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FiLife venture opens personal finance site

NEW YORK (Reuters) - FiLife, a personal finance venture from IAC/InterActiveCorp and Dow Jones & Co, will open its site to a public test on Wednesday after a year in development and much media speculation over its future.

The aim is to help consumers who want to improve their financial situation figure out how they stack up against their peers when it comes to income, household debt and savings.

FiLife enters a competitive market for personal financial advice, including large players like Yahoo Inc and sites like Mint.com that offer money management tools.

FiLife’s potential audience will likely include people who do not frequent finance sites, but would listen if someone suggested ways to pay less in bank fees or earn more interest.

“They have a nagging thought at the back of their minds: ‘I ought to get my wallet in order,’” FiLife President Dave Kansas told Reuters. “People want to know where they stand ... how am I doing and how can I get better?”

The site’s tools allow a user to compare their personal financial situation, based on eight parameters, against those of people in their state, city or even closer to home. Once that data is entered, the site responds with suggestions such as how to ask for a raise or how to put aside more savings.

Kansas, a former editor at Dow Jones’s Wall Street Journal and TheStreet.com, said FiLife would expand that to as many as 20 potential parameters over time, to give more specific information to users.

On a community level, the idea is to get users talking about and reviewing different financial products, from savings accounts to CDs and credit card offers, not unlike sites that already rate hotels or restaurants. FiLife’s business will depend on advertising and sponsored listings for financial products.

Media industry journalists and blogs have followed FiLife’s plans closely as it encountered several hurdles.

Since its owners announced the venture, Dow Jones was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. At least one prominent staff member of the small company left ahead of the launch -- columnist Ron Lieber, who took a position writing about personal finance for the New York Times.

Kansas says the site taps into the expertise of its owners, including links to personal finance and other articles from Dow Jones publications like the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, but operates on an independent basis.

FiLife also takes shape amid a weakening U.S. economy, but Kansas said financial concerns, from rising food and fuel prices to unemployment rates, should spur more people to take a hard look at how they are spending and saving.

“People will be trying to figure out how they can squeeze every penny,” he said.

Editing by Braden Reddall

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