When it comes to personal finance, there are three things we know for sure:
1. America's love affair with credit cards has not gone well.
2. By and large, Americans seem to have realized that and are now spending more wisely.
3. Thanks to the internet, there are a number of free tools to help them do so.
Among those tools, the coolest kid on the block is undoubtedly Mint.com, which was recently bought by Intuit, the folks behind the massively popular Quicken family of financial management products. (In fact, Mint is so cool that Intuit dumped its own online product, Quicken Online, to focus on it.) Not only does Mint offer consumers a quick-and-easy overview of their financial standing -- including debt, savings, investments, and spending habits -- but thanks to a new "Goals" section, it now can help folks save for a home, retirement, or their next car, too.
If you don't already have a Mint account, it only takes a moment to sign up. After logging in, click the "Goals" tab, then hit "Buy a Car" and tell Mint how much you want to spend on your next ride. If you need help estimating your cost, Mint will ask you what kind of car you want (new or used, make, model, year, and trim level), then query its data partner, Kelley Blue Book, to provide an estimate.
After that, the discussion moves to financing: will you pay in full, or will you need to take out a loan -- and if so, what sort of monthly payment and interest rate are you hoping for? Based on that data and your target purchase date, Mint will calculate a total savings goal and the amount you'll need to set aside each month to reach it. And if you don't have a savings account, no biggie: Mint will even give you a rundown on possible places to stash your dough.
And that's it. Stick with your monthly goals, and you'll be driving a new set of wheels in no time. And hey, did we mention? It's free.
Full disclosure: many of us love Mint, so it's been especially hard to find fault with this new feature. But if you've tried financial management services online, you already know that Mint's is among the easiest to use -- and the most thorough. Our only complaint is that the "Goals" element isn't yet available on the outstanding Mint app for mobile devices. It seems kind of odd that a serviced designed to put you on the road isn't available to-go, but here's hoping it'll arrive soon.
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Kelley Blue Book, Mint.com Join Forces to Help Consumers Reach Car-Buying Goals
Integration of Trusted Kelley Blue Book Values Gets Mint Users on the Road to Vehicle Purchase
IRVINE, Calif., July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Kelley Blue Book, www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new and used car information, today announces a new relationship with Mint.com (www.mint.com), a leading free online personal finance service from Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU). Mint.com provides more than 3.5 million users with a fresh, easy and intelligent way to manage and do more with their money. Through the new agreement, trusted Kelley Blue Book Values will be seamlessly integrated into the Assets and new Goals features on Mint.com, allowing consumers to make more informed car-buying and selling decisions without having to leave the site.
With the addition of Kelley Blue Book's Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values for used cars, and invoice, manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) and New Car Blue Book® new-car data to Mint.com, Mint users can obtain the value of their current automobile and determine the worth or debt of that particular asset. With Mint.com's new Goals feature, users can plan and track their progress toward a long or short-term goal, such as buying a car. With the availability of Kelley Blue Book Values, users will have a better understanding of how much they need to save and how day-to-day spending will affect the achievement of their goals.
"Consumers are often unsure about the current value of their vehicle, how it can be leveraged toward a new car, or what steps they need to take to make such a big purchase," said Aaron Patzer, general manager and vice president of Intuit Personal Finance and founder of Mint.com. "By incorporating Kelley Blue Book Values into Mint.com, Mint users can do two really important things. First, they can easily add vehicle data to their accounts – so any loans they're paying against a car are balanced by the asset's value. Second, integration with Goals will help people understand the true cost of a new or used car, and effectively track their personal spending and saving to get there easily – and ultimately for less money."
Allowing Mint users to access Kelley Blue Book data provides a more convenient way to manage their money and better track their entire financial picture by eliminating the extra step of having to search for information on third-party sites.
"In developing this relationship, our goal was to keep the car owner and shopper top of mind," said Damon Bennett, vice president of business development and partnerships. "The vehicle information we provide is relevant to consumers' financial needs and working with Mint.com allows Kelley Blue Book to assist consumers at all levels of car buying and owning."