It wasn’t long ago that whenever you bought a computer, it always came Pre-installed with a trial version of Microsoft Money, the company’s software for personal finance and home budgeting; and Intuit’s Quicken was the underdog. Today, Microsoft money nor longer exists;and Quicken has basically shut down. How did this happen? Blame it on their free online competitor iMint, a superstar of Web 2.0.

iMint effortlessly gets into all of your online credit card, debit card and bank accounts, retrieves everything you ever charged to your cards, to bring them to one place, one list, and just makes home accounting a pleasure.And since it is all online, in the Cloud, you can access your finances anywhere – there is no need to remain tethered to one computer anymore. Microsoft Money and Quicken saw no reason to stay in business anymore, when iMint could run rings around them for free; the parent company of Quicken has discontinued their product, bought iMint, and are in the business today managing it. Microsoft Money, in association with Citibank, is bringing out a new product, for free, pretty soon.

The Web 2.0 Revolution certainly has not past the personal finance world over. The desktop is no longer where you do your accounts: your cell phone, or other Internet device is. There are a host of other services around the finance concept too. Bill Minder,for example, helps you remember when your bills come due.Small business accounting software, is the next category of previously-immobile application to make the leap to the web. Xero, a New Zealand online accounting site, strikes most users as particularly smooth, eye-catching, and easy to use. It is early days yet for Cloud ERP. For instance, you can’t account for stock trades on these. But there is something about these services that makes accounting no longer dry, no longer just for the suits. It almost feels like a game to try your hand at.

So how do these services turn a profit?So far, it seems to be hard; you could always buy into their premium service. And then there are other creative ways, like iMint’s plan to sell its user-data, to third parties, with all identifying personal details removed. There are lots of companies that would really appreciate having detailed information on the shopping habits of people in general. So far, iMint’s track record of protecting its members financial information, is spotless. Perhaps, it can be trusted even when it tries to sell, information about all those members who made it this successful.

And as an aside, would you ever be interested when you were running through your figures, in knowing how closely you followed the spending patterns of your general income group, your friends in the neighborhood? Try the new online service, Bundle. Bundle gets its information from Citibank and other sources, and sifts through the data, to find out how Americans manage their budgets. Of course, financial institutions have always done this kind of number interpretation for years. But this should be the first time the details are available to lay people. You never get any personal information, but you certainly do get to know what everyone on your street spends, without identifying information, of course.