Managing your personal finances used to mean that you downloaded MS Money or Quicken onto your PC/Mac and inputted your transactions manually. Then came auto download where the software accesses your financial institution and downloads the transactions.
Now, a number of online sites are doing the same for you. If you can get past the fact that your data is out of your hands — although storing personal finance data on a machine that can be unsecured is just as bad — and saved on a third party server, then Mint.com is for you. I’ve been using it for a few months now and having it automatically track my transactions. It flags certain criteria as they come up and can e-mail or send you an SMS warning you of low account balances, credit limits, etc.
The key feature that makes this a great product is that it is automatic. The hardest part is setting up the account and inputting in your username and password for each of your credit card, banks, and other accounts. After that, it’s automatic. You can run reports and trend your spending habits, even comparing it to other Mint.com users.