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Mint adds inbound SMS balance feature

19 November 2008  |  1696 views  |  0 Source: Mint.com

Mint.com, the leading online personal finance service, today added an inbound SMS feature to its award-winning product, allowing users instant access to an overview of their entire net worth - wherever they are.

Users can simply text "Bal" or "Balance" to shortcode "MyMint" (696468) to receive real-time balances for the checking, savings, credit union and investment accounts they track using Mint.com. Because the free online service now supports over 7,500 financial institutions, Mint.com now offers free mobile access to the majority of US banks. Mint.com users can now find out in the checkout line whether they should use debit or credit, and which of their cards to use. This new inbound SMS feature helps avoid overdrafts and other fees, and lets users maximize reward points.

With nearly 600,000 users, Mint.com is the fastest-growing personal financial service, tracking more than $50 billion in transactions and $15 billion in assets. And it's free. Mint's "Ways to Save" feature has already identified more than $100 million in potential savings for its users. This new inbound SMS capability is the latest in a series of Mint.com innovations which help its users stick to budgets, avoid unwanted fees, and ultimately save and do more with their money.

"90 percent of our users tell us they understand their spending better after using Mint, and about half have already changed their spending behavior," said Aaron Patzer, founder and CEO of Mint. "In the past few months, we've seen an even sharper change, with users cutting hundreds of dollars in monthly spending across categories. As the holiday season approaches, we're proud that the more than half a million Mint.com users are well-prepared to shop within their budget and avoid crushing debt, especially in this uncertain economy."

A January, 2008 Mint.com survey* found that over 4 in 10 people spent more than they'd planned during the 2007 holiday season. At that time, 6 in 10 respondents said they planned to make some changes to their holiday spending this year. And in fact, the majority of Mint.com users have adjusted their budgets downward since the beginning of the American economic crisis in September, reversing a more typical seasonal trend to increase budgets for the holiday season. Overall, Mint.com users are planning to spend 3% less in the coming months, with the largest reductions planned in Travel (down 20%) and Personal Care (down 24%). Users are planning to maintain, not increase, their average monthly spending this holiday season by shifting spending from general Shopping purchases (budgets down 7%) toward Gifts (up 8%). Thousands of Mint.com users have already added customized Gifts and Shopping budgets since Mint.com introduced personalized spending categories last month.

In addition, Mint.com's blog features tips and tricks for surviving the holidays (blog.mint.com). Among Patzer's key recommendations*: Don't spend more than one paycheck on the holidays. For someone making $60,000/year, that means spending no more than their average $1,500 bi-monthly paycheck on gifts, decorations, food and drinks for parties -- everything.

"For many, budgeting is a dirty word. But in this economy, with the generosity of the season pulling at our wallets, budgeting is essential and doesn't require as much work as some think. Pick a few problem areas -- you may go out to restaurants too much, or spend too much on clothes. If you track and budget in just those categories, you'll likely find enough money for gifts," continued Patzer. "We recently had a user write in that after Mint showed her the 'error of her ways,' she's cut out $5 visits to Starbucks, $7 visits to the work cafeteria, and is eating and drinking at home more. After two months, she's not only cut $680/month in spending, but she's also lost 3 pounds!"

Mint.com has recently released major updates to the product, adding: support for 1,000's of new banks; mortgages, loans and investment tracking; customizable spending categories; and automatic budgeting features.

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