If you are like most Americans, not only do you have money deposits at multiple financial institutions, but you also have credit cards, 401k account and perhaps a stock market account. If you’re like me, you hate having to flip through multiple paper statements or web sites trying to get the big financial picture. You can use an installed application like Quicken or Microsoft Money, or you can try something fresh in the financial scene — Mint.com.
Although Quicken or Money might give you slightly more functionality, you have to wade through a lot of junk in order to get to what you really want it for — tracking and budgeting. I was previously a Quicken user. But quicken didn’t support all of my accounts. That’s the beauty of Mint.com — it supports an amazing number of financial institutions. All of mine are supported, including my credit union, both 401k accounts, mortgage, an IRA account and my stock brokerage.
Two other things make Mint a better choice for most consumers. First, it’s web-based. Now before you go off all scared about putting your financial passwords online, realize that online security breaches are so incredibly rare. It’s more likely that the server at the local restaurant will steal your credit card number than someone cracks into a server storing your financial passwords. It’s like the fear of flying in an airplane. The reason so many people are afraid is when it does happen, it’s fatal for a significant number of people. But statistically speaking it’s more likely for you to get in a fatal car accident. The benefit of it being online is the same with all online applications; automatic updates, access from anywhere and easier interface.
The second feature that makes Mint a better choice is the price. Free! That’s right, it’s free. They make their money by up-selling you to other financial services. For instance, I just transferred a significant percentage of my credit card balance to a “no interest for the first 12 months” deal, saving me a chunk of change. And the up-selling is rather non-intrusive.
Although Mint is quite feature rich, it’s still rather new and they are adding new features all the time. The main missing feature that I hope they add soon is the ability to enter your assets that aren’t specifically attached to an account (such as your home). It’s tough to see “Net Worth: -[large dollar amount]” simply because you don’t have your home value to counter balance your mortgage. The ability to enter your home information and purchase price (or recent appraisal) would provide a much clearer picture of your financial well being.
Go ahead, sign up. It only takes 5 minutes (depending on the number of accounts you have). There’s no commitment. You can delete your account at any time. But you might just like it and find it very helpful like I have.
Note to any Mint.com representatives reading this blog post. I’m very willing to accept any type of referral payment or other type of fee for such a great product endorsement.