Mint.com – A Fresh Look at Your Finances

Do you have a hard time keeping up with where your money is going? It’s hard enough to know how much you have in your checking account, not to mention how much you have it other accounts or owe on loans or credit cards. As tax season rapidly approaches, most of us realize that we need to do a better job at keeping up with our money. Problem is, most programs for managing your finances are expensive and difficult to use.

Managing your finances isn’t a hopeless quest, though. Today we’re going to look at Mint.com, a popular finance management web app that helps you keep up with all of your accounts, budgets, and more. Mint was acquired by Intuit, the company behind Quicken and TurboTax, in 2009, but it’s kept its original simple interface and no-nonsense approach to managing finances while bringing tighter integration with TurboTax. Keep reading to see if Mint is what you need to get your finances under control.

Getting Started

As far as web apps go, Mint has been around for a fairly long time. It was launched in 2007 as a startup, and quickly grew to help millions manage their finances. It’s easy to feel concerned about managing your sensitive financial information from a webapp, but Mint has made their service as secure as most banking sites.

All data saved on Mint is 128-bit encrypted, is regurally monitored by VeriSign and other security services, and is now backed by Intuit, one of the largest financial software companies. Plus, Mint can only see your financial data, but can’t actually move money to or from accounts. This all makes Mint a pretty safe option for managing your finances from your computer browser or mobile device.

Mint.com's homepage gives you a quick overview of their service

So, let’s get started. Just head over to the Mint Signup Page and create a new account. We’d recomend using a complex, unique password with Mint, just like you would with your bank website, Paypal, or anything else highly private.

Add Your Accounts

As soon as that’s done, you can start adding your financial accounts to Mint. Select from popular banks, credit cards, and loans if you have an account with them, or enter your bank’s name in the search box to find it. Mint worked with all of my accounts, including a fairly small local bank, so odds are it’ll work with all of your accounts as well.

Do note that Mint only works with US and Canadian financial institutions.

Get your financial accounts added quickly

You’ll need to enter your bank account info that you would use to login to your bank’s website. This may include your account number, online ID, password, or pin number, depending on your bank. Some financial institutions require quite a bit of information to access your account, so be prepared with any info you’d normally use to login online.

Mint is the most handy for showing a full overview of your finances, so we’d recommend adding all of your personal bank and investment accounts, credit cards and loans, and anything else financial you want to keep up with.

Enter your account info so Mint can automatically add your income and expenses

Once you’ve added accounts, you can edit the details about each account listed. You can enter standard fees and interest for the account so Mint can automatically calculate them, or hide accounts you don’t want listed. This is especially handy if your online banking login lets you access more accounts than you want to show in Mint with your personal finances.

Hide or show accounts to make Mint only show what you want.

Keep Up With Your Finances

Now, Mint’s all ready to help you keep up with your finances. Even if you never change any settings, you’ll start seeing useful data on your dashboard to make sense of your money. Your accounts are listed on the left, with the total net value underneath. You’ll also see alerts about your spending, recommendations for savings, and your budget.

Get a quick overview of all your financial info

Do note that sometimes you may have to reauthorize your financial accounts. Many banks will only let Mint stay logged in for 2 weeks or less, so you’ll need to login and reauthorize your accounts. The good thing is, this only takes a second, and you can do it right along with anything else you need to do in Mint.

You may need to re-login to your accounts occasionally

Now, from the transactions page, you can see a ledger of all of your debits and credits. By default, Mint will show you a combined view with transactions across all your accounts, but you can view individual accounts as well. Everything will be automatically categorized, and usually Mint gets it right.

If you’d like to change a category, split the purchase amount between multiple categories, or anything else, just select the category and edit the details there or click Edit Details to tweak it further.

Feel free to change transaction categories if Mint doesn't get it right

Want a quick glance at where your money is going? Click the Trends tap to see beautiful graphs showing where your money is going. You can see a graph of your net value over time, income changes, spending trends, and more. Select a category to drill down and see what you spent in that category. Mint shows how much can be done automatically with the data in your accounts, and really does a great job of making it accessible without learning difficult data manipulation tricks.

