PFSN - Not a contagious disease, but possibly a hot new trend in personal finance

PFSN, Nothing to check yourself for. Just a little abbreviation I made up for a possible new personal finance trend prediced to pop up. Saw a recent article on PFSNs (Personal Finance Social Networks) on Google news recently. The article from the Intl Herald Tribune talks about how online social networking is meeting personal finance. If the experts are right, then there could be 2 million of these savvy personal finance social network users by the end of 2008.

The author mentions 2 sites in particular and It's an interesting concept that I look forward to learning more about over the coming months. It's like an online version of Microsoft Money (or Quicken) meets Facebook (or Weight Watchers). Jason Knight, chief executive of says:

"Social finance is a way for consumers to find out if there's real value where they're spending money."

The sites allow you to link to all of your online bank and credit card accounts. It can pool all this information and perform some data correlation and categorization based on what other users input already. This allows the sites to offer category suggestions and tips based on your specific expenses and entries in your financial data.

An online version of Money is a great idea, once people get past the privacy and security issues. Combine that with the encouraging support aspect of networking and sharing questions and advice with like minded members of your community could be a winner.

Etan Horowitz of The Orlando Sentinel wrote an article sharing his experience testing out three of these sites,, and Online Finance Help. He was impressed with the capabilities of the sites. He was especially impressed with

The best of the bunch is, which uses your spending history and favorite merchants to generate money-saving tips from other users or "Wesabeans" who have similar habits. If you spend your money on groceries or magazines, you'll see tips about saving money on these items. One user filled me in about $5 movies at AMC theaters before noon on weekends and holidays.

It sounds like there's a bit of upfront work, as is usual in any kind of automation. But it get's a little easier, according to Etan:

Uploading and categorizing expenses takes a lot of time at first, so you may get frustrated. But if you have the patience and want more control over your finances, give one of these sites a try. Both Buxfer and Wesabe will start to automatically categorize your repeat expenses after you do it once, so that makes things easier.

The original Herald article mentions other flavors of social finance that you may already be familiar with. Finance blogs like this one where we can interact with folks of like-minded finance goal interests to share posts and comments about topics of interest. Also social finance sites like,, and where networks of folks can join to lend and borrow money from fellow members.

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