2/25/10

Show Me the Money, Mint!

Have you heard of Mint.com? If you haven't, its an online budgeting tool that tracks your accounts, loans, investments and assets online. I have been testing it out to see how well it rides for personal use. Then I got to wondering about how it would work for a virtual law office. Owned by Intuit, the same company that runs TurboTax, you can count on it for privacy, security and good sense (little pun there ...). With its account notifications, transaction lists, budgeting capabilities and trending information, I think it is a natural fit. One of my favorite features is the trending information. The site grabs an entire month's transactions, which has been categorized for you, and creates either a pie chart or a columned-graph to show you where your money's gone. The transactions list works like an online check register. Mint.com makes an intuitive guess as to how a transaction should be categorized--it is pretty good. But sometimes it is way off.
A good example is when I bought concert tickets from the Toyota Center. Mint.com categorized the ticket purchase as an auto expense (Toyota) when it more accurately should have been categorized as an entertainment expense.
If you don't like how a line item is categorized, it is easy to change to pre-set categories or to a custom category. You can also split a transaction like you can on Quicken and other finance software; for instance, if you wrote a check to your printer, you can split amount into half towards your non-profit work and the other half to your business.
You can also indicate that a transaction should be flagged for tax purposes. Plus, since it is an Intuit product, you know it will dove-tail nicely with Turbo Tax. But the last and, coolest feature of Mint.com are the e-mail notifications. I love these! Mint.com will give you a heads up when you are getting within a certain percent of spending your budget in any given category, when you are over-budget in a category, when a deposit shows up. Sometimes it lags by about 24 hours but it is still a really nice feature. And with the budgeting tool, you can set up any type of budget for continuing education, business travel, etc. So, although the site is intended for personal use, I think the site would be perfectly adaptable for business purposes.
Just think, if you have PayPal, Mint.com and TurboTax all working together you may never have to step foot into a bank again.
That in itself is worth the price.
By the way, did I mention Mint.com was free?

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