Batching & Automation Challenge, Day 1: Mint.com
Following the delay from my post introducing the new challenge, I’ll start off my challenge with a website that I’ve found to be among my favorites: Mint.com. Mint.com was created by the makers of Quicken, and it is quite possibly the best and only tool you’ll ever need to organize your budget and finances.
Do you currently check more than one bank website to see your checking/savings account balances? Do you also have a retirement account (IRA, 401k) with another institution? Do you use Lending Club? Do you have a mortgage? Do you have student loans?
The list goes on and on – potentially, you have 10 or more places that you check periodically to see balances, amounts due, etc. Mint.com exists to solve that problem. I’ve recently signed up to Mint.com and it’s incredible how well this service batches nearly a dozen of my website-checking tasks that I used to do at least once per week and automatically checks them for you. It consolidates all of your financial information, shows you your net worth, and has other great features including:
- An ability to set up and control a budget (and it automatically tracks how well you keep up with your budget).
- Detail for all transactions (credit card, checking acct., etc.) and ability to reclassify categories
- Alerts for when you have a credit card payment due or when a bank charges you a service fee
- A great (and free) iPhone/iPod Touch application that allows you check all of this remotely.
Best of all, Mint.com is FREE to use. Some things that are free aren’t all that great, but this service is excellent.
Okay, so it’s a great service and it’s free, but why should I trust all of my secret financial account user names and passwords with them? Can I trust them? In my opinion, yes. Mint.com is “TRUSTe” certified. TRUSTe is a service provided to web sites in order to help the business validate its security and privacy procedures. From the TRUSTe website:
As the leading internet privacy services provider, TRUSTe helps thousands of businesses promote online safety and trust, and guides consumers to sites that protect their online privacy. TRUSTe helps both consumers click with confidence and online companies promote their Web site privacy policies online. Thousands of Web sites rely on TRUSTe’s privacy, including top-fifty sites like Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, eBay, AOL, Disney, New York Times, Comcast and Apple.
Given these security measures in place, I don’t think there’s a reason to worry (I would never go as far as saying you’re 100% safe – I don’t believe anything online is ever perfectly safe). You can even click here to see what Mint.com’s CEO has to say about the site’s security.
Now, the part relevant to my challenge. If I’m automating my bank website checking and batching it all onto one interface, how much time am I saving? Let’s first look at what account/items I use Mint.com to track:
- Chase Credit Card (Visa)
- Chase Credit Card (Mastercard)
- Chase Checking Account
- Chase Savings Account
- HSBC Online Savings Account
- Lending Club Account
- Vanguard IRA Account
- Vanguard 401(k) Account
- Student Loan Balance
- Diner’s Club Credit Card
As you can see, I would normally need to check 10 different places (even if some are within the same website) to monitor my financial account balances and transactions.
- Estimate of current time spent checking bank/other financial account-related websites: 30 minutes/week (2 hours/month)
- Approximate time spent with Mint.com: 5 minutes/week (20 minutes/month)
- Monthly time savings: 4-6 hours
These numbers are very rough – I don’t actually keep track of how much time I usually spend checking websites, but I think this is a fair estimate. One flaw in this particular case is that when you first use Mint.com, you’ll be so intrigued by it that you’ll want to check it multiple times a day. This will wear off once you’ve used it for a week or two.
Do you love Mint.com and have some tips or great things to say about it, or have you found any significant flaws? Share them in the comments!