Seriously, Mint is the Best Financial Tool I’ve Ever Used
When I was relatively new to budgeting I stumbled upon this website that claimed to make managing a budget much easier. I didn’t put much thought into signing up, but figured I would go ahead and try it out anyway. So, I logged into Mint and started exploring what the site could do. That was over 5 years ago and I haven’t gone a month without logging on and using this budgeting tool to it’s fullest. I should note, I have not tried any other online budgeting tool, but that’s because when you find something excellent there is no need to go search for a replacement.
What Actually is Mint?
Mint is a personal budgeting tool that allows users to sync up all of their financial accounts to get accurate and up to date information which can then be tracked and organized. I’ve talked about the benefits of budgeting before and this tool will prove to be invaluable in achieving those same ends.
What’s So Good About It?
There are several reasons why Mint is so great, I’ll list as many as I can think of.
Financial Account Integration
This is probably the most integral aspect of the budgeting tool, because it allows for a living breathing budget that can account for nearly every dollar you own. However, this is also the biggest deterrent many people have to taking advantage of such an awesome tool. I had my initial hesitations when Mint asked me to input my login information for all of my financial accounts, but I was reassured that the security of the site is top of the line. Keep in mind that the livelihood of Mint and it’s parent company, Intuit (owner of TurboTax, Quicken, and QuickBooks), absolutely depends on indisputable integrity and extreme security. I have had no regrets since linking all of my financial accounts up with Mint.
Budgeting is Easy
Creating and maintaining a budget is very fast and painless. When you first sign up, Mint automatically picks out basic categories and tries to distribute all of your transactions into the appropriate places. This distribution isn’t perfect, but it is really helpful in beginning the process of categorizing everything. You have full power over this budget and you can add/remove any categories to your liking! It does all of the calculations for you on the fly and the presentation in the form of bar charts is extremely easy to follow even at a glance.
Trends and Charts
An awesome feature Mint provides is the trends section. It will graphically show you how your spending, income, and any other financial habits have changed over time. Since your financial accounts already provide dates on every transaction it allows you to see these trends on day one when you sign up! A fun one to track is how your net-income has changed overtime, I can almost pinpoint the time I began budgeting because of the sudden rise in my net-income early in my transaction history. You can see the effect that big life events have had on your financial well-being and use that information to plan for upcoming big life events.
Set and Achieve Goals
Mint also has a neat feature that will help you plan for any goals you may have. When you set a goal, you can choose what kind of goal it is and Mint will walk you through how much money you need to put away each month in order to achieve that goal in a desired time-frame. It also allows you to approach your goal from the other way around. Mint will tell you how long it will take to meet your goal given some amount you are willing to put away each month. By switching between those formats you can fine tune how you want to achieve your goal. When you save a goal, it will automatically be incorporated into your monthly budget. This has been instrumental when I purchased my first car and when I bought my first house!
Get a quick visual overview of how your investments are doing. This is an easy way to see which of your stocks are doing well and which ones you might want to consider selling. It also helps you keep track of how much is in your retirement funds like 401k or Roth IRA. This is vital information that is normally spread over several different website. The convenience of seeing all of your financials together in one place is a huge time saver.
Updates and New Features
Mint is always improving and adding new useful tools. An example of this is when they added a car value tracker that keeps an updated account of what your vehicle is worth based on it’s Kelly Blue Book value. This was a welcome surprise to me and I instantly took advantage of it.
It’s Totally FREE!
That’s right! It’s free to sign up and use nearly every tool that the site provides. There’s gotta be a catch right? Well, there doesn’t have to be in this case because of how Mint supports itself. It makes all of it’s money through referrals. Have you ever gotten an advertisement from your bank offering you $500 if you can get a friend or family member to sign up for a checking/savings account? That’s exactly what Mint does except on a much larger scale. Any time a user follows a link to some financial institution from Mint and signs up for an account then they will be compensated for that referral. It is at no increased cost to the user who followed the link. So, the entirety of Mint’s business outlook is to be mutually beneficial to all parties involved in the process.
Make an Account Already!
Seriously, make an account on Mint.com. There is a lot more to discover, you will not regret it! Mint works best through continued use, so you will have to keep up with it, even if it’s just once a month.