LearnVest Review – Money Management For Everyone

LearnVest
  • Review of: LearnVest
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: August 14, 2015
  • Editor Rating

    Rated 3 stars

When LearnVest originally began offering its services, they were aimed primarily at women. Recently, LearnVest has been moving away from a gender-based approach to financial management. The web site has been undergoing changes to be more gender neutral. The financial management tools have always been just as applicable to men as to women, but the content on the site is undergoing a change. And now they’ve recently been purchased by another financial company.

As of March 2015, Learnvest has been acquired by Northwestern Mutual, a 160 year-old financial planning and insurance company. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the acquisition will bring increased reach for LearnVest.

According to a recent Forbes article, Alexa von Tobel, the founder of LearnVest commented on the acquisition stating that, “They have tremendous scale. We are going to take the innovative technology that has made LearnVest so special and we are going to be able to help scale it rapidly to another 4.2 million households. Not overnight but very quickly.”

What is LearnVest?

As with Mint.com, it’s possible to link your accounts so that your transactions are automatically pulled. It’s possible to manually enter transactions if you don’t want to link your accounts, unlike Mint.com. All services are free to use, and also provide you the ability to set up categories to help you get an idea of what your spending looks like.

Mint seems to have a little less trouble identifying your recurring bills and due dates, though. LearnVest relies on your estimates for recurring bills, and if you are into automating your budgeting application, Mint has a bit of an edge.

LearnVest - Lifestyle
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In a lot of ways, the two services are very similar. They offer breadth of accounts available, as well as detailed budget information that you can use to get a snapshot of your budget — and whether or not you are on track. LearnVest adds a little more to Mint, though.

LearnVest has an advice center, where you can get answers to questions, and LearnVest is also very active in offering basic education on such topics as finance 101, investing, and more. You can sign up for educational newsletters. Mint.com doesn’t have the same breadth of education, nor does it offer the same level of advice.

Features

Mint and LearnVest also both have editorial sections that offer interesting news and information.

LearnVest - My Budget
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You can get access to basic features and detailed budget information for free at LearnVest. You can also create your “Smart Budget” for free. Your Smart Budget helps you get an idea of where you are at. Enter your income, your expenses, loans, additional assets and liabilities, and your spending priorities.

Unfortunately, if you don’t want to link accounts, your ability to create the Smart Budget is a bit limited. I couldn’t enter spending priorities because a linked account is required. However, you can set up manual accounts with information you have, and that will allow you to take advantage of many of the Smart Budget features, including tracking your net worth, and tracking how much of your budget you have used up each month.

There are other budget sections that require a linked account, so unless you are willing to have it all automatically pulled, your budget view will be somewhat incomplete. You can also access the Free Financial Checkup from LearnVest. It’s a relatively new features that allows you to see exactly where you stand with your finances.

LearnVest - Transactions
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You can also access LearnVest on your iOS device which includes Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Android users are currently out of luck.

Pricing

LearnVest also comes with a paid option. If you want access to expert financial advice through your own dedicated planner, then this may be a good fit for you.

Currently, their pricing is $299 for a one time set up fee, plus $19 per month for ongoing support. It’s unclear as to how the acquisition will affect pricing in the future, but we’ll keep you posted.

Pros

  • Comprehensive Budgeting - The budgeting section is LearnVest's main focus.
  • Educational Articles - Has articles dedicated to help improve your finances.
  • Financial Planning Available - Need help with your finances? Can paid for a live fee-only financial advisor.

Cons

  • Lacks Investing Reporting - Unlike Personal Capital, LearnVest focuses on budgeting and their investing section is weak at best.

Summary

Overall, LearnVest is a decent free budgeting tool, and it comes with plenty of perks, paid and unpaid, that can benefit a wide range of women AND men.

Like Mint.com, LearnVest is all about budgeting with investing a secondary focus. If you are looking for investing reporting tools, we recommend Personal Capital instead.

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Reader Comments

  1. Terra Leigh says

    I’m wondering if you might know anything about the reliability of one versus the other. I’ve had a lot of issues with Mint not being able to connect to my checking accounts from time to time, and I know a lot of other folks have to (from looking at their Q&A areas). Do you know if Learnvest is using the same software?

    • says

      Hi Terra,

      At the moment we do not, but it’s really dependent upon your financial institution as well. Though maybe we can somehow do a test and create an article on it. Mint.com uses it’s own in-house software. Mint.com used to use Yodlee. I’m not sure what LearnVest uses.

  2. JM says

    If you link your credit card, how does it categorize what you spend…for example groceries, entertainment, gas, etc….Is that something you do manually?

  3. Jeff says

    How are Healthcare expenses treated? Fixed cost or as flexible? Payment plans for hospital visits would seem to be fixed while one off payments would be flexible. I ask because I did not see Healthcare mentioned bug it is the single fastest growing consumer expense. Thanks in advance for your reply.

  4. Becky says

    I am curious as to whether LearnVest has the Goal setting and tracking ability that Mint has. I really like this function, but am having problems getting a couple of my accounts to connect… grrrr.