I just read an article in the brand spankin’ new issue Fast Company today.  I then immediately put the magazine down, turned to my powerbook, and typed in mint.com with great anticipation.  For the past several months I have been contemplating what to do for managing my own personal finances.  2 years ago I bough quicken; downloaded it to my computer; tried to connect it to my bank accounts; called customer support to see if they could tell me how to connect it to my bank accounts because I couldn’t; finally go it to work only to find it difficult to update every transaction so that I could figure out how much I spent on gas.  I ended up trading the idea of a solid software budget tool for a combination of online banking and an excel spreadsheet.

Mint.com is a free online tool that allow you to connect to your financial accounts and see instant results and comparisons.  They use Yodel to retrieve data (as does Microsoft Money and Bank of America).  It is free and took me about 10 minutes to load my 2 savings accounts, checking account, and credit cards.  Now I can see a great pie chart that outlines my spending by category (retail spending is a little high right now thanks to Thanksgiving break).

Since Mint.com is in beta, I am assuming that they have developers working like crazy to introduce updates (that’s just how software companies role).  Here are the features that I hope to see soon:

  1. car loan payment info – I tried to connect to Capital One Auto Finance and couldn’t get it to work right now.  I am going to try to make the transaction record in my bank account to show up on the pie chart.  But I want to see a balance too.
  2. student loan – same deal as the car payment.
  3. make it perfect from the start – I think some of my transactions are off right now.  (Hint: I spent more than $10 on Starbucks this month).  I might to comb through the transactions to make changes.  I am not complaining though, this kills quicken.
  4. investment tracking – I can’t connect to my online 401k account (P.S. I am loving my Bernstein Global Growth funds!)
  5.  schedule transactions – I want to be able to schedule auto payments for my wife’s car.  But for now I have to mail in the check because the loan is through a credit union.  It would be awesome if a software tool could facilitate this process.

So there it is, boys and girls, check out mint.  Everyone should have a budget, and free software saves a ton of time.