Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mint.com Offers Free Online Money Management

Growing up, I remember my parents tracking all of their finances diligently. They would balance their checkbooks regularly, and utilize Quicken to keep track of their monthly and yearly budgets. Apparently budgeting is not genetic, nor is it a skill that I've picked up along the way.

I was reading through a magazine a few months ago, and I found a blurb on Mint.com, a web site that allows you to track your spending, bill payments, and account balances all in one place. I signed up for an account, and let me tell you, it is fabulous! Mint.com has you input your login information for your different accounts, and then it keeps track of everything all on one screen and let's you see your overall financial picture (my overall "net worth" isn't so hot right now). I can see where I am at with my car and student loans, my credit cards, and my checking and savings accounts. If you have investments, it will let you track those too.

One of my favorite features of the site: Mint.com catagorizes all of your transactions from your accounts, so that you can easily see what you are actually spending your money on. At first it was a little bit scary to see that one of the largest pieces of the pie in my pie chart was Food, but it has allowed me to be more realistic and try to cut out all of those trips to McDonalds and coffee shops.

Mint.com also provides some easy Budget tools, which then track where you are at with each budget item throughout the month. I also have mine sent to send me e-mail updates. Towards the end of the month, it will tell me "checking account has a low balance" or "you have overspent in X budget area." This has really helped me to be more conscious of where my accounts are at throughout the month. I also feel a lot less likely to have an overdraft, which is always a good thing.

One concern that you might have is security. I know I was a little bit scared when I first thought about storing all of my account information in one place. Here is a link to their privacy and security info, in case you are curious.

Mint.com is definitely worth looking into. And if you also have an iPhone, they do have a new iPhone application which can be purchased from iTunes. I know I'm going to look into it!


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