The mint.com website is a free financial management site run by Intuit, which is the company that produces the popular financial software package Quicken. Obviously nothing is really free in life and users should be prepared for the reality that the ulterior motive of any “free” site is to make money and sell products to customers. However, this does not change the fact that mint.com is a very useful site for a wide variety of financial functions and monitoring.
One of the primary benefits of this site is the ability to track accounts. Users can input their bank accounts, credit cards, loans, assets, and investments. Not all companies are involved, but most of the major players can be accessed. The site stays connected to these accounts and provides individuals with up-to-date balances. Obviously people have to be comfortable giving out financial information of this kind, but managing finances online is increasingly becoming the standard. The site will also alert users through email or smart phone notification when various transactions are posted or statements are ready. This can be particularly helpful for avoiding fraud and knowing when items clear.
Another major function of the site is budgeting. Individuals can pick various categories and set budget limits for the month. The site will track transactions from all input accounts and send alerts to the user if categories are exceeded. Some tweaking is required to put transactions in the right categories, but overall the site does a solid job of identifying where various businesses fall in the budgetary scheme. Obviously the site won’t stop people from spending money, but tracking is often the first step towards greater financial discipline. In addition, users can run various reports and see patterns in their spending.
As mentioned, the site is designed to provide people with various financial options. This includes different credit cards, loans, insurance, and investment vehicles. The presence of these options are all over the site, but they are no different than banner ads on various websites, and discerning customers can easily pick and choose what they are actually interested in pursuing. Again, this is an understandable part of a company providing relatively free services.
Online tracking is becoming standard practice and this may be the future of money management as consumers move away from standalone software packages. This site is fairly intuitive and a good way to get a lot of information in a single place. For smart phone users, there is also a mint.com app that can used as a companion to the website.
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