Mint is an incredibly popular personal finance software option. I’m not positive, but I believe it may be the most widely used of all the personal finance software options out there. According to their website there are currently over six million people worldwide using Mint. Free to try and available online, Mint offers a wide variety of tools, access worldwide, and a plethora of options to track your finances.
What’s Mint all about?
Rather than get into great detail about Mint Getting Started With Mint
Signing up for Mint.com is simple, and free. Once on the Mint homepage simply select the “get started” button. You’ll be prompted to enter your email, country, zip code, and then create a password.
Once your account is created you’ll be prompted to start a three step process as seen in the image below:
Step 1 – Bank and/or credit card information – In this step Mint asks you to enter the name of your bank or credit card company. Once you find the financial institution you’ll be prompted to enter your account name and password with that institution. Mint will then link directly to your financial institution to gather your accounts.
During this step you can add as many accounts as you’d like. If you have security questions when you log into your financial accounts you will be prompted with them on Mint as well.Once you’ve entered your first account you can add more and you’ll be prompted with options (as seen on the image on the right). At this point simply enter all the information about your financial picture that you can so that the software can get a clear image of your whole situation.
Things you’ll be asked about include:
- Savings Accounts
- Credit Cards
- Investment Accounts
- Real Estate
- Your Credit Score
Once you close out the box you’ll enter your normal user screen which showcases your accounts, any offers Mint currently has for your, and a screen that asks you if you want to take a tour of Mint.
I would strongly encourage taking the tour to get familiar with the software. Although I go over some of the steps in this review, their tour is much more detailed, considering after all, that it is their product.
Features Features Features
Once you start the tour Mint will begin to showcase the features the software offers, which include:
Alerts – Using SMS (on your phone) and email updates, Mint can alert you with weekly financial summaries, when bills are coming due, and potential late fees or odd account activity.
Advice – This is probably one of the neatest features of Mint. Based on your financial picture Mint will give advice, compliments, and areas you can work on to improve your financial picture. If you’re getting a low cd rate or paying too much in interest Mint can offer you advice to improve your finances.
Bills – Shown on a calendar timeline, your bills are organized by date so you can see when they’re coming up. They’ll also send email alerts to warn you of upcoming bills.Budget – The budget tool simply allows you to create a budget which Mint will then track and compare your actual spending to.
Taxes – Based on your finances Mint will estimate your refund check, give ideas for possible deductions, and offer products useful to preparing your taxes.
Goals – This is where you can place your financial goals ranging from paying off loans to saving for a trip. Having them written adds accountability and reminds you to stay on track.Investments – This is where Mint shows your investment accounts where you can see balance trends, rate of return, and of course be offered brokerage products from Mint.
Ways to Save – This is how Mint makes it’s money. Offering you financial products that may fit your needs based on your spending habits. Mint can offer products that suit you since your financial picture is added to the software. Mortgages, loans, credit cards, checking accounts, and more are offered.
Trends – See how your spending, income, and net worth increase or decrease over the course of months and years.
Accounts – See all your accounts in one place to keep your finances at your fingertips without needing to log into each account individually.
Common Concerns / Drawbacks of Mint
If you’re using smaller financial institutions including many credit unions Mint will not be able to pull your information directly from your online accounts. This pretty much makes Mint pointless since you can get a full and complete financial picture uploaded to the software. However, if most of your accounts are with big financial institutions you’ll be able to easily upload your information to the software.
Having used Mint for several months I like the intuative nature of the software, it’s ability to offer me products that may save me money, and the email updates for bill reminders (since I can often be forgetful).
However, Mint is simply a tool to look at your current financial picture without offering much for moving money around, using an envelope style system.
If you’re just getting started in organizing your personal finances Mint is a great place to start since it’s free, gives you the big picture, and reminds your of the basics. However, it’s fairly limited other than offering your products and giving you a snapshot of your current and past financial picture.
In all I strongly recommend Mint to anyone interested in getting their personal finances in order and are just beginning to organize themselves try out mint.com today for free.