Mint Keeps Your Personal Finances So Fresh and Clean
Of course, like any service worth using these days, Mint has full-featured mobile apps that let you track and update your finances on the go. With a free app available for both iPhone and Android to complement its powerful website, Mint is the most compelling choice for personal budgeting.
Import Your Banking Accounts
Visualize Your Spending and IncomeOf course, pulling in all of that data is nearly useless without easy navigation. Thankfully, Mint is loaded with charts and graphs that can break down your accounts by category, merchant, date -- almost any criteria imaginable. You can even track specifics by using custom categories. Want to know how much you spend each month by stopping to buy a venti from Starbucks every morning? Mint can tell you, and, through sheer embarrassment, convince you to start brewing your own coffee. [Ed. note: Our editor signed up for the service and was shocked to see that Mint immediately noted that her clothing spending habits were nearly $200 over budget, thanks to Mint's ability to search merchant keywords to see what she was spending her cash on.] You can also set budgets to ensure you're not simply throwing money away. Set a budget of $100 a month for eating out, and Mint will alert you (either through the mobile app's push notifications or through e-mail) that you're approaching or exceeding your budget for the month.
Goals and TrackingThe goal feature is the newest addition to Mint's stable, and its function is pretty straightforward. You choose something you want to achieve, whether it's paying off your debt, buying a home or saving for retirement. You then set a specific saving target, and associate it with one of your cash accounts. Mint will tell you what your monthly contribution should be in order to meet the goal by a specific date, and will tell you whether or not you're on schedule. Setting a goal to pay off debt is slightly different in that you only set a date, and Mint automatically tracks your total debt load.
Mint MobileThe mobile apps for Android and iPhone are what really makes the whole system work. You won't have access to all the pretty graphs or some of the more powerful tools -- like goals -- but you can quickly check your recent transactions, and monitor how much of your monthly budgets you've already spent. The apps also provide pop-up alerts to let you know when your bills are due or your balances are low, among other things. It's easy to forget to log-in and balance the checkbook on a regular basis, but, with alerts from the app, staying on top of your important financial information is effortless.
Mint certainly has its quirks, but its relatively hassle-free ability to track spending, income and debts across all accounts in one place is unmatched. Whether you're obsessed with budgeting or bad at budgeting, it doesn't matter. We guarantee you'll find Mint useful.