Dodge financial dilemmas on mint.com

by Brittany Fasano

Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

Whether swimming in cash or drowning in a sea of debt, budgeting remains the most important aspect of financial success. By eliminating the hassle of collecting receipts and calculating figures, mint.com makes budgeting a relative breeze.

Mint is a secure personal accounting website that is free and easy to use. It allows users to keep track of checking, savings and credit accounts in one place.

After creating an account, the site automatically organizes transactions and groups income and expenditures. Then, it utilizes graphs and pie charts to visually display how money is being spent. Mint recommends different ways to budget money based on a user’s account information.

It also alerts users when they are charged notable fees and when any unusual activity occurs. It is Mint’s goal to assist students as they work to maintain savings goals by tracking spending and investments, providing tangible objectives and transmitting bill reminders.

With proper use of this website, users could even end up making money. “I really like how easy (mint.com) is to use,” anthropology senior Tina Hughes said after reviewing the site. “I will definitely give this website a try, especially since I will be graduating soon and need all the help I can get financially.”

Even if students are cautious of their spending, it’s easy to overspend by purchasing designer coffees, shopping or indulging in nights at the bar. The average amount of credit card debt for college students is $2,000. To avoid constantly running out of money and into debt, start budgeting by categorizing all sources of income.

Then make a list of fixed costs, estimate expenses of discretionary items (such as food, laundry and entertainment) and add some extra for emergencies. Sticking to a simple budget plan like this allows college students to identify where money is going and how to successfully save. “My parents give me $300 a month and I make it last,” interior design sophomore Tatyana Maslyanko said. “I try not to spend money on anything I don’t need.”

Sixty-six percent of students receive funds from home while 49 percent work part time. To earn extra cash, consider starting a business, selling items on eBay, searching for jobs on campus or learning to invest. To save money, inquire about student discounts, shop for reduced-price items, utilize coupons and avoid buying textbooks until they’re needed. Those seeking the extra help of Mint may find themselves asking if it’s really all that safe.

Mint protects usernames and passwords with the same level of security as a financial institution. None of the information is available on the site and only the user’s email is linked to his or her account. This means no one can access users’ account information with a password. All sensitive information is encrypted and hidden in an unmarked building. Students looking for a simple, automated system to track spending and accomplish basic budgeting should check out mint.com. There’s nothing to lose.

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