Website Review

by Mr. Cheap

I’ve been using Mint for about 3 months now.  For those who haven’t used it, it’s basically a website that consolidates all your accounts at other financial websites into one.  You can see your mortgage, investment portfolio, credit cards and checking account all at a glance.

Read the Canadian review

The Good

  • I’m a huge fan of measurement, and its role in enacting change in our lives.  Its really great that they’re able to show you all the info in one place, derive trends from it automatically, and prevent us from fooling ourselves (by “not counting” that one credit card that keeps growing or the stock account that’s dropped recently)
  • I liked that it tries its best to organize spending, but then you can override it and mark things as the appropriate category (such as “Income”, “Food and Dining’ or “Investment”)
  • The set-up is pretty impressive.  Given the variety of banks in the US, for them to have screen-scrappers set up for each (which is how I assume they get the info) as well as login sequences is something that I’d guess would have been a big pain to create and maintain.  It works well though.  My only problem setting things up was I forgot which “secret questions” I’d used at various sites, so I had to redo them all (so I’d know which to use at Mint).
  • They have notifications for worrisome situations  (an unpaid credit card, a checking account that’s low on funds, etc.) which are very handy, and make you wonder why the financial institutes themselves aren’t doing a better job offering similar services.

The Bad

  • A data breach for Mint would be disastrous.  I was nervous about trusting them with my financial info when they first debuted, but after months went by and no one reported any problems, I figured that I wasn’t in danger from the Mint crew themselves.  If their security ever fails them and their customers’ info falls into the wrong hands, its going to be very bad for both the company and their customers.  This is the exact info bad guys would love to get their hands on (all in one place).
  • While I get that it’s probably the revenue portion of their business plan, I found their “Ways To Save” section kinda lame.  Basically they show sponsored offers that will “save you money” (although the suggestions for me are all worse deals than what I already have.  It’s easy enough to ignore this section though.

Conclusion is a very convenient way to track your finances.  It’s an online service that will download your financial data automatically, which is the main difference between Mint and other financial software.

If you are looking for a different budgeting program, check out You Need A Budget Review.

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