If you’ve used money management software, then you know how convenient it is to be able view your finances at a glance. But as convenient as these applications are, the drawback for many users (assuming they can afford to drop hundreds of dollars on the software) is the steep learning curve. Who wants to spend days reading the User Manual just to see a quick overview of your budget? I certainly don’t, which is strange coming from me since I used to perform software QA for a living. This just underscores that most money management software suites aren’t very intuitive or user-friendly.
What Is It
Mint is an online money management site that is not only free, but effortless to set up and use. Once you create and link your account(s), Mint securely connects to your financial institution (provided it has Internet banking capabilities) and updates your account information on a daily basis.
You can include multiple bank accounts, credit cards, and other investments such as real estate, and, Mint will not only track your budget, but based on your individual spending patterns, will also scan the Internet for providers to find the best deals for you for everything from credit cards to life & auto insurance.
With Mint, you can do everything you can with other money management applications except move money. Neither incoming nor outgoing transfers are possible, but don’t let that deter you from using it as Mint’s pros outweigh the cons.
How Can It Be Free
Mint makes money via referral fees from certain accounts you opt to sign up with.
How Secure Is It
According to the Privacy & Security section, Mint uses bank-level data security. For the security enthusiasts in the audience, Mint uses 128-bit SSL encryption and 24×7 physical security.
What About Privacy
Since you register anonymously, Mint doesn’t need your name or any other personally identifiable information. Mint does, however, need your banking username and password so that it can securely connect to your accounts. According to the Security FAQ, Mint encrypts your login credentials.
Who Owns Mint
Mint was acquired by Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) on 14 September, 2009. At the time of acquisition, Mint was valued at $170M. Prior to selling out, Mint was created by Aaron Patzer in 2005.
What Will It Do For Me that My Bank Won’t
While I am not particularly enthusiastic about plugging a product for free, I feel obliged to share Mint with the readers of this blog for a single reason. If you’re still doing business with a “too big to fail” corporate person thief bank like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, et al. then you will need all the tools you can find to help keep an eye on your accounts so that you aren’t screwed by the bank resequencing your debits and withholding your deposits to generate overdraft fees for itself.
Up until this past weekend, I had been on the fence about Mint and did not see any especially compelling reason to use it. Although I had set up my accounts last year, that was the last conscious thought I had about it. Mint was not providing any feature that I could not get from my existing bank’s online account management website. Or so I thought.
But thanks to the bank’s ongoing practice of astounding ::GREED:: and consumer screw-overs, Mint alerted me via email to surreptitiously assessed fees that I would have never found on my own which is quite disconcerting to me since I’m one of those people who not only keeps a wary eye on my accounts, but actually reads through and keeps the bank’s Terms & Conditions and other periodic announcements (such as the recently enacted overdraft laws.)
But even with all of the special email alerts I had set up on the accounts, I still would not have found the fees that were removed from Savings that Mint did. As a general rule, I don’t touch that account except to deposit money, therefore it did not occur to me to check for any outgoing money. The only event that triggers an alert for such an incident is only when you transfer or withdraw the money from that account.
As an aside here, allow me to point out the irony of the ability to set up an email alert from the bank’s website for every dollar that moves out of your account except those removed by the bank itself.
The fact that Mint caught hidden fees that were assessed on my account by the bank (erroneously, as it turns out) is all the persuasion I require to plug and/or use the product.
I highly recommend using Mint if you’re stuck using a thieving bank run by white collar criminals such as the kind found here whose executive officers are currently enjoying million dollar bonuses courtesy of taxpayer bailouts.
If you enjoyed this article, see also The Last Straw.
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