package for all of your accounts.

It may not be as full-featured as something like Adaptu or Mint, but for basic users with only a few outside accounts, it may be exactly the level of support they needed.

YNAB

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You Need a Budget is a different kind of personal finance manager because it’s based on envelope budgeting, and it’s also a desktop-driven program (although YNAB 4.0 features a mobile app as well). For my full review and a $6 coupon, check out this post.

YNAB is best used by people who make a lot of budget-driven decisions or who have trouble budgeting for irregular or unexpected expenses. After setting up my new budget, I’ve stopped using YNAB for this purpose, but still recommend it to others.

Other Systems

The space is saturated with companies offering their own brand of services. Some of the other well-known names include LearnVest, HelloWalletMvelopes, MoneyCenter, and Buxfer, and Pocketbook.

Select your next system based on your personal goals, needs, and the features you’re really looking for. Understand that whatever system you decide to go with, it’s unlikely that it will exist forever…that’s simply the “new normal” for this space. It may evolve, devolve or be shut down entirely.

Useful as they are, personal finance packages can often be the least-profitable parts of a business. Many mentioned above are free and rely on affiliate or ad income to survive–something that may not be a steady stream of revenue.

Choose wisely and commit, but with a healthy dose of caution and redundancy.

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