Manage your money with Mint

A soft breeze blows across your skin as you head to the mailbox. It’s a new month and you feel great until you open the mailbox. A couple magazines, a letter from mom and credit card bills. Bank statements. Utility balances.

If you dread this monthly ritual—and the balance in your checking account— take a look at Mint, a money free money management tool owned by the Intuit, the company that makes Quicken.

Mint works by pulling the data from all of your accounts and investments and presenting them in one spot, complete with graphs, and pie charts showing you how much you spend and where you spend it. Besides allowing you to view all your balances, Mint also categorizes each expenditure—say $40 at Vons as “groceries”— allowing you to keep tabs on the types of items that consume most of your income.

Speaking of income, Mint also analyzes how much income you make each month and automatically sets up a budget for you to follow. I have been using Mint for more than two years to keep track of my finances and its ‘Reminders’ feature is invaluable. If you’re the type to forget when credit cards payments are due and how much to pay, Mint will email you reminders.

If you’re worried about security, Mint uses SSL encryption for logging in and VeriSign and TrustE. What this means is that the people who work at Mint have no access to your information. Furthermore, Mint can’t perform banking transactions such as money transfers, so don’t worry about a Mint hacker stealing your cash.

There is a downside to Mint: if you are susceptible to credit card offers, you might want to steer clear. Mint makes its money by advertising rewards-type credit cards to its users.