Mint.com: double your pleasure, double your cash

We’ve all been there: standing, nose-pressed against the glass of a store window, looking at the newest display of the hottest trends. The urge to take out that shiny, plastic card and swipe up every item on every rack is unbearably enticing.

As you return to your senses and peel your eyes away from the Gucci bag on sale for halfprice, you consider the other things you could be spending your nickels and pennies on.

These tempting feelings can be overwhelming at times, and many of us wish we could have a little angel and devil on our shoulders guiding us to buy the right thing. Luckily, there is a technological equivalent to those little imaginary people: Mint.com.

Mint assists you in making the best decisions for saving or even making money based on your individual purchase history. “I’m able to budget myself every month based on what money I’m getting,” said Ali Schmelzle, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major. “I can see which places I spend money at; it breaks it all down for me.”

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The tabs offer you choices such as transactions, budgets, goals, trends, and ways to save. “I found out I’m going to Kasteel Well next year, and with Mint, I’ve started a savings goal,” said Schmezle. “Without that kind of program, I don’t know if I’d be strict enough with my savings.”

Chris Mills, 21, a junior studying mechanical engineering and computer science at MIT, says he was really impressed with Mint’s ability to import information from financial institutions, attempt to categorize it, and analyze wise financial decisions for him based on his habits. “Add to that that they keep adding new features, like goals, investment accounts, partnerships with TurboTax, and more,” said Mills.

Created in 2005 by Aaron Patzer, the site has since been named the best free online personal finance tool by magazines such as Money Magazine and PC Magazine. Mint has been compared with other financial budgeting sites like Wesabe.com, Pennyminder, and Geezeo, ranking number one in 10 best options for a personal finance tool according to U.S News. Mint gains about 3,000 users every day, according to their site.

Logging on and using Mint is as easy as spending money on the three grande caramel macchiato’s from Starbucks you got today. To start off, the site is free and it only takes about five minutes to set up your information. Mint does not require your address or social security number, and does not share your name. The only information you need to provide for the initial sign-up is your name and e-mail address. Many users find Mint’s commitment to privacy a huge plus. “Mint is a read-only site, you can’t transfer funds from your accounts through it, so it’s absolutely safe,” said Schmelzle.

Once you’ve become a member, you can explore the site on your own or click the “How It Works” tab found at the top of your screen. This helps guide you and provides resources such as informational videos like “How to add an account.” Mills says the accessibility of the site has made it a successful one. “Most financial software is really just downright depressing,” said Mills. “Mint almost makes it fun to look at your money, which makes it much easier to maintain.”

To gain a better understanding of what people are saying about Mint, check out MintLife, the site’s personal blog with everything on finances from “Frugal Living” to “Becoming Wealthy.” Even with everything Mint already provides for users, Mills says it’s still looking to improve. “They’ll continue to add features to their debt management system, increase robustness, support, and response time of their institution import features.”

Another new aspect that Mint may be adding to their site is transforming it into a transaction processor like PayPal. Processing transactions directly through Mint with your phone on the go would be convenient. By simply using a code texted to you by Mint, can authorize payment at the register or the soda machine and have the transaction immediately post to Mint, Mills said.

Mint offers plenty of help for the budgeting college student. Whether it’s the expense of taxis on the weekend, grocery shopping, or browsing the glitzy shops on Newbury Street, Mint is there to be the little angel on your shoulder, without making you look like a crazy person.