I have been itching to write about this service for past few weeks. I have been part of their beta test program and am managing my finances through their service. Unfortunately they had a press embargo and hence I couldn’t blog about them. They officially launched yesterday at TechCrunch40 and lifted the restriction on bloggers.
Mint is a new service, which is taking on the likes of Quicken and MS Money. I have been a long time user of Quicken and wasn’t quite happy with it. Not all my banks supported Quicken and it was too complicated to use.
Now Mint tries to simplify all of that. It has a very simple interface for adding your banks and credit card accounts. Within minutes I registered all my banks with the service. I must say that some banks require additional registration information like ING Direct, which can cumbersome at times. Once registered Mint automatically downloads all the transactions from the banks and stores it in the account.
Once you have registered all your accounts, Mint automatically organizes all the transactions into pre-defined categories. These categories help understanding the nature of the transaction. In addition to the categories the service allows you to tag any specific transactions with your own data. One can change categories can even set rules for transactions of certain nature. Very similar to email rules, but simpler.
You must be saying that, Quicken does all this already. So let’s get to the useful part. Mint automatically creates a neat dashboard of all accounts and summarizes your debts and balances. Mint also enables a neat feature to notify users by Email or SMS on various account activity. For example you can setup an SMS alert if your credit card was charged more than $1,000 or when a bill was due. It makes things very convenient. I know most banks provide this already. However having all this consolidated and a single service providing alerts makes this very easy.
Now comes the kicker. Once Mint aggregates all the information, it can create a very nice graph of your spending trends. These trends help you understand spending patterns in various categories like Groceries, Home expenses, Restaurants etc. In addition to the patterns it describes where you are spending the most in a particular category. Once Mint tracks these expenses, it can compare your current expenditures to prior months and alert you if you are spending more.
Finally Mint compares your expenses and accounts to find ways to save money. For example Mint compared by existing credit card rates with a better one and recommended one. Similarly it looks at other expenses like cellphone bills, cable, gas etc to find where one can save money. Over time it gets pretty useful and good way to save money.
Compared to Quicken and Microsoft Money, this is much better and moreover its free. They are making money by offering competitor products which save users money. From the time I have been using this service, I must say I love it. They have some issues to address, which I am sure they are working on.
So it was obvious that they won the $50,000 at Techcrunch 40. I am expecting lots of good reviews of this and many happy customers. They can only improve further from this point.
So go sign up and freshen your finances.