(Mostly) Free Web Tools: Manage Your Money with Mint

Andrew Lock


With prices going up — a lot — here’s a handy tool to monitor your spending. It’s called Mint.com, and I know some of you are already using it, which is great. It’s a free service that links securely to your bank account and credit cards, and it gives you a detailed, constantly updated report on where the money goes.

Not only that, but it can see opportunities for saving money, and it will present those to you, too. Now there’s some very clever super-geek technology behind it, but don’t worry about that. Just use it, and you’ll like it. I promise.


This NiftyClick is a fun one, and it’s free, too. Think of it as Pandora for video. It’s a site called Fast Forward, shortened to Ffwd.com. And it’s a service that allows you to easily find entertaining videos in topics that you’re interested in. Unusually, you can find shows from regular TV and the Web. Just click on categories that fit your interests, and they’ll be added to your account.

The main video window will display shows that it believes match your tastes, and it will learn from the way you interact with it. So if you give it a low rating for a particular show, you probably won’t see that show again. And if you particularly like a show, you’ll see more of that type of content. Get the idea?

You can also save a video, share it with others or see a list of similar videos. It’s the best way I’ve seen to navigate good quality Web and TV content. And it’ll probably enable you to discover great new shows that you wouldn’t have otherwise come across.

(Click for larger image)


Now this one took me a long time to find, but boy was it worth it. Everyone I share this with can’t believe how amazing the quality is. It’s called Cover-Action-Pro.com and you can get it at cover-action-pro.com. In one or two clicks it creates the most stunning graphics: eBook covers, CDs, DVDs, magazine covers, software boxes and so on. And not only is the quality the best I’ve ever seen, it produces the graphics in 300 dpi, which means they’re print quality so you can use them on post cards, mailers and so on.

The only downside is that you need Adobe Photoshop version 7 or higher, because it’s a plugin for Photoshop. Now on the positive side, I had a look on eBay and I found Photoshop 7 for less than $100, so bear that in mind. But the bottom line is, if you need these kinds of graphics, there’s nothing that comes close to the ease and the quality of Cover-Action-Pro.

(Click for larger image)

Mail Chimp

Every business should be building an e-mail database of its customers and regularly keep in touch with them with e-mail correspondence. Now if you’re just starting out or money’s tight, a full-service offering from someone like Infusion or Constant Contact might not be the right fit. But one option that has a great reputation is MailChimp.com — great name.

Although its basic service is completely free, there are some paid options as you grow your business. And I was impressed at the number off well-known companies that use it, like Canon, Staples, Intel and American Airlines to name just a few. The reporting features are just the icing on the cake because they allow you to see all kinds of useful stats and reports every time you send an e-mail out.

It’s unusual to see a company that caters to the complete beginner right up to powerful corporations, and I also like the way they walk you through the process. If you’re in need of a reliable e-mail service, why not check out MailChimp.com.

You’ll find lots more marketing tips and resources from Andrew Lock in our Small Business Essential series, Lock in Your Marketing Resources.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses “get more done and have more fun.”

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Must Read

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Daily Tech Insider for top news, trends, and analysis.