If you have been out of the loop and haven’t heard of Mint, or if you haven’t bothered setting up an account, this Mint.com review is for you. Mint is my favorite tool for managing my finances and I have been happily using it for over a year (before that I was all about Excel spreadsheets). Mint is free, a breeze to set up and offers tons of excellent features.
Mint.com at a Glance
Mint.com is one of the best ways to to view and manage your personal finances in one place. It automatically pulls data from your bank, credit card, brokerage and other financial accounts and allows you to manage your money from its website or mobile app. With just one login you can get an overview of your entire financial situation.
While you can’t transfer money, pay your bills or make stock trades through Mint, you can create and track your budget, look over your spending trends, set alerts and reminders and track your financial goals. You can also view available balances across all accounts, search through previous transactions and track your investment portfolio’s performance.
Setting Up Your Account
Unlike other popular money management software (such as Quicken), Mint is absolutely free. You can open an account at Mint.com. There are no upgrades or premium subscriptions, so you have instant access to all of the features when you create your account.
After logging in, the first thing you will want to do is connect your existing accounts to Mint. The process is simple – just type in the name of your financial institution, enter your login details and Mint will automatically download data from that account. Virtually every type of account is supported and Mint guarantees the privacy and safety of your information.
You can even add your other assets, such as your car, house or rental properties. I love how Mint automatically updates the value of your real estate by connecting to Zillow.
The dashboard gives you an overview of your finances. You can view account balances, asset values, net worth and a snapshot of your investment portfolio. The dashboard also displays the current month’s budget, your financial goals and spending trends.
The alerts section is a great addition to your Mint.com homepage. It displays important reminders, upcoming bills and notifies you of potential problems (such as overdue credit card payments). You can sign up to receive email reminders as well.
One of the best features of Mint is the ability to set and track your budget. You can set a monthly spending limit for each of the many categories and track your spending for each month. Mint automatically categorizes your account transactions and lets you know if you are under or over your budget in each category.
Another great feature of Mint is setting and tracking your financial goals. Your goals can be anything related to saving, investing or paying off debt. You create a new goal by choosing a goal type, setting a deadline and picking one or more appropriate accounts to track it. Mint will suggest a monthly contribution and will let you know if you are on track to completing your goals on time.
For example, you can use the goal feature to save for emergencies. When you pick a corresponding goal template, Mint suggests how much you should save, based on your average monthly expenses. You can then pick an account to serve as your emergency fund and set a deadline. Mint will suggest a monthly savings plan, which you can accept or adjust.
Spending Trends and Transactions
Since Mint can access and automatically categorize your transactions (you sometimes have to help it a little), it makes it very easy to study your financial trends. You can look at your spending, income, debt, assets and net worth over a variety of time periods and using different filters.
Mint can also be helpful if you’re trying to look up a particular transaction. Even if you don’t remember when it actually happened or which account you used, a quick search of your entire account history will help you quickly find it.
The investments section allows you to view your portfolio’s performance, compare it to common stock market indexes and get a snapshot of your asset allocation.
This part of Mint is unfortunately lacking, compared to its personal finance features. You cannot choose performance benchmarks (you are stuck with S&P 500, Dow Jones and NASDAQ), nor see a detailed breakdown of your asset allocation. This is definitely an area that Mint.com needs to improve.
I actually don’t use Mint to track my investments any more since I discovered Personal Capital.
What Mint does do right is its mobile apps. You can get Mint for your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or an Android tablet. Just like the desktop version, all Mint apps are free.
The mobile app gives you the same control over your budget, goals and spending trends, as offered by the Mint.com website. It is a great way to keep track of your money on the go. For example, you can get a quick idea about available account balances before making a purchase.
Mint.com Review Summary
Mint.com is one of the pioneers in the online money management industry, and I think it remains the best option, especially for managing your personal finances. It’s hard to beat so many great features offered for free. Its investments section is a major disappointment, however, and you will be better off with other tools, such as Personal Capital in this regard.
One of the first steps to making smarter financial decisions is to organize your finances. Mint.com is an excellent way to do that.
Do you use Mint to manage your money? Or perhaps you found a better alternative?