When Mint.com first came out, I was wary of giving online access to a company that would track my spending, but after some research and several recommendations including a close friend whose marriage counselor recommended that she and her fiancé setup a Mint account to increase transparency about how their money was being spent, I decided to sign up…. and (drum roll), I’m in L-O-V-E.
It has been an eye-opening experience. Why didn’t I do this earlier? In less than 10 minutes of setting up my Mint account, I have greater transparency into how my money is being managed, which has given me the clarity and confidence to make my money work harder for me, create realistic budgets and reevaluate my spending and saving habits.
What is Mint.com?
Mint is an online personal financial management tool created by CEO and founder Aaron Patzer.
As a user, you give Mint access to all your financial accounts by sharing your login and password (no personal information is requested) and it aggregates all your financial data from all your accounts to give you a complete financial picture of how your money is being spent.
The best part is that it saves you time and energy since you no longer have to login into 3+ different accounts. Through a single Mint.com sign-on, you get a summary of how much you own versus owe taking into account your checking, savings, assets, investment, credit card, retirement and student loans accounts.
Is it secure?
YES! Mint has the same levels of encryption and security used by major banks and is verified by a couple of different third party security auditing companies. It was recently acquired by Intuit, the same people who manage the tax filing and accounting programs: Turbotax and Quicken.
Additionally, Mint does not request any personal information. So worst case scenario, if someone hacked into your Mint account, they would only see how your money is being spent (e.g., on April 8, someone spent $200 at Macy’s); he or she couldn’t identify who you are or move any money around.
How much does it cost? It’s FREE!
Top 10 Features and Benefits
So why am I in L-O-V-E with Mint? Here are my top 10 features:
1. Budget: You can build a budget and it automatically tracks what you’re spending against it using categories. When I received a Mint alert that I’d exceeded my clothing budget by $100, I went into my Mint account drilled down by account, date and category to specifically understand how I had blown my budget and then decided I really didn’t need the new pair of shoes and dress I’d bought the day before; so I returned them.
2. Layout: It has a beautiful, easy to use and intuitive layout.
3. Goals: You can setup financial goals and develop an action plan. I wanted to save money for a trip so Mint walked me through all the details and suggested how much I needed to save and I can see how much I’m tracking towards my goal.
4. Alerts: Mint offers all sorts of alerts from deposits, credit card due dates, finance charges, possible fraudulent expenses, etc. When I discovered that one month, I had paid $15 in ATM fees (that’s a good meal at Chipotle I could have enjoyed), I became more conscious about when and where I withdrew money from the ATM.
5. Categories: Mint automatically categorizes each expense but you can also edit and add notes to each expense as needed. For example, you can tag tax-related expenses (e.g., tithes, donations or business expenses), which can be very helpful come tax time.
6. Trends: You can see and understand your spending trends and how you compare versus the rest of the nation. For example, versus the average US person, are you saving more or eating out more than the average US person?
7. Savings: It offers recommendations for ways you can save even more money (eg: credit cards, insurance, CDs, retirement) with non-evasive offers and you decide if you’d like to follow-up on them.
8. Drill Down Features: If you really want to understand how your money is being spent, you can drill down by account, category, merchant or time period into your financial history.
9. Clarity and confidence: If you don’t yet have a financial advisor, setting up an account with Mint.com is a good place to start.
10. Cost: It’s FREE!
So what are you waiting for? It only takes a max of 10 minutes!