Get a glance at where your money is going with dynamically generated charts

Stay on Your Budget

Beyond keeping up with all of your accounts and expenses, Mint is great for keeping on track of your budgets. Since it’s already tracking what you’re spending, it can automatically know if you’re staying in your budget and alert you when you’ve gone over. This is a great way to make sure you use your money wisely and don’t overspend.

Head over to the Budget tab to add new budgets to your account. Choose a category for the budget, then choose how long the budget is for and how much you want to allocate for this category. Once you’ve chosen a category, Mint will automatically show a graph on the right with your average and the US average spending in this category. This was one of the few areas that the chats didn’t totally work in our test; as you can see, it shows I spend an average of $11 on books per month, but the chart shows I spend around $1,500 per month on books. One could dream!

Mint shows your average spending on that category, and helps you create a budget you can work with

Now, Mint will automatically notify you when you go over your budget. You’ll also be able to easily see how you’re doing on your budget from the Mint dashboard or the Budgets page. You can even see at a glance when you were above or under your budget. Select the months you wish to see, and Mint will highlight them with green if you stayed in your budget or red if you went over.

If Mint does not automatically categorize your purchases, they won’t show up against your budget. Make sure to check and make sure everything’s being counted.

See at a glance if you're staying on budget

It’s not enough to just keep your spending in check. If you’re wanting to save for an upcoming trip, your children’s college, a new car, or anything else, you’ll need to be regularly saving money and making sure you don’t skip. Mint includes a wide variety of goal planners that help you make attainable goals based on your budgets and what you’re saving for. It’s almost like a virtual financial planner!

Mint can help you save for your goals, too.

Saving Money With Mint

While budgeting and setting savings goals can definatley help you save money, Mint goes even farther. It’ll try to find ways for you to save on interests on your credit cares and loans, as well as find investment and savings accounts with higher interest rates than the ones you’re currently using. These can help you save even more money.

This is also how Mint remains free: they make a commission from refering users to new, lower interest credit cards and better savings accounts. Even still, the suggested accounts are often quite good deals, so it’s worth checking to see if you can find more ways to save.

Find ways to save on loans and credit cards and get more interest in savings and investments

Conclusion

Whether you’re wanting to stay on top of your actual net value better or want to see how much you’re truly spending on food each month, Mint is a valuable too that can help you get your finances under control. Mint is a great example of how plain, seemingly uninteresting data can be turned into something that’s truly useful. I don’t even use Mint to the fullest extent I could, and still find it very helpful in keeping up with my finances.

How do you usually keep up with your money? Whether you use Mint, another web app, or a program on your computer, let us know how you manage your finances in the comments!


Summary

Mint is one of the most popular ways to manage your personal finances online. View all of your accounts, set a budget, and quickly see where your money is going ... for free!

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  • Evaldas

    Wish it would be not only for Americans :)

    • http://thefreelancepinoy.com/ Stephanie

      I agree! I wish Mint would also be available to those banking in my own country. It’s a great app. :)

    • dixhuit

      My thoughts exactly. I’ve had my eye on this service since it first popped up years ago. Still no UK support though… :(

  • david

    Any word on when this will be available for UK customers?

    • Lee Theobald

      I wouldn’t hold your breath for international support anytime soon. People have been asking for it for years and it hasn’t shown up yet. Does anyone know of any European alternatives? There was Kublax but that shut down.

      • Kris

        lovemoney.com has a similar feature, I haven’t used much yet, but seems to be pretty similar for me.

  • oykun

    YES! Count me in for UK support… I have been waiting really long time and have no clue how long more we will have to wait :/ I would be willing to pay anything!

  • Timothy

    On the surface to me this looks like the best Online Finance management system currently in place..

    - Any Plans for a UK version? Demand is likely ^
    - Will UK banks really want this?
    - I’m slightly Paranoid about privacy issues, encryption spiel or not.

  • http://www.timowen.com.au Tim

    I would love if this site became available to Australian residents!

  • Tessa Thornton

    It would be nice if it integrated a way to input cash spending too, as that’s how I spend most smaller amounts of cash (the stuff that adds up without you noticing). Currently I use mint plus an iphone app, I’d rather have it all together.

    • http://www.heymonkeydesign.com Lenny Terenzi

      Tessa –

      I believe they do have a cash tracking feature now… Might want to give it a look

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