Personal Finance Website Review

I’ve been using Mint for about 3 months now.  For those who haven’t used it, it’s basically a website that consolidates all your accounts at other financial websites into one.  You can see your mortgage, investment portfolio, credit cards and checking account all at a glance.

Read the Canadian review

The Good

  • I’m a huge fan of measurement, and its role in enacting change in our lives.  Its really great that they’re able to show you all the info in one place, derive trends from it automatically, and prevent us from fooling ourselves (by “not counting” that one credit card that keeps growing or the stock account that’s dropped recently)
  • I liked that it tries its best to organize spending, but then you can override it and mark things as the appropriate category (such as “Income”, “Food and Dining’ or “Investment”)
  • The set-up is pretty impressive.  Given the variety of banks in the US, for them to have screen-scrappers set up for each (which is how I assume they get the info) as well as login sequences is something that I’d guess would have been a big pain to create and maintain.  It works well though.  My only problem setting things up was I forgot which “secret questions” I’d used at various sites, so I had to redo them all (so I’d know which to use at Mint).
  • They have notifications for worrisome situations  (an unpaid credit card, a checking account that’s low on funds, etc.) which are very handy, and make you wonder why the financial institutes themselves aren’t doing a better job offering similar services.

The Bad

  • A data breach for Mint would be disastrous.  I was nervous about trusting them with my financial info when they first debuted, but after months went by and no one reported any problems, I figured that I wasn’t in danger from the Mint crew themselves.  If their security ever fails them and their customers’ info falls into the wrong hands, its going to be very bad for both the company and their customers.  This is the exact info bad guys would love to get their hands on (all in one place).
  • While I get that it’s probably the revenue portion of their business plan, I found their “Ways To Save” section kinda lame.  Basically they show sponsored offers that will “save you money” (although the suggestions for me are all worse deals than what I already have.  It’s easy enough to ignore this section though.

Conclusion is a very convenient way to track your finances.  It’s an online service that will download your financial data automatically, which is the main difference between Mint and other financial software.

If you are looking for a different budgeting program, check out You Need A Budget Review.

10 replies on “ Website Review”

How’d you manage to get US bank accounts (isn’t a SIN required)? Are you a dual citizen? What are they for (if you don’t mind me asking) just regular banking or were you able to setup investment accounts?

Whoops I meant to also write that I also tried to try out mint, but with no Canadian support I ditch it. I did however read in their forums they are at least *thinking* of expanding into our market, I believe they have a thread going to post your email and they’ll contact you if things start rolling into beta here.

Jordan: I worked in SF at the tail end of the dot-com boom, so I got a SIN (and financial accounts) at that time. Truth be told they aren’t used for much (but they let me use services like Mint and Prosper that require a US financial presence).

I’ve been using Spending Profile ( since September and I was reasonably happy with it, despite several limitations (no tracking multiple accounts, no balance transfers from month to month, no YTD totals on categories). The important thing for me is to know how much money is going out and coming in over the course of a month, as I can easily check the balances of my accounts online whenever I feel like it. My problem was one of cash flow.

However, the service was down for a few days this week and I got nervous that it wasn’t coming back. So I started searching for a replacement and started reading reviews. Mint was the number one recommended site, but I decided against it and others of a similar nature because I just wasn’t comfortable offering up access to my banking information to a third party.

I just started using sMoneybox and I’m finding it more comprehensive than SpendingProfile (though it’s a little more complicated to set up). I can keep track of all my spending, on my terms and anonymously.

I’m in Canada too and really like I love the tracking and tag features. It recognizes purchases I have made before and will tag them automatically. I uploaded everything from 2008. It took me an hour to tag everything and in one hour I could see EXACTLY where my money went for the whole year.

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