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!
Brad Moore says
Glen….there was one pretty important issue I had w/ Mint.com…and trust me — I am all about free and tried my best to make Mint.com work. In fact, I was RECOMMENDING recommending it to clients.
But I digress. Anyhow…it does not work with (1) folks who have inconsistent income. It also does not work with (2) folks who are living paycheck to paycheck. It won’t because it is based on a monthly budget system (i.e. if you have a $4000 monthly budget then you need to have $4000 in your account at the 1st of the month….otherwise…it will not work. In addition, it is on a person having the exact same monthly income every month —if you are a real estate agent (i.e. commission-based), it will not work. You can look on the comments, questions, and forums with Mint.com and see these issues constantly being raised.
BUT…if none of these applies to you, I think it would be great! And all the features you mentioned are indeed excellent.
Track Your Bucks says
If you don’t mind uploading your bank, credit union, or credit card statements instead of having them pulled automatically (some people aren’t comfortable with the automatic access anyway), and if you fall into the situations mentioned by Brad above, my app: BuckTrak.com, might work for you. It’s also free, allows users to manage all of their financial information in one place, and I try to keep the advertising to a minimum.
Tim @ Faith and Finance says
We love mint.com, especially it’s free price tag. They keep adding cool features and it makes looking at your overall budget really simple. Good review Glen.
mike crosby says
Glen, I think Mint’s a good idea, but the main reason I want to use it is to keep track of all my accounts. And Mint unfortunately is not able to do that.
Spokane Al says
As a long time Quicken user who has become increasingly frustrated with problems in downloading financial data I have move to Mint. It works great.
In your review you state in part, “It integrates well with Quicken—it’s sibling within the Intuit family—which is another common financial application used by millions of people. . .”
Can you provide some specifics on how to accomplish this? How do I integrate my Mint and Quicken info?
Jeffrey Trull says
To me, the best thing about Mint is the mobile app. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mint until I got an iPhone. Now I enter in all my cash transactions in real-time into Mint so that I never forget to enter anything. It’s a huge help!
Glen Craig says
I so need a better phone so I can take advantage of cool, productive apps!
Glad to hear Mint is helping you.
Vi Ma says
I tried mint and it worked great. But there is one big issue that made me abandon it. My bank (TD Bank) requires that my banking password would not be shared with anyone, including any other software. I investigated and altough I am not 100% sure, I came to following conclusions:
– if I will not share my account password with anyone, including mint, then if there is any “hack” to my account, bank will refund any monetary damages.
– if I use mint and if somebody will hack my bank account, then bank might choose not to cover any monetary damages to my account.
So I stopped using mint and changed my password. I would love to use it if bank would let me…
1. FREE automatic downloads & sync from banks, credit unions and brokerage firms. (with Quicken you have to pay $10/mo. average per bank)
2. Categorizes downloaded items automatically for you
3. Let you export downloaded items in CSV format
4. Let you add transactions by hand
5. One button to filter and display all bank fees
1. No balance column
2. No reference code column that helps you reconciliate, enter check numbers and transaction ids
3. Can’t import data at all
4. No reports facility period
5. The All Accounts view does not display a column which bank or account the item comes from.
6. Can’t export to Quicken (Web Connect) or MS Money Format
7. CSV exports are unusable. One Amount column and one transaction type column (credit or debit) as opposed to one Credits and One Debits columns. No balance column.
Unusable for most people
Mint is a terrific concept and the app is a well thought out and elegant implementation of that concept. However, since Mint was bought by Inuit, the customer and technical support has been terrible. The majority of my accounts work fine, but I have been dealing with a host of issues with one of my accounts for the past 8 months. I have exchanged nearly 50 emails with Mint customer support and have yet to see the issues resolved. Nearly 20 of the emails represent exchanges when I have received what appears to be automated responses informing me that the problem has been solved and that the trouble ticket had been closed. This has been incorrect in EVERY case. None of the issues have been solved and the trouble tickets have to be reopened and often rehashed from the beginning. I have asked to speak to a technician on the phone to better explain the problems or to troubleshoot in real time, only to be told that this is not possible. I have asked that my case be escalated or that I be allowed to engage with a more senior visions service of technical representative (after 8 months on the same problem this seems appropriate) and have again been told that this is not possible.
So, great concept, great app, terrible support. If you happen to have accounts at institutions that Mint plays with its great. But if any of your institutions change their policies or systems, watch out. You could loose everything.
Another HUGE problem with Mint: YOU CAN’T PRINT. This sounds amazing, but it’s true — Mint’s graphs cannot be directly printed from the web browser. It always prints garbage. In all browsers. You could take a screen shot and print that, but what a ridiculous workaround! Don’t believe me? Check the Mint forums. This has been a pending issue for TWO YEARS. Mint’s support staff doesn’t respond to issues. Mint.com seems really useful at first, since it’s free, but within a short period of time, you’ll become infuriated at its shortcomings. Avoid.
Tim Mobley says
This is a thorough review of Mint.com. I personally use it and have head great feedback from clients. Can’t beat a useful free product.
Jennifer Brasher says
I’m wondering what exactly people are using mint.com for? I wanted to switch over from Quicken but Mint doesn’t allow you to reconcile your account AT ALL. There is apparently no way to reconcile. That’s how I keep an eye out for fraudulant charges – which happen more than they should. So what exactly are you supposed to do with Mint?
I’ve been using Mint for over 2 years now and like it a lot. Granted, I somehow managed to have accounts that worked great with the service so I haven’t had any issues. On the analitical side though, I think Mint is lacking a bit.
To get around this I built myself a Business Intelligence solution (I work in that field…) and let me tell you that Mint combined with such a solution it THE BEST!
I realize that not everyone is able to build their own Business Intelligence solution but with a little imagination, one can do A LOT with the mint extract csv files and a well built Pivot table in excel!
Give it a try !
Alan Hubbell says
sounds like a good way to keep track of one place.
Alan Hubbell says
sounds like a good way to keep track of everything in one spot.