This week, online financial management tool Mint.com saved my bacon, yet again. Financial guru Dave Ramsey says every married couple has one “free spirit” and one “money nerd.” Our household is, sadly, the exception to that rule. We are effectively nerdless. Hence, managing our money has been a challenge over our 17 years (as of this month! Go us!) of marriage.
So anyway, in September 2007, in desperation I signed up on Mint, handed over the account numbers for our checking account, and held my breath waiting for mean, greedy h4ck0rz to steal all our money.
That hasn’t happened, happily enough. Instead, it was like handing over our finances to a fairly competent (not to mention free) bookkeeper. Mint is like a free web version of Quicken without the data entry. Instead of asking you to create a budget, it creates one itself based on what you actually typically spend, and what you make. You can then adjust that budget, if you want to cut back in certain areas, but your starting point is present reality–what you’re currently spending.
How refreshing is that? Especially compared to being told “This is a proper budget. No matter that it bears no resemblance to the way you currently handle your money. Follow it anyway.”
This is embarrassing to admit, but we used to get overdrafted. A lot. And I swear I remember logging into the online account management tool for our bank (which shall remain nameless), and setting up “low balance alerts” to come to our email addresses and/or mobile phones.
Yet oddly enough, those low balance warnings never seemed to make it to our inboxes or cell phones.
The overdraft fee notices, on the contrary, were always remarkably prompt.