On the Road to Financial Fitness

I did a phone demo this morning with the nice folks at Mint. I have personally had trouble getting set up with this free service because of something wonky my bank did to make the registration process impossible. But Stephen – Mint’s director of consumer advocacy — tells me they got that all fixed today and I should be good to go.

I am absolutely going to sign up and take the service for a whirl. There were several features in the demo that had me thinking, “I need that!”

Here’s one:

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the benefits (and risks) of these insanely confusing but mighty tempting cash-back reward credit cards. Some offer a small percent (typically 1%) back on most purchases and more (maybe 5%) back on something specific – usually related to a brand. But some, such as the Discover More card, offer cash back on a wide range of purchases. Discover sent me the schedule of how the cash back system works with their card. Depending on the following schedule you might get rewards on groceries or home repairs.

Discover tells me that those cash-back rewards can be put into savings, dropped onto a gift card from one of their partner merchants, or even used to pay down my Discover card balance. That sounds mighty tempting to me. But is that the right cash-back card for me?

Once I get all my accounts linked to my Mint account, I can find out. It will look at my spending habits and all manner of financial details about me, compare that to the details of all these rewards cards, and recommend the best card for me. (This is in the “Ways to Save” section under “Credit Cards.”) I need that! It will also make recommendation on other financial institution choices. This is just the one that grabbed me because I want one of these rewards cards and have been way confused about which one.

The other thing in the demo that made me sit up and say, “Whoa, gimme that!” was the new – actually still in Beta – Financial Fitness section. This section looks at your debt, investments, spending, credit cards, bank fees, and spending habits and recommends fixes, strategies, financial advice, and action items to improve your financial fitness. It provides a financial to-do list based on five basic concepts of financial management:

  1. Know your Money
  2. Spend Less than you Earn
  3. Use Debt Wisely
  4. Invest Your Savings
  5. Prepare for the Unexpected

It looks like this:

When you click the “Do It Now” button to the right of a to-do item, it helps you find the right saving account or reward card, or whatever it is you need so you can take action right away. I love the “Nice Job!” button on items you are doing well on.

If you want to try the beta before it goes live, here’s what you do. Sign up at Mint.com. Then send an email to
from the email address you used to sign up and allow Mint a couple of days to set you up.

5 thoughts on “On the Road to Financial Fitness

  1. I LOVE Mint.com!! I make sure and visit that site every day just to look at my balances. It keeps me conscious of my finances. I’ve been doing this for the past 4 months. Before, I never paid attention and always came up short each month. Now I’m very frugal and careful with my funds. It’s very much like being on a diet and writing down every think you eat in a day.

    I also love the text alerts I get through my iPhone application.

  2. I’m a huge fan of Mint. Sadly, it went down due to a glitch with my bank for a few weeks but I’ve been back up and running again. I’ll send the email as I’m dying to try the new beta.

  3. I love Mint but have also recently tried Thrive.com. Are you familiar with that one? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but think I lean more toward Mint for now.

  4. Glad to see you have discovered the cashback phenomenom. I hope you make the right decision on which cashback card to go for. Remember to pay the full balance every month if you can and be sure you know the terms sentence for sentence. That Do It Now option on the Mint site is kinda like a price comparison thing right? Using different price comparison sites is a good idea when wanting to go for a cashback card. And you should try to find real reviews of peoples experiences with such cards before finally registering for one. Still as long as you play your cards right its possible to actually turn the tables on card issuers and have them make us money for a change!

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