This review of Mint.com is based on my use of the service for the better part of 3 years. Yes, I’ve used it all this time and I must tell you – I like it very much. The best part? It’s free to use! How can you beat that?!
Below, I will go into detail about this site, and give you all that I know about what makes Mint.com great (I also point out a few flaws).
As you know it is very important but also often very hard to get your finances right and to commit and stick to a budget. Luckily, there are some great online tools available that can help you along the way. One of these tools to help you manage your money is the financial services offered by Mint.com. It is essentially a free to use personal finance and budgeting tool that could really benefit you and your family.
What Is Mint.com?
Mint has been around for some time now. When they first started, they were truly pioneering the world of online personal finance. They were an inspiration for many other companies who mirrored their tools on Mint. Many of these companies have ended up disappearing over the years, but Mint is not just still there, they have actually grown stronger. Today, they are known to be one of the most useful online tools of its kind out there. It is believed that when Intuit acquired Mint, their tools and services became truly stellar. Intuit is known for their range of financial software applications such as TurboTax, QuickBooks and Quicken.
Essentially, Mint is a free web application that allows you to connect all your different pieces of financial information, including your bank accounts, your credit cards, your investments and more. This, put together, gives you a fully up to date and complete look of your financial health and current budget. It can currently be used only by people in the US and Canada and it offers one of the most comprehensive set of features available on the market today.
What Makes Mint so Popular?
There are many reasons as to why Mint has always been, and will likely continue to be, popular. The fact that it is free to use is definitely a great element to this. Additionally, it is fully comprehensive as you are able to link all your different financial tools to the system. Many tools like it only allow you to see what money you have available and how it is moving. Mint also offers this, but they do so much more as well.
For instance, through Mint, you can create a full household budget. If you don’t stick to this budget, the system will alert you. It will also show you where your money is spent in terms of your bills, helps you to set up realistic saving goals and, most importantly, ensures you stick to these goals. The service does not actually touch your money, but you provide it with read-only access. Based on that, the system can suggest various financial tools and products to you that may help you to save money in the long run. This includes things such as a high interest savings account or a low interest credit card.
Another thing that makes Mint very popular is that it is available on all types of platforms, including desktop, Android, iOS and Windows Phone. This is something they were able to achieve after they were acquired by Intuit, which is a very significant pedigree to have. By fully utilizing the services offered by Mint, it becomes easier to manage your tax payments and to stick to a realistic budget for your household.
Mint has recently updated their classic components, as well as adding a new set of features to it as well. This has improved the service even further. The new features include:
1) Asset management and net worth calculator.
Through Mint, you have always been able to quickly and easily link all your different financial accounts. When setting up the service, the system runs through a list of questions to identify your different accounts, which can then be linked without ever leaving the secure Mint system itself. When the system was first set up, only basic bank accounts could be added. Thanks to the new asset management and net worth calculator, however, you can add all different types of financial accounts. This includes savings accounts, checking accounts, credit card accounts, stock brokerage accounts, car loans, mortgages, student loans and more. The system is also able to create a good estimate of how much your real estate holdings are worth. In so doing, it can create a real time picture of your current net worth. This can be a great motivator to help you save money and pay off your debts.
2) Tracking trends and creating a budget.
Next, Mint offers a brand new budgeting tool. Within it, you can set up various categories for your monthly budget and attach the amount you will spend to these categories. If you make a transaction, the system will determine which category that transaction belongs to so that you can see exactly where your money is going. If you need to stick to a budget for certain things such as clothing or dining out, this tool is incredibly useful. You can also tell the system to send you telephone or email alerts whenever you go over your allocated budget. You also get a range of different charts that you can use in relation to your budgeting information. This allows you to have a visual representation of how you spend your money. Thanks to the tracking trends functionality, you are also able to see how your own personal spending compares to other people who use Mint. Additionally, the graphs can show you whether you are setting budgets that are highly unrealistic. If, for example, the average family of four with a tight budget, spends $200 a week on grocery shopping, it would be unrealistic for you to drop that to just $100, unless you are an extreme couponer as well.
3) Goal setting functionality.
