Having trouble tracking and managing your finances? Maybe you need a little help!
There are web based financial management tools that can help you get the job done if that’s where you need to go.
At the top of the list is Mint.com.
Should you try it and see if it can help with your money management? Millions of people are doing just that.
What is Mint.com?
Mint.com is a personal financial management application that allows the user to connect multiple accounts and track transactions in and between those accounts all in a single interface. Accounts include checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and credit cards—just about any financial account you’re using.
Basically, it gives you one place to see all of your accounts, with your computer or smartphone.
One major pain in personal finances is seeing one BIG PICTURE of all of your transactions. Mint helps you along by giving you one place to see everything. No more jumping from account to account, trying to see one bank deposit here and a credit card purchase there.
On top of the great features, Mint has a great price – FREE.
At the present time, it’s available only in the U.S. and Canada, but given how fast it’s growing you can count on it expanding into other countries in the not to distant future.
The company claims that it’s able to “reach to connect securely and to download transactions from virtually every bank, credit union and credit card account in the United States with online banking capability” which is something on the order of 16,000-plus financial institutions.
Though the company has only been in existence since 2006, it currently numbers its user base well into the millions.
Features of Mint
I’ve already talked about how you can see all of your account isn one place so let’s look at some of the other features Mint provides you:
Auto-categorization of your transactions
As transactions appear in Mint, the system will separate them into different categories to help you track where you are spending and where your money is coming from. This helps you see the types of spending that you do and can help you identify areas you need to be more careful with. The system will even separate out an ATM fee from a transaction so you can track how much you are being charged in ATM fees.
Setting up a budget is quick and easy. You can set up recurring expenses or budget for a one-time expense. You have the ability to compare your budget monthly or yearly. Mint will send out email and/or text alerts if you go over budget in a category.
See how easy it is to set up a budget:
On top of budget alerts via text and email, you can also set up alerts to tell you when account balances are low, to remind you to pay bills, alerts about unusual spending, when your credit card balances are getting high, when your credit score is getting stale, when a large purchase has taken place (you set what “large” means), and more. There are over 20 alerts you can set up.
Set up a goal in Mint and it will be tracked for you. You can check the progress of your goals in real time and get monthly emails tracking your progress.
What accounts you can connect to Mint
See them all in one convenient place. This makes budgeting easier since you can see way your money is going and coming from in one place.
Security and applications
Perhaps the most universal concern any of us have with any financial application is security.
How safe will our information be once it’s in the system?
Mint.com claims the following on their website:
“Mint…users…know their information is always secure. That’s because we use 128-bit SSL encryption–the same security that banks use–and all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe. Plus, since Mint is read-only, no money can be moved in or out of any account.”
The site also offers free mobile apps, which enable you to track your money on-the-go.
You can set a budget and create a plan to reach your personal financial goals. You can track your progress online or stay up-to-date with monthly emails. They can help you achieve your goals faster with helpful free advice and next steps to take.
Why use Mint.com?
You’ve probably gleened some reasons just from reading so far, but let’s summarize the answers to the “why” question:
- Mint.com is a free application so even if it doesn’t work out for you, you won’t be out any money; if it does meet your needs you’ll be way ahead of the game;
- Once set up, the system automatically pulls all of your financial information into one place;
- You can put your entire financial profile on a single application, even on a single page, which has enormous potential to streamline all things money in your life;
- It integrates well with Quicken—it’s sibling within the Intuit family—which is another common financial application used by millions of people;
- It can be set up in minutes and is very user friendly;
- If you’re a visual person, and many of us are, Mint.com provides graphs to chart your spending and savings habits and even to establish goals and budgets;
- The application is widely used (more than 6 million users and growing fast) which means you’re participating in an established community rather than venturing into something that’s new, limited or just plain weird.
How can it be free?
With all of these great features, how could Mint provide their service for free?
In analyzing your accounts and goals, Mint will let you know if there’s a bank account, credit car, or loan that may be better for you. If you choose one of these options, Mint gets a referral fee from the provider (just like I would get a referral fee if you chose to sign up for Mint through this article).
Mint will give you the biggest savings for you first, regardless of the referral fee, meaning your savings comes first.
There’s never any pressure to sign up either. If you never use one of their suggestions so be it. Of course, if they suggest something that really can save you money then it makes sense to check it out.
To sum up Mint.com
Overall, Mint.com provides an opportunity to improve your financial management system, or to implement one if you’ve never had one. It’s worth a try—after all—even if it doesn’t work it won’t cost you any money!