Review of: LearnVest
Reviewed by: Miranda Marquit
Last modified: October 16, 2017
LearnVest is a decent free budgeting tool and personal finance app. It's an online app that syncs up your financial information in one location. Financial planning is available for an additional monthly fee. However, compared to its competitors it lacks investment reporting.
When LearnVest originally began offering its services, they were aimed primarily at women. LearnVest has moved away from a gender-based approach to financial management. The website has been made more gender neutral. The financial management tools have always been just as applicable to men as to women, but the content has been changed.
In March 2015, Learnvest was 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 brought an increased reach to LearnVest’s services.
According to a 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.”
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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.
You can also access LearnVest on your iOS device which includes Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Android users are currently out of luck.
What Is LearnVest?
As with Mint.com and Personal Capital, it’s possible to link your accounts so that your transactions are automatically synced into one location. All services are free to use, and they 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.
In a lot of ways, the three services are very similar. They sync up to a lot of accounts, 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. Personal Capital budget is only a minor part of their service.
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.
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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.
Pros and Cons
- Comprehensive Budgeting — The budgeting section is LearnVest's main focus.
- Educational Articles — LearnVest has articles dedicated to helping you improve your finances.
- Financial Planning Available — Need help with your finances? You can pay a fee-only financial advisor.
- Lacks Investing Reporting — Unlike Personal Capital, LearnVest focuses on budgeting and their investing section is weak at best.
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.