Mint has created a huge list of common goals that people set themselves in terms of their finances. Alternatively, you can customize your very own personal goals. This new functionality allows you to plan for your long term financial future and see how you are progressing towards achieving that future. Some of the most common goals included in the list are “getting out of debt”, “saving for a vacation”, “buying a car” and so on. It is really recommended to use a saving goal. This tool is great to help you find areas in your life where you could spend less, deciding to transfer it to your savings instead. The goal setting functionality is perfect to help you find out how you are moving along towards achieving your personal goals.
4) Ways to save.
This is not a new functionality on Mint, but it is the tab that has long been the most popular. Hence, Mint does all they can to make sure it remains up to date and user friendly. Essentially, it is designed to look at the various specific items that are included in your budget before analyzing them as a comparison to interest rates and prices on websites that have partnered with Mint. If one of these partner organizations has an option that would save you money, then Mint will alert you to this, recommending you switch your service. A common place where people find out that they can save money is on their credit cards. A lot of different credit card providers have partnered with Mint, which means that the system will always be able to tell you whether switching to a different card may be beneficial to you. They may, for instance, find a card with a lower APR, or a card that offers a 0% balance transfer, which means you no longer have to pay interest on your balance. However, they don’t just look at credit cards. Indeed, Mint has also partnered with cable TV, internet and cell phone providers to name but a few. Do remember, however, that just because a package may be cheaper, it may not be everything you are looking for it. Additionally, the partner companies pay Mint to advertise them, which means you won’t see any deals outside of these partner organizations. Hence, you should always compare the market yourself as well.
What I Liked about Mint
- The platform can be fully customized to your own personal needs. You can look at every separate element of your spending habits. This system is like a little piece of heaven for people who love work with numbers.
- Mint is completely free to use, unlike many other similar systems. While many systems do offer basic accounts for free, you will always have to pay for extra functions. Not so with Mint. Every feature and tool that the service offers is completely free and available to you.
- The system also checks your current credit score for free, which means you have an up to date picture of your personal financial situation.
- Mint works on all different platforms. Whether you want to use it on your desktop, laptop, Android smartphone, iOS device, Windows Phone, tablet or any other device, it will work so long as you have an internet connection. You will also receive alerts across those devices, so if you go over budget or have something else that you should look at, you will know about it straight away.
- The interface is absolutely fantastic. It is very user friendly and presents highly complex accounting and financial information in a way that is easy to understand. The colorful graphs are particularly beneficial, as they show you at a glance what you are spending on and how that compares to the rest of the world. It is particularly beneficial to help you get out of debt and save money.
- It is owned by Intuit, who have a reputation of building some of the best online financial tools.
What I Didn’t Like about Mint
- Their customer service leaves something to be desired. It can be really difficult to actually get to speak to a real person, particularly in terms of online help. In fairness to Mint, they are working very hard at improving this, which is something Intuit is also supporting through their impressive experience. However, it seems that the issue is mainly in relation to how many members of staff they have and the difficulties will probably continue to be in place until that is addressed.
- There are some issues with security. While Mint uses some of the best security systems and encryption packages that exist, the reality remains that you literally put all of your personal and sensitive financial information in one place. If someone were able to hack your account or Mint as a whole, this information could be released to the world. Unsurprisingly, Mint is often under attack from hackers.
- The automation could be improved slightly. When placing each transaction into a category, it often gets the category wrong. While you can then manually change it, this is a lot of work, particularly since one of the benefits of Mint is supposed to be that they offer a fully automated process.
- You will be exposed to advertising and promotion. This is natural because Mint is a completely free service and they have to get their money from somewhere. It seems that most their money comes from credit card companies. While it is certainly true that you will get timely alerts to show that you can save money somewhere, you may find yourself tempted to take out credit cards that you don’t really need, simply because they are advertised so heavily.
The Final Review and Verdict
Mint has been around for a long time and it has always been popular. However, now that it has been purchased by Intuit, it seems to have improved itself even more. Mint has always been a pioneer and an example of best practice when it comes to online financial tools and their new features and functionalities once again set the bar for others.
The system can be used across different devices. It allows you to look at where you spend your money, such as your household budget, your entertainment, your food, your gas and electric and so on. Best of all, it does all of this in real time so that you always know how much you have and where it is. Plus, you will receive alerts when you go over a certain milestone, which is really beneficial to help you save money.
Security is an issue because of the fact that so much sensitive information is stored on Mint. At the same time, however, Intuit has always known the importance of good security. Hence, they have put appropriate measures in place to keep your information safe.
I fully recommend Mint to help you manage your personal finances.
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