Mint launched a cool new feature today that helps you plan your financial fitness strategy. Y’all know I’ve been a fan of Mint since their private beta in 2007, and it has been exciting to see them grow over the past few years.
The new feature is brilliant from a business standpoint for them. Continuing on their money-making concept of high-profit referrals to financial accounts, the financial fitness tool suggests places to tune up your fiscal health. I hate the term win-win situation when describing product features, but if there ever was one it would be this, and all of the related features Mint rolls out.
The new feature is basically a page that offers 12 different steps to get your finances in order, and you get points and other sorts of rewards for getting closer to your goals. Game theory at its finest. For us personal finance bloggers / blog readers, the steps are not enlightening in their own right. (Check your credit report. Get cheap health insurance. Set up an emergency fund. Pay off debt.) But what is really neat about this feature is that Mint can access your bank accounts and tell you exactly what you need to do where to get financially fit.
Patzer admits this feature is designed mostly for 20-somethings who are in debt and not 30 or 40 somethings who have more complicated finances, adding that in the future they will add even more features to help people without debt look at ways to grow their networth and invest.
“The next phase of Mint is financial goals,” Patzer told me. “It’s what do I want, when do I want it? I want to retire by 50, put my kids through college, what are trade offs for all those goals, what do I have to save each month in order to achieve them. How can Mint help me find ways to save for my longer term goals?”
(I’m looking forward to that!)
I grilled Patzer a little bit on if the offers are really the best for the users (or just the ones they’d make the most profit on) and he said that they do get offers that are actually good for users — for instance, they went with Annual Credit Report which is “truely free” as opposed to FreeCreditReport.com which costs money after seven days.
With 1.1 million registered users, it looks like Mint won’t be going anywhere. While there are lots of other personal finance startups out there, their only real competitor these days seems to be Quicken Online. But that product, while similar, is really suited for a different audience… one that’s older, and that might not be so hip to the web. Plus, 40% of Mint’s users are using their recently-launched iPhone app. (That actually says a lot about the type of person who would use Mint, since the iPhone crowd, which I don’t currently belong to, is definitely a cult-like group of uber hipness.)
One interesting point Patzer noted is that their female adoption has gone up since they launched – it started out as 85% guys, 15% gals and now they’re at a 60/40 split. Count my mom in to that mix, I signed her up for Mint and am teaching her the ropes of personal finance that she needs to learn now that my dad has taken ill. It’s also nice to hear that other women are really getting empowered to take charge of their finances with the help of Mint.
“Even if you go to Quicken Online or Microsoft money, the color scheme, product design… the way it’s positioned is for 45 to 60 year old man that has a half million dollar networth and manages stocks all the time,” said Patzer. “Mint is really more about where do you spend your money, where do you cut back, and that appeals to a younger audience and to women.”
There are still some features I hope Mint adds, and some kinks that need to be worked out, but overall I’m still a fan. Will keep y’all posted on new features they roll out, as long as they keep me posted. Thanks to their PR firm for reaching out to little ‘ol me for the interview, and for Patzer to take time out of his busy schedule to chat.