Three Things – Part 3

Third in the series, Mint.com.

I’ve talked about Twitter and the Kindle. Today is about making decisions based on data and not emotions.

“Seek not to know the answer, but to understand the question.” I can’t find who said this, but it’s very true.

As an example: Our family drives a bunch of gas guzzling cars (before you judge me … they are over 10 years old … and we do live in Texas, where they refer to the Chevy Suburban as the Texas Cadillac). Last year when gas was pushing $4 per gallon I came up with the brilliant answer. Let’s buy a Prius; we’ll save tons of money in a category that surely dominates the family budget.

Hmmm. A knee jerk answer to a question that I didn’t even ask yet, much less understand.

Over the course of the last 8 months I have a lot more data on the subject thanks to Mint.Com. I love Mint.com. Once you get over the shock of entering your bank account information into a random website, the magic starts to happen. Immediately, Mint.com downloads transactions and automatically puts them into some very reasonable categories. Over time, the data is fascinating (at least to me) to go through. My favorite tab is Trends, where you graphically see all the categories, can drill down into any of them, and you can rank order purchases you make to individual merchants. What did I find?

      -2.48% of what we spend is on Auto Fuel (that’s all? … Really?)

 

      -18% is spent on Food & Dining (uh .. oh)

 

      -14% is spent on Taxes (can’t help that)

 

      -12% is spent on Uncategorized (what’s the heck is this?)

 

    -8% is spent on Bills & Utilities (can’t help this much)

So did we buy the Prius? No. Still driving around our gas guzzling clunkers, until they break or we just flat out get tired of them. To be fair we do have one efficient car, a Civic Si which our son mostly drives. Until then we’ll dig around in that Food & Dining category and eat at home more!

A couple other great things about Mint. First, a really good iPhone app. Second, recommendations on “Ways to Save” which lead me to a 2% cash back card with Schwab which I now use almost exclusively for EVERYTHING. Free money … I like that. What’s this have to do with Video Communications? Well as a product company, we want to measure as many things as possible to drive toward features and new products that make a real difference. For instance:

      -How many dual display systems are in use?

 

      -How many people routinely make HD calls?

 

      -How many people make calls with more than 1 person at a time?

 

      -What’s the frequency of calls made from the redial list?

 

      -How many dual cameras?

 

      -How many operate in 720p30, 720p60, 1080p30?

 

      -Stats from Call Data Records?

 

      -Utilization of I/O ports?

 

      -How often are upgrades done?

 

      -How often are calls managed with Control?

 

    -… the list goes on and on and on Data driven.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It should permeate all aspects of how the business is run. And tools like Mint.com give a brutally honest look at aspects of your life that were previously hard to measure.

Give Mint.com a try. It’s fun too.

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