How it works:
You sign into your various accounts through mint.com's website and it pulls your financial data. This is handy because when you sign in, you get a long list including what is owed to whom and when, and also how much you have in savings. You can set savings goals and it keeps track of those, and it's all very pretty.
It was very easy to add all of my accounts, and the whole process took about twenty minutes. I was very apprehensive about signing into ALL of my financial accounts through some new third-party, but since it was recommended by a friend and mint.com assured me that it won't do anything with this information, I decided to trust. I am a bit anxious, to be honest, but I'll give it a try.
After inputting your accounts, mint.com determines your monthly income and you can set up your budget. It figures out how much you pay on certain things and pre-totals how much you will likely spend in each category. This is where mint.com started to disappoint a bit. I charge pretty much everything, so mint.com has access to exactly how much I pay for certain things, but it consistently got it wrong.
For example, I noted in a previous blog that I spent $1110 on gas for 2010, or $93/month. Mint.com tried to tell me that I spent $45/month on gas--believe me, I wish that was the case. I spend $200 on food per month and that includes eating out--mint.com told me that I spend $325 on groceries alone. They also sent me an email alert telling me that my payment of 762.39 is due on my Chase account 01/04/2011. That's simply not true, in fact, I've overpaid that card and Chase actually owes me $45. They also keep insisting that I'm overpaying car insurance and that I'm paying $1,800 every six months, which is 224% more than the average. Sure it is, and that's why I only actually pay about $600 every six months.
In addition to miscalculating a lot of what I owe, mint.com also miscalculated my savings goal. I told them that I'd like to have a years' worth of expenses in my emergency fund. According to my calculations, that's about $10,000. Mint.com calculated $25,000--that's just extravagant! Sure, I'd like to have that much in my emergency fund, but I've got other things I need to pay for these days.
I'll keep using it, and see if these initial kinks smooth out. It is very handy the way all my accounts are right there, but I just don't know if I completely trust it. I feel like I've given up too much control.