Mint.com users feeling the hurt, pinching pennies

Personal finance site Mint.com has gathered data showing that its users spent an average of $300 less per month in August than in January this year — a 6 percent drop suggesting that the site’s 500,000 users are adjusting to the economic downturn (at least a little better than Wall Street).

Anonymous data culled from free finance sites like Mint, Geezeo and Wesabe that allow users to track their bank balances, set budgets, and control different types of spending, may become good barometers for how the daily lives of regular people are influenced by tough economic times. Early members on these relatively new sites are likely to be younger and more tech-savvy than the average American, but this could change as more people turn to web tools to help them cut costs and weather the storm.

In particular, Mint.com users spent about 1 to 3 percent less per month on entertainment, shopping and travel expenses, which is not surprising. Neither is the sharp 4 percent monthly drop in spending on gifts and donations. Discretionary spending is always the first to go. These changes were countered by a small 2 percent uptick in spending on both gas and utilities and financial advising.

The site will continue to pull data on a regular basis to keep tabs on how the recession is affecting its use.

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