Personal finance gets engaging with new iPad app

TORONTO Mon Nov 7, 2011 5:08am EST

A man smokes in front of an Apple's iPad advertisement in Taipei August 25, 2011.  REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

A man smokes in front of an Apple's iPad advertisement in Taipei August 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Tired of overspending? Confused about where all the money is going? A new iPad app aims to help users manage their finances.

Mint, a web-based personal finance manager, released the iPad app last week. It provides a snapshot of a user's financial profile by aggregating and categorizing data from banking, credit and trading accounts, as well as information on loans, mortgages and assets.

The data is displayed in sleek graphs and charts, which provide insight into financial balances across accounts, remaining budget allocation and spending habits across categories such as food and dining, shopping, movies, and travel.

"Eating out and shopping are the two areas of discretionary expenses that people will cut back on first," said Aaron Forth, vice president and general manager of the Intuit Personal Finance Group, which owns Mint.

The technology also allows users to get more granular information on their spending. They can investigate, for example, how they are faring with their monthly budget, or which transactions resulted in an unusually high food and dining expenditures last month.

The new features include new ways of visualizing and interacting with the data, which Forth said is especially conducive to tablets.

The app also includes a newsfeed that notifies users when they have gone over their budget and provides other personalized reminders and financial tips.

Cash transactions can also be entered on the app, which uses GPS to automatically determine location and categorize the transaction. So, if you're standing in line at shop and enter a transaction, the app will pick up the location, according to Forth.

Forth recommends three steps to manage finances.

"Pay down your debt. Create an emergency fund, at least six months, and contribute to your 401K (pension plan)," he said.

One drawback of the app is that it is not possible to split transactions. Purchases in a department, whether it is food or clothing or books, are not attributed to a particular category.

Forth said the company is aware of the problem.

The iPad app comes almost three years after Mint launched the iPhone app in 2008. A similar app called PageOnce also allows users to track their finances and to pay bills through the app for a monthly fee.

iPhone and Android apps are also available but Mint only supports financial institutions within the United States and Canada only.

(Reporting by Natasha Baker; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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