Freshen Your Finances With Mint!

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.

Mint Accounts

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.

Mint Alerts

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.

Mint Spending

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.

Mint Offers

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.

20 thoughts on “Freshen Your Finances With Mint!”

  1. I was really excited about Mint (and I suppose I still am…) and signed up for the beta only to realize that they only support banks in the US.

    While that’s of course logical, it would be great to have the service available in Finland as well :)

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  3. This looks promising, but you haven’t sold me that it does anything Quicken doesn’t do. And Quicken is not impossible to manage, I just started using it for all my finances and it does have some learning curve, but now that I understand some of it’s quirks it’s great. I was holding my breath when you said:

    “You must be saying that, Quicken does all this already. So let’s get to the useful part.”

    Then you mentioned stuff that Quicken already does. Except the SMS alert thing, as far as I know Quicken doesn’t do that.

    I thought this part was interesting:

    “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.”

    But is it really going to be better than the research I can do on my own browsing forums? I doubt it. Nice intro to the program though, thanks!

  4. Andrew,

    i think the overall benefit is the comfort involved. Yes there is quite a learning curve with Quicken. However it does need a lot of handholding on an ongoing basis. I used it for months and had to reconcile transactions each time. Mint is pretty simple. Auto categorization is pretty cool and does the job right.

    Secondly the savings Mint offers is very relevant to you as the user. For example it compared by Comcast cable bill and let me know that there was a cheaper option with Verizon FIOS. Similarly it offered me better credit cards with lower APRs. So very very relvant.

    So overall its the simplicity which makes this a winner. And of course its free!

  5. Abhishek, thanks for the detailed review and for your patience in holding it off! The rules of of TechCrunch 40 forbade advance coverage, so unfortunately we had to ask everyone to keep a tight lip. We really appreciate your understanding.

    I personally never liked Quicken, and I used MS Money ’05 extensively for awhile, until one day my database got mysteriously wiped out. This was after two hours spent categorizing transactions properly. Not fun.

    Obviously, Mint will work for some people, and Quicken will work for others. I personally understand why people use software like Quicken, especially if you need to manually input various type of transaction, etc. I compliment Mint with my own excel spreadsheet, and for some stuff, it’s just good to be able to “pencil and paper” it.

    Andrew made a great point though about research done on your own through forums like Fatwallet, etc. The point of Mint’s service is to eventually alleviate the time people need to spend to find better deals, services, and rates. We’re well aware of up-to-date threads such as Fatwallet finance forums’ “Best APY/APR, the daughter of the mother of all liquid banking…” threads like these managed by the community is extremely useful.

    I personally use to dig through these forums like these, or to find the best rate, best deal. And we’re well aware that the deals and better rates are out there. One of our goals is to minimize the time people need to spend to find these ways to save and make money. Let the software do the math and find objective, relevant offers to users. Sometimes these are sponsored offers, sometimes they’re not. Regardless, Mint shows only the ones that saves you the most money.

    I hope that gives a better sense of some of Mint’s goal. Thanks again for the highlight Abhishek, and thanks Andrew for the comment :-)

  6. @Cap,

    Thanks for sharing the thought process behind your service. Even if you guys had exactly the same feature set as Quicken, I would still pick you just for convenience and simplicity.

    I think end of the day, that’s what matters. Make it complicated for the system and easy for me as a consumer.

    Finally, I do like your revenue model around sponsored savings. It’s a win-win situation. I hope you have secured IP around it ;-)

  7. Like I said, I learned the basics of Quicken in a couple of days, and I don’t know how Mint would involve any less “handholding,” besides it’s more aggressive auto-categorization. Quicken does categorization as well, and is probably more accurate in the ones that it does do, while it seems Mint categorizes everything but makes lots of errors, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

    Like I said about the “offers” thing, it’s not really relevant for me since I frequent for all the best deals and services anyway.

    I got Quicken 2008 free after rebate, upgraded to Deluxe for $29.99, which I won’t have to upgrade from for 3 years, so that’s $10 / year. VERY cheap, and it has the added benefit of integrating with TurboTax and other features that Mint doesn’t have.

    And vice versa of course, I’m just sticking up for Quicken a bit. It’s not perfect, but it remains a good program.

  8. Cap, sorry I missed your comment. I think the “offers” thing is an awesome idea, and I look forward to seeing how it works when I get a chance to try it. So many people miss out on things like better credit card deals and stuff that people on Fatwallet all know about, and it is certainly easier to get “something” with Mint than to spend lots of time on Fatwallet figuring it out, so I see your point and I agree that it’s a great idea.

  9. I love the idea of Mint and signed up as a beta user a while back. However, I have not been comfortable with using it without the fear of someone hacking into my account and accessing ALL my financial info available under 1 roof! I read and re-read the why your data is secure on the Mint site several times, but am not 100% sure my info is really hacker proof. I face the same issue with my bank, but there not ALL my info is under 1 roof….I spoke to several other folks dying to use mint and all had the same concerns….Do you see that as an issue?

  10. @Dhana,

    Yes security has been a significant concern. Many people have reached out to me (after this post) about this issue. Mint has a page on this.

    However all said and done, I believe that it is up to the consumer to trust the service. Similar threats exist in most online services. For example Quicken has access to all my bank account and my personal tax details. They could be hacked too. However I as a consumer trust them. Same with Yahoo and Google.

    Mint is new in the space and is a small company and hence there are trust related concerns. Early adopters like me will jump in and once the service grows more will come in.

    So it all comes down with your comfort level with the service. I cannot vouch for Mint. If someone from that team is reading, please feel free to chime in. My recommendation if you are concerned would be to wait for sometime. Give them few months, which will probably be enough time to iron out issues.

    Hope that was helpful.

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