Talking Tech Friday – Mint.com

Budgeting has been uppermost in my consciousness this week, so today I’m going to review Mint.com.

What is it?

Mint.com is a free, online personal finance application that aims to streamline your money management by making it easy to set up and track your finances.  You can see at a glance where your money is, where it went, and where it’s going.  Mint.com also offers suggestions for savings.

How does it work?

Register for Mint.com by entering in an email address, zip code, and a password.  Next, you enter in usernames and passwords for your bank, credit card, or other financial institution in order to import the data into Mint.  I should mention that Mint claims this information is secure: they say that usernames and passwords are not stored at Mint, and that they use bank level data security (their privacy page).  If you are comfortable doing online banking, Mint is probably just as safe.

Once you’ve imported your financial data, Mint will synchronize with your accounts each night, so the data is always current.  Mint assigns editable categories for your transactions and notices trends in your spending, so you know if you spent more than usual on groceries one month.  Mint.com sets a budget by category based on your spending history, which you can adjust and track to make sure you hit your target.  You can also set up account alerts to be received via email or text message to let you know when you have a low balance, due payments, excessive activity, etc.  You can drill down in your spending habits, so can track how much you spend at Starbucks every week.  Another interesting feature is that you can compare your spending with national averages (of Mint.com users), or even locally – so I can tell if I spend more on Starbucks than the average Phoenician (the answer is no). You can also filter your transactions, and search for a particular transaction.

The Trends tab provides you with an overview of your spending in an attractive pie chart that you can view by the current month, last month, or by overall activity.  Clicking on an individual pie wedge breaks it down further, so if you look at your Food & Dining wedge, it will create a new pie showing the relationship between eating out and groceries.

Finally, Mint.com looks at the activity across your accounts and offers suggestions on savings through various offers, some of which are Mint.com partners, and some who are not.

For more information, here’s a video demonstration of Mint.com.

Mint.com offers a few more perks – they have a recently released iPhone application.  They also have lots of money management tips and a blog that offers eduation about personal finance – a great resource for people who need help learning how to budget and save.

Possible Library Uses

Since Mint.com is a personal finance tool, it’s mainly a great resource to show to patrons.  Many people don’t have the time or inclination to use tools like Quicken or Microsoft Money, or perhaps are looking for an online solution to manage their finances on more that one computer.  In any case, in this precarious economy, anything that helps us manage our money better is a good thing.

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~ by Anali on January 30, 2009.

One Response to “Talking Tech Friday – Mint.com”

  1. Great review! I just downloaded the app for my iPod touch.

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