Once more, there are ongoing changes in the personal finance space that I’ve become aware of. As someone who enjoys following innovation in the field of money, I was rather captivated by this article on Fast Company which covers not just the downfall of one promising personal finance site (Filife.com), but also takes the pulse of the financial online start up and business community.
What Happened To FiLife.com?
First, allow me to describe what FiLife was about: this site was a personal finance community that connected you with money experts and enthusiasts through questions and answers and many other forums. In a way, it was similar to another site that closed its doors, Wesabe.com.
FiLife’s content was organized as Answers (Q & A), Guides, Polls, Stories, Forums and so forth. While it was around, it struck me as a vibrant community with lots of interaction and commentary from its readers.
But here’s an interesting bit from the Fast Company story I mentioned earlier, that discussed FiLife’s closure:
Regardless of how the accusations play out, the disappearance of FiLife begs the question of why it’s been so difficult to get personal finance right on the Web. Every year, it seems, the Finovate conference bows a host of promising startups like Thrive, Wesabe, Geezeo Buxfer, Tile Financial and Rudder.
Thrive was rumored to have been shuttered in a fire sale to Lending Tree in February 2009, followed quickly by the departure of founder Avi Karnani. Geezeo dropped its consumer-facing services in January in favor of serving banks. The others — save for Mint.com — have failed to make much of a dent in terms of traffic or awareness. Why is that?
During one Finovate event, I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to meet Avi during a dinner they hosted after the conference. Then, I discovered later that he had moved on to another project. Quite recently too, I had conversations with folks from FiLife about their plans for the year. Heck, I even had some representation in their personal finance blog competition and was keeping an eye on its progress. 😉
So I was stupefied by the knowledge that FiLife had folded. I had no inkling, especially since just a few weeks prior to their announcement, I had actually tried to pry some information from them about future plans. So I can only wish the folks who used to work there, good luck and godspeed!
The truth is, it’s not a cake walk to run a viable business online or off. Sometimes you luck out, and sometimes, despite your most honorable intentions, things just don’t take off.
Mint.com Questions & Answers Plus Other Q & A Sites
With all that, I’d like to segue into an update concerning a feature that Mint.com had up and running for a while: the Mint Answers feature, where you can ask questions and receive answers from Mint.com’s community. Interestingly, this was Mint’s answer to FiLife’s service (since the latter had the original Q & A feature as its main focus). Well, it looks like even Mint.com eventually decided to shelve this particular community feature. With this functionality getting the thumbs down, we can only conclude that the Q & A concept isn’t really recognized as much of a value-add. Or perhaps it wasn’t worth the time and effort to maintain. It looks like user-generated content isn’t a rousingly popular or supported aspect of these sites and so they’ve been phased out.
However, there are actually a few other Q & A sites I’m aware of in the personal finance blogosphere, including Mighty Bargain Hunter’s Cash Commons, Pinyo’s Moolanomy Answers and LifeTuner’s Ask A Question section. You may want to visit all these sites to see if they’re still being supported.
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