Minty Fresh!

Mint won the TechCrunch (something or other) Award, so I gave it a look.

Wowzers! It's good now, but has a chance to be great very soon.

Simply put, the service allows you to link your online bank accounts to your Mint account through web services. Mint then automatically works its magic by categorizing, graphing, pie-charting, trending, etc. your financials 15 ways 'til Tuesday. For example, grocery expenses this month as compared to last month, as compared to total expenses, as compared to the GDP of Guatemala, etc.

I've only spent 20 or so minutes on the site, but have particularly enjoyed a couple of the helpful features. One, I got an email reminding me that my credit card payment is coming due next week. (Nevermind that I'd already paid it. That's an easy one for them to figure out.) I would LOVE it if the company could aggregate other online payments and provide similar reminders/payment help. Quicken already does this at some level with BillPay.

Two, the service makes suggestions for saving money. For example, it links me to credit cards with a lower interest rate and a cheaper phone provider. There's an interesting opportunity here, both for AI generated results and sponsored recommendations.

The categorization algorithm needs a little work, though. All of my credit card transactions that include the word "Chapel" from Chapel Hill are categorized as "church". I'm sure there is (or will be) some way that I can re-tune this to correctly ID my transactions.

Also - why don't financial institutions do this already?  My credit card company has several years of my spending data, yet all they provide is some lame EOY report mailed to me at the end of the year.  The data is there, they just need to build the reporting.  On the contrary, Mint has the pretty pictures, but doesn't have the wealth of data.  I suspect that this will be a challenge for the firm going forward.

I use a grotesquely unmanageable spreadsheet to track Boggs Family, Inc's finances.  I look forward to giving Mint a try in hopes of dumping my spreadsheet.