I know I'm a little behind the times on Mint but better late than never. Every once in a while I come across a new web application that I find amazing. The kind of application that has you reaching for your phone as you use it to tell your friends they have to try it out too - Mint.com was this web app. for me. Usually I'm intrigued by some specific aspect of the website that was executed well such as a great UI (see Gowalla), intuitive layout and design (see thredUP or Zooppa), or functionality that sells me in a matter of minutes (see Shopify or Squarespace). The list of websites that are able to achieve all three are very rare and the ones that are able to be profitable (Mint sold for $170 million less than a year ago) as well puts Mint in an echelon all by itself.
I had heard about Mint in the past through various podcasts and blogs but had never given it too much thought for two reasons: what can Mint really provide me that my current online banking can't and security. Special emphasis on the latter. Mint would have access to every dollar in my bank account, credit card, and investment. Besides Google, I couldn't think of a company I would entrust this information to, especially a company I had never used before. In addition to having access to my funds, there are privacy concerns. This is very privileged information and advertisers would drool of being able to access someone's age, sex, income, savings, and most of all spending habits. Can you even imagine how well they could advertise products when they know every credit card transaction you make? Even the data-mined Facebook couldn't hold a candle to providing as accurate and relevant ads as they could. Despite all of this I gave it a try and it was well worth it.
First, sign-up is easy and Mint is free. After verifying an email address, you can add as many accounts as you wish. Their account adding system is simple, fast, and has two levels of security. You have to enter your username/password information for the account you're adding (through that institution's log-in interface) and answer the security question the institution (i.e. Bank of America) asks. You can also add credit cards account, investment portfolios, loans, cars you own, etc. Once you have a robust profile built, Mint let's you know how liquid you are, what your debt is, your money earned/spending trends for each month, and what I love the most - the ability to budget each category of spending. Mint shows you how much you're spending on gas, groceries, etc. and they have a budget system intact that is editable. These statistical and visual representations of your money allow you to responsibly maintain your finances. What's in it for Mint? They have a section that shows you savings you could be making by switching banks or credit cards and they receive money for every person that switches over. The business model is solid, the user interface is great, and the feature set is robust. If you haven't tried it out yet, I suggest you do so because well....I'm impressed.