[Update: Since Intuit acquired Mint the rate of innovation seems to have decreased significantly…I still use it occasionally, but not nearly as much as in the past. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a totally pleasing replacement for Mint…I use YNAB to do things right now.]
Haha. Got ya! Not that kind of mint. I use the web 2.0 application Mint to manage my finances – and you should too. This is the sort of service I have been hoping for for years! What is it? So glad you asked…
Mint is a website that allows you to centralize your financial management (and its free). Once you sign up you enter your login information for your various banks, credit cards, investments, etc. Mint does not permanently maintain this information – rather they establish a read only connection to your financial institutions and then throw away the keys (login information). This allows them to pull the latest information from your accounts – but they can’t make deposits or withdrawals nor do they even have the ability to find our your username/password since they throw it away. So, it’s a fairly safe system1It is worth noting that while many people are afraid of putting their banking information online, in my opinion we regularly engage in much more risky behavior. For example, handing that credit card over to a waiter who walks off with it. Talking about financial details over phone lines – which are unencrypted. Receiving financial information through the postal mail – unencrypted. Any site worth its salt (including Mint) uses encryption to protect your information – this is much more than can be said for many traditional technologies..
Once you add your accounts Mint offers a number of neat features including:
- Creating graphs and charts of your income and expenses. Allowing you to drill down into the areas where you are spending the most money and find unexpected drains on your financial resources.
- Monitor spending from month to month and automatically create budgets (or create one manually) that reflect your average spending.
- Receive notifications when bills are coming due, when new deposits are made to your account, or when rates on an account change.
Mint is a must have. It will make your life easier and help you manage your finances more wisely – I know it has helped me!