Ms. Doodles adores Mint. While I enjoy the strongly scented herbs that oh-so-freshen your breath, I refer to the web-based financial management service acquired by Intuit (the makers of Quicken and Quickbooks).
For over a year, Ms. D incorporated the free application in her financial routine. And whew… It was enlightening. Although every month, I allocate a portion of the net monthly income. The rest — as it turns out — I frivolously spent.
Signing up with Mint
The initial sign-up is easy.
1. Choose your username and password.
2. Validate the account.
3. Add accounts into the system: Credit cards, loans, investments, etc.
4. Mint downloads data from your financial institutions.
The site has seven (7) main tabs: Overview, Transactions, Budgets, Goals, Trends, Investments, and Ways to save.
1. Overview: Every time I access the Mint.com, the site automatically refreshes my data and takes me to an overview of my accounts. This page can be customized to your preference.
2. Transactions: All financial transactions are listed in this tab. The transactions can be filtered by account, keyword, or category.
3. Budgets: Based on your financial habits, Mint will have enough information of your current spending. It tracks income, spending, and monthly goals. For the initial budget, it will propose a starting allocation to monitor. Mint sends an alert when nearing the monthly allocation or any overspending.
**Modifying the budget is very user-friendly. I like that Mint keeps track of past income-spending history.
4. Goals: Mint helps solidify your goals. You set the goal amount and it will track your progress. It gives you the projected date versus the planned date. The example below shows the information for each goals.
Example: 10K Fund
Goal amount: $10,000
Today’s balance: $6,244
Planned date: 8/1/2013
Projected date: 8/13/2013
This month: $7
5. Trends: One of Mints strengths is the trends. While it will take a few months of data to graph, your financial information, it is worth the wait. It demonstrates the upturn or downturn of your spending, income, net income, assets, debt, and net worth.
**Definitely one of my favorite tools in Mint.
6. Investment: Mint tracks your investment, may it be retirement plans, IRA, taxable accounts, etc. However, it is a poor tool for intensive analysis.
7. Ways to Save: This tab is where Mint makes its money. It shows options for banking, investments, insurances, and finding credit score. It offers choices based on your financial health and performance.
**Since this is a free service, it needs to make money somehow. Unfortunately, the offerings may be misleading or may not be for your best interest. Incorporating some reviews in this area may increase its usefulness.
* Strong budgeting allocation and goal setting.
* Mint automatically generates categories for transactions. Very few entries are categorized incorrectly.
* Account transactions are automatically downloaded and incorporated.
* Produces informative graphs from its Trends.
* A decent android application. (Don’t know about iPhone.)
* Poor suggestions on its Ways to Save feature.
* Generates a lot of targeted marketing based on transactions.
* Poor investment tools.
The budgeting tool helped me correct my spending habits. The goal application tracked my progress with ease. And watching my net worth increase (albeit slowly) inspired me to do better.
If you are comfortable with online tracking and not easily irritated by the targeted ads, this may be a great tool to jump start a better financial habits.