My Mint.com Review
When I was single and in my mid-20s I found myself spending a lot of my disposable income on stupid stuff. DVDs seem like the biggest waste ever…am I right? Restaurants, lavish gifts that I wanted to give but didn’t need to. Somewhere along the way I realized that I needed to start saving. Someday I’d want a nice house, need a new car, and I needed to start seriously thinking about my retirement fund. When I started realizing I had no idea where my money was going, I started looking for tools to help me manage my budget and see what I was spending my money on. I found Mint.com.
For those who aren’t aware of what Mint.com is, it’s a personal finance tool brought by the same people as Quicken, Turbotax, etc. You can sync up all of your accounts securely in Mint and it will log all of your transactions, allowing you to categorize them, track,and analyze. For anyone looking for a robust, free budgeting tool, I highly recommend using Mint. It’s really changed the way I view my finances.
Reviewing the basic features of Mint.com
The first thing you need to do to get the tool going is inputting all of your accounts into Mint. This requires you to provide username and password information. In this day in age, this can be seen as a very risky move. I have come to trust the site completely. And if you trust TurboTax with all of your personal tax information, and this is the same company, there isn’t much difference. They also boast to use the same security and encryption that banks use.
After you’re able to load your account information you’ll immediately get a glimpse into where you stand financially. The app and the website show similar information on the overview – Cash, Credit Cards, Investments, Loans, Property, and more. These accounts will sync with Mint when you log in pulling the most recent transactions.
Budgeting in Mint.com
One of the huge hurdles we have in our house is keeping to a spending budget. Mint makes it easier to track how we’re doing with their easy Budget section. The most simple concepts are sometimes the hardest to follow I think. I found that putting down our monthly income on paper (or online) really gave me more ownership and understanding of how grossly over budget I had been. And since all of your transactions are categorized, you can set budgets for each category and track how far over or under you are for each category. I tend to quote the amazing Dave Ramsey often in my house and the reason is because he is a genius. You need to put a name next to every dollar that you make. Give it a purpose and hold to it. This is a pact you need to make with yourself and one of the hardest ones my family has had to make. But Mint’s tools can give you a quick glimpse into how you’re progressing. It’s all about baby steps.
When I was saving for a house, I found the Goals tool very helpful. They have preset fields that help you calculate how much you’d need to save to meet a specific goal. There are Preset goals like “save for an emergency”, “save for a trip”, “save for college”. You can pick one of them or you can create your own. You can then set the saving goals as part of your budget which will help you ensure you are allocating the appropriate amount to your goals. The reason I like the goals option is that it also has a Projected completion date. I’m impatient so seeing how long it would take for me to complete my goal was motivating. It drove me to reallocate my budget in certain frivolous categories and put more towards my ultimate goals.
Using the Trends Option in Mint
I’m a data nerd so my favorite tool within Mint is the Trend section. They have great trending graphs so you can see over time how much is coming in, how much is going out, what your net income is, and you can see what your spending trend for specific categories are. This has helped me rebudget certain categories that change over time, such as gas.
For a free tool, I also found that the support forums are fantastic. I’ve had issues with certain accounts not syncing properly or accounts blocking access randomly. I was always able to search the user forums and find a quick answer or get a quick answer from the Mint team.
The downsides of Mint
Since Mint is a free tool, there will be some downsides. Mint is a third party site, not every financial institution allows Mint to sync data from them. If you have a large number of your accounts with one of these providers, then Mint won’t necessarily work for you. I found that a lot of store credit cards aren’t supported within Mint.
I find that for the most part the automatic categorization of transactions works pretty well but I find myself checking them every month. Certain transactions I want to place in a specific custom category. Also, all checks come through with just the amount so I often find myself wondering and trying to remember what I wrote a check for in order to categorize it properly. All in all, it doesn’t take a while to recategorize transactions. It is important to go through the transactions, however, if you’re relying on the trend reporting or budgeting tool in Mint as these categories will give you the cleanest view into how you’re really doing.
In the new year, my husband and I will be committing to try a few different budgeting tricks and tools. Hope you’ll check back to see some reviews on a few different tools. We’ll be tracking our progress and talk about what worked and what didn’t work for us.
I’d love to hear what works for everyone out there. Feel free to leave me a comment below!
Thank you for checking out my Mint.com Review!