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Monday, June 07, 2010

JES makes BusinessWeek!

In a Business Week article that discussed a number of online financial websites, one of the sites discussed is my personal favorite, Mint.com. I was called up a few weeks ago by David Bogoslaw, who wrote the Business Week piece, and we spoke for about 10 minutes about Mint and what's great about it (and what its drawbacks can be). I think he took the most important point well, in addition to a small shout-out for the Jewish Economics Survey!: 
Ezzie Goldish, a young New York accountant, began using Mint just before the birth of his first child in June 2008. A month later, he lost his job while his wife was still working part-time so she could care for their baby. With Mint's help over the next year, the couple organized their finances and managed to pay off 40 percent of credit-card debt despite a 40 percent cut in income.
"As much as we thought we knew what we were doing, until you see [how you're spending] in front of you, it's a lot harder," he says. Goldish, who had already been getting calls for financial advice because of his profession, posted an economics survey on his blog for people in his Orthodox Jewish community. He has received hundreds of comments expressing interest in Mint from around the world.
 Awareness is absolutely the key to managing finances, and this is possibly more true for those who think they have a good handle on their finances. There's simply a huge difference between keeping track normally and actually seeing it all in front of you in a big chart that shows where all your money has been going.

What's great about Mint is how it just shows it all in front of you so clearly. A few friends have said since starting on Mint that it just makes tracking everything so much easier (and as someone noted, it also stops fights over spending like "you spend $XX on A" vs. "no I don't, it's not even close!", for those interested in the shalom bayis aspect - hard to argue with the numbers right in front of you), and that makes it a lot easier to cut back.

I commented to him that the biggest 'drawback' was that Mint only helped you for the past and present, but wasn't great for the future - though to be fair, neither were most any other sites. It's hard to adjust your spending to save for the future well. What was especially cool at the Intuit meeting I went to was that they're actually unveiling a tool to do exactly this soon: It will not only let you set goals and suggest goals, but will factor in as many details as it can to help you save, including acknowledging that you will need to save different amounts at different times to meet your goals, and that helps make goals feel reachable. Saying "you need to put away $85,000" is a lot harder to do than "put away $40 this month toward your son's college fund". It will even factor in things like presumed inflation and various changes in your spending habits, including changes that happen over time. It's a brilliant tool that will really round it out well.

Now, if only they had a Blackberry app...! :)

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