Using Mint

October 4, 2007
I recently decided to register for Mint (the financial website not the one the measures traffic) because it came highly recommended in one of the many blogs I read during the day (I don't recall which one...sorry). I knew little about the site, just that it was supposed to munge together all your finances to give you a better idea about how financially screwed you really are. I initially thought that recommendations for the Mint website were some sort of terrible joke. After registering I tried for most of the afternoon to get any account information into the system with no luck. The site was tremendously slow and unresponsive. I later came to realize that Mint had just won the TechCrunch40 award, so that would explain the site's slow response time. I returned a few days later after the furor ran down, hoping they'd spent their $50,000 winnings on some additional servers. Returning to Mint's website, it seemed a bit more responsive and I was finally able to add several accounts to the system. The concept is fairly easy, after registering you search to see if your bank or credit card company appears on the list that Mint can interact with. If you do find your bank or credit card provider, you then enter in your login information and several minutes later (or in my case hours later) Mint connects with your accounts and downloads your transactions. I was fairly surprised with the sheer number of companies Mint claims to be able to talk to. I didn't have troubles with a majority of my accounts, Mint still can't connect to a particular credit card of mine (although they claim they can) and for some reason Mint still can't talk to my Etrade bank account (which Mint also claims they can talk to). After downloading, Mint then "studies" your transactions, assigning them to categories, generating pretty graphs and recommending better options for your money. You then have the option to recategorized your transactions to better facilitate the reporting. As far as I can tell...that's it. That's all Mint does, I can't add that missing credit card or Etrade account information manually. I can't create new reports, the canned ones are nice but I'm guessing the true finance addicts that are using Mint would probably want more. What kills me is that I don't see the option to create new categories, again Mint has a ton of canned ones but where's "Tolls" or "Skateboard Equipment - For Dog"? I've also noticed it's slow to update account information (1-2 days off) but I'm guessing that's due to growth. You know what Mint is? Microsoft Money, except without all the bells and whistles. If your one of the types that combs through their financial information for every minute detail, I don't think Mint is for you. If your the type that has absolutely no clue what kind of situation you are money wise ("Dear lord honey! We spent $1100 over at the sex toy store last month!") then it might behoove you to give Mint a try.

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