A while ago, I stumbled upon a site called mint.com. I signed up for an account, but after that I was leary about submiting my personal info for all my banks to it. So I kept an eye on it and watched the forums. One of the guys here at the office told me he had been using it and really liked the way it worked, then a couple weeks later, mint.com hit the front page of digg.com and there was a very large discussion about the security of such a site.
Come to find out they actually use an outside firm to handle the verification with banks, which is also used by the likes of Charles Schwab, T.Rowe Price, etc. So I decided to sign up. I’ve now been using it for a solid two months and really like it.
They are still technically in a “beta” phase, but who knows how long that’ll last. IE, some of Google’s stuff is in a perpetual beta. Anyways, they have nearly everything I could want in a system like this. The site basically looks at your most recent transactions and imports them from all your accounts. You can then categorize them, exclude them, add notes, create a budget, analyze your spending in categories and over all, search for past transactions, etc. It’s all very very cool.
Here’s what the transactions page looks like:
When you click on one of the transactions in the list, it will then pop out a box on the right which will let you enter notes, see details about the expense and some really neat statistics such as your total purchases there, average purchase cost and average spent per month there. It also compares you to the national average for that retailer!
When mint imports a transaction, it tried to automatically categorize it. But you know computers, they are not always right. So you can create rules that certain transactions should always be categorized a specific way. For example, it kept trying to categorize my Gas utility bill as an Auto Gas/Fuel expense, so I created a rule and now it gets it right all the time!
They will even email or txt you alerts when certian things happen. Ie if a large withdrawl is made, or you get close to $0 in your account, when you are close to your bill due date, etc. Here’s what the budget screen looks like:
You can see at the top the alerts that are currently active. You can adjust at what dollar amount each alert goes off at, and even have different alerts and thresholds for your email or cell phone txt alerts! Below the alerts, you can see the budget. The line is where you are in the current month and then you can see how much you’ve spent, what you are over and how much you have left! It’s all very cool. Since we aren’t that far into the month, you can see I haven’t spent very much money. But sadly, I’m WAY over budget already for Entertainment! I guess I’ll be sitting around the house the rest of the month!
Everyone knows how much I love my statistics. Just look at my Gas Tracker that I have. So Mint.com’s statistics page is one of my favorites! The last couple months have been pretty unusual in spending for me, but with the following image you can really get a feel for how it works.
You can see that each part of the pie is a “Major” category item. Below each of these there can be sub-categories. IE for “Auto” there’s “Gas/Fuel”, “Maint”, “Service and Parts” and “Lease/Payment”. You can click on any of these major categories and it will break it down into the sub-categories, on the right it will then list all the purchase in that category based on the number of visits. You can also select one of the pre-set time periods or you can adjust the slider for your own custom time period.
Lastly, there’s a thing called “Spending Space”. Which is neat app, but not very useful for me. It will show you how your spending compares to America, a select City, or a select State. Here you can see how my spending for Food & Dining compares to California.
It’s a little strange that the spending for California dropped suddenly in Jan, not sure about that. But it’s still kind of neat. Again on this app you can also break it down by sub-category, or even compare yourself to just the LA area!
There have been a few hicups in starting this up. First was setting up my ING bank account. They ask you for SO MANY things that most of them I didn’t even know. Basically they have to ask you for ANY possible question that the bank will throw at them for security replies.
Second is that sometimes a bank will not respond. If this happens. It deletes all the log in information for that account and next time you do an update you will have to re-enter all this information. The good thing is that when this happens, it doesn’t delete the transactions for an account. I haven’t had it happen to much with my major accounts. But one of my credit cards has problems almost every week.
Third is that it only imports what is displayed on the first page of your account history. There’s no way to export from your accounts and then import into Mint. This would be an excellent feature. The forums are all abuzz with requests for this and the typical answer is “We didn’t expect people would want to do this.”… Really? How can you not expect people to want this feature! I have over 5 years of data on my banks website. It’d be awesome to import that into mint and extrapolate my spending trends over all this time!
Fourth, pending transactions can cause some issues. For a while all my pending transactions on ING were entered as credits, not debits. Now they appear to be correctly entering as Debits, but if you categorize them, once they become posted, they loose that categorization so I have to re-enter it, which can be a bit annoying.
Fifth, separation of accounts, I have both a business account and a personal account with one of my banks. However all the transactions are mixed together in Mint. It’d be nice if I could tell Mint that this one account was a different organization and to keep them separate.
Sixth, searching… This really needs some improvement. If you try searching for any category with an “&” in the name, you get NO RESULTS. All of the categories are setup by Mint.com, and you cannot edit or rename them. So trying to find all your transactions with an “&” in them can be difficult.
Lastly, support for IRA, stock accounts, etc. I know these are not considered bank accounts, but if we’re going to have one centralized place to manage money, it’d be nice if these were included…
I’d highly suggest going and checking it out. In case you can’t remember, the URL is http://www.mint.com/.