Mountain View, Calif—March 26, 2008 – Two centuries before the internet delivered infinite information at lightning speed, Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Fortunately, new internet- based services are making tax preparation and personal financial management much easier. As tax season rears its ugly head this year, consumers have access to new, easy to use online money management tools to better manage spending and investments. Using these tools, while following the basic principles of personal finance, can ease the pain of filing taxes – this year and next.
The days leading up to April 15 can provide a sobering picture of last year’s income vs. spending, and it’s a natural time to evaluate basic financial habits. But where do you start? An online search shows that there have been more than ten thousand books written about personal financial management. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.
“The keys to successful money management are actually very simple,” says Aaron Patzer, CEO and founder of Mint.com. “The first step is to get a clear understanding of where your money is going.” Fed up with the rigorous data entry required when using desktop personal financial management software, Patzer designed a free, online service which makes money management easy and efficient. Just six months after launch, Mint.com is helping 200,000 people across the country better understand, budget and save money – in just a few minutes a week.
Patzer recommends three principles of personal finance that are universally applicable and can make a significant difference in your financial situation:
1. Spend less than you earn.
Often the simplest truths can be the most difficult to follow, especially when temptations to buy shiny gadgets, new cars, and handbags abound. But the numbers on a tax return are an honest reminder of how much (or how little) money you take home each month, after taxes and Social Security are taken out. Now compare that amount to what you spent last year. For most of us, that’s a big reality check to create or revise your budget. Mint.com offers a unique budgeting tool that employs secure, internet access to your online bank, credit card and investment accounts to automatically show you where your money is going.
You can use the tool to identify the categories of spending that are your weak points (Restaurants? Shopping? Phone bills?) and to set up realistic budgets for each. Mint.com then goes a step further, offering email and text message alerts to notify you if you exceed your budget. Start this tax year off fresh with a realistic and easy-to-track budget, and by the time tax season rolls around next year, you’ll not only have a clear picture of your financial standing, you’ll be happier about where you are.
2. Make the money you have work for you.
If you’ve made some sacrifices and set aside some savings this year, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing better than the average American, whose net savings rate is currently negative. But don’t stop there; it’s important to make sure you’re getting the highest interest possible on that money. Think it’s too difficult or time-consuming to find a higher yield savings account? There’s now online help available to sift through the many accounts offered by banks nationwide. Mint.com searches and analyzes thousands of bank account offerings every day and automatically finds you any accounts paying higher interest.
More than 200,000 people are now using Mint for effortless money management. For more information on how Mint.com works, please visit www.mint.com.
Lastly, make sure you’re taking full advantage of your company’s 401k, if offered, and one of the smartest tax- advantaged savings offerings – a Traditional or Roth IRA. Not sure which IRA you’re qualified for? Take advantage of online tools to walk you through the same questions you used to have to pay an advisor for to determine your eligibility. Mint.com offers a quick, online questionnaire, and recommendations for low fee IRA accounts at IRA Advisor.
3. Be prepared for the unexpected.
With talk of a looming recession, it’s the right time to ensure you have an emergency fund set aside. Three months of expenses is the recommended amount. If you don’t have that much in the bank today, you should make saving any windfalls your top priority.
“Deposit your stimulus check and your tax rebate directly into a high yield savings account,” recommends Patzer. “Money that never hits your checking account is money you won’t be as tempted to spend.”
About Mint http://www.mint.com
Mint.com is the leading online personal finance service, providing 200,000 users a fresh, easy and intelligent way to manage their money online. And it’s free. Mint is currently managing over $10 billion in transactions and has identified more than $100 million in potential savings for its users. Designed to be effortless, Mint.com takes less than five minutes to set up. Users register anonymously using only a valid email address. Mint then does the rest, securely downloading transaction data from more than 5,000 bank, credit card and investment accounts on a daily basis. Users never need to import or synch their data. Mint, rated top in its category by PC World, applies patent- pending technology and proprietary algorithms to categorize transactions; provide a unified view of all account activity; alert users to low balances, bank fees, upcoming bills, and even potentially suspicious account activity; and give users personalized suggestions for significant savings opportunities.
Mint’s management team includes seasoned industry veterans drawn from the ranks of Charles Schwab & Co., eBay, Expedia, Intuit, PGP and other leaders in the finance, security and software spaces. Investors include top venture capital firms and prominent individuals associated with companies including Blue Nile, Google, Intuit, PassMark Security, PayPal, Yahoo! and others.
For more information on Mint.com’s free online personal finance service, please visit www.mint.com.