Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hello Mint, Goodbye Quicken!

This is an early post/ review about new public beta service and it is free. Some may know, but they won the Techcrunch Top 40 $50,000 for web apps just in the last few days. I have only been using the services for 2 days and wanted to give my initial impressions.

They announced at the Techcrunch event that they were going from private beta to public beta. I will first start off and say that I could definitely tell that they were experiencing early growing pains. I am sure that after winning the award and then being put on digg they were hammered with all kinds of new people signing up to give it a try, I was one of them. I have never been happy with Quicken and had recently jumped ship and was using Cha-Ching (a mac only checkbook keeping app). Honestly I can say that I wasn't completely satisfied with Cha-Ching either although I wanted it to be that app that just worked for me. It just came up a little short in what I could do with managing my finances. (Main thing is that transferring money between 2 accounts had too many steps.)

After seeing this on my Techcrunch rss feed I decided that I would check it out. With all kinds of apps going to web based apps I was comfortable trying it out. I actually like the fact that there are certain apps that are available online and I can access all my "stuff" from any computer or device that has access to the Internet. Having said all that, I think that one obstacle that Mint is going to have to face and overcome is getting people to feel safe about giving their financial information to a web based company. Honestly for some reason (maybe I am too trusting) I am not concerned about their security I feel that my information is safe with them and I am willing to take that risk. (if you want to call it that)

Mint does require a few things in order to use their service. As I mentioned before it is free, but does require you to have online access to your banking and credit cards. In order to use it you must login to all your accounts through to add your accounts, requiring you to give them your user id and password. From there it goes out and establishes a secure connection, check your user id and password, download transactions and find savings. Since it was hammered with many people trying to get their information on the service the past 2 days has been slow going in terms of adding accounts. As of today I now have all, but 1 credit card (it is a smaller credit card, so it doesn't matter that much) added to my account with Mint. Since there are thousands of credit cards out there they will have to work out the kinks with some companies. It was slow and a little frustrating to get all my accounts added, but I was excited about using the services so it was worth the wait for me. I know with any company going public with an online web app is going to experience some growing pains.

Once all the accounts are added it shows you the balances on all you credit cards, banking accounts and saving accounts. They analyze the transactions and tell you where you are spending most of your money, the most frequently used merchant. (We need to stop going to Costco, LOL) While some of this may be a little frighting to see everything in one place in such detail telling you exactly how well or how bad you are doing financially, it is nice to know. I have kept track of my credit cards, banking and savings accounts in Quicken and Cha-Ching, but neither worked as well as Mint does in showing you just where you are at financially. The other big benefit is not having to manually enter new transactions and reconciling everything every month. Everything is automatically updated 1 a day, I am very excited about this. The other benefit is that if I need to know the balance of a credit card or what I have in my bank account I can go to one place and find out this information for all my accounts.

Apparently they make their money by having relationships with different financial institutions. They analyze different thing that you spend money on and your credit card interest rates and show you offers that will help you save money. As of right now nothing that they have suggested for me has been beneficial, but maybe at some point they will show me an offer that could really help me out. If you are frustrated with your current means of managing your finances and want to try something that is easy and automatic, you really need to give this a try. It is very awesome and I look forward to using it, since this is an early impression I will update as time passes and give more impressions after using it for a more lengthy period.