I have some habits that have become a part of my daily financial routine. One habit sticks out over everything else. It does not involve frugality and it does not involve trying to cut spending. It involves knowledge.
I used to spend at least a half hour every day checking on all of my financial accounts. Having in depth knowledge of your financial accounts and transactions is key to long term and short term personal finance success. Spending hours a week, however, gave me little analysis and took a lot of time. There had to be a better way.
I began searching for methods to bring everything into one view and give me a more qualitative view of my situation. I am an avid Lifehacker reader, and they kept talking about this awesome new site called Mint that won a breakout product award from Techcrunch.
I worked in a bank and knew that security was most important when I was dealing with my finances on the internet, so I checked with the top online data security person at the company. She told me that Mint and Mint’s backbone, Yodlee, were legit. I took the plunge the next day.
I have every financial account connected through Mint’s aggregator and all of my spending is now automatically updated and categorized daily. The site populates my personal budget with each new purchase and one quick check in every morning gives me everything I want to know.
Mint is not the only aggregator out there, and it is not the best for everyone. Some people prefer the financial advisor approach (and superior customer service) from Thrive. You can compare the features here. I have also taken a look at Pageonce, which brings the data in but gives little analysis. Some people also like Buxfer, but I have not found it to be any better than Mint.
What You Should Do
At the end of the day, everyone’s financial situation is incredibly different. There is no cookie cutter answer for the best way to manage your finances. For me, and most people I know, a site like Mint.com is the best way to aggregate and track everything in one place.
I urge you to check out the benefits of aggregators. This ain’t your Daddy’s Microsoft Money or Quicken. This is a whole new generation of financial tools. The technology has changed, it is time you change along with it.
If you do sign up and give it a go, the toughest part is deciding what to do with all of the free time you have now that checking your finances only takes five minutes per day. I suggest napping.