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Hero: Aaron Patzer
CEO, Mint.com

"I rarely dine out. Instead I learned to cook (which impresses the ladies). It is healthier and saves a lot of money. To celebrate Mint's Series A financing, I made filet mignon for two." -- advice on Mint.com blog

The twentysomething founder of Mint.com, a free online budgeting tool, has a bold mission: Turn the savings rate for people under 40 from negative to positive. Patzer says Mint.com can do that by taking the pain out of budgeting.

That effort starts with Mint.com's patent-pending technology that automates much of the data entry that traditional money management programs like Quicken require. Then the site shows users dozens of ways to improve their finances (such as suggesting higher-yielding options for stashing their savings) and makes tracking their spending fun (ever wonder how much you spend on groceries or restaurants compared to other people in the same city?).

Patzer is particularly focused on younger people because they are most likely to be saddled with student loans, credit card debt and little savings. But thanks to the economic downturn, Mint.com is catching on fast with the older crowd, too: The median age of users is now 31, up from 27 when the site launched in 2007.

The site now has more than 600,000 users, making it the largest player in the free online money management space that includes Wesabe and Rudder. Managing your money might never be as fun as Mint.com promises - but anything that makes budgeting easier is a good thing. --D.R.

NEXT: Hero: Bruce Marks
Last updated December 12 2008: 6:01 AM ET
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