In the old days you had to wait to get that monthly statement from your financial institution to see how much money you had coming in, and how much money turned around and went out. Today all that information is on-demand and contained within your smartphone — but which apps are best to manage all that data?
In this installment of our ongoing series: the best budget apps, we check out Mint.
Mint is a free personal finance app that allows you to track your spending, budget, and generally keep tabs on your money in one easy location. It has been around for a long time in Internet years — it was launched in 2006 and acquired by Intuit in 2009.
What I Liked
I love that Mint tells me when funds are available in my accounts — I have money coming in monthly from multiple sources, large amounts and small amounts, and it is so handy to know when that money is available. It also makes note of large-ticket items we have written a check for. It tracks money in versus money out (sometimes eliciting a ‘yikes’), shows you where your money is going (categories like bills & utilities, entertainment, auto).
I receive periodic email updates as well, with information on various aspects of our financial health. The last one noted “Your net worth decreased $2,545.44 since last week.” WHAT?
Hmmm, Not So Much
Getting started was a pretty heavy lift. You have to sync all your accounts to the app (it is heavily encrypted and secure) and then you have to create budgets in a multitude of categories ranging from auto insurance to gas to Internet to coffee shops and charitable donations. I nearly had carpal tunnel by the time I was done.
Additionally, I keep getting pop-ups and emails suggesting I am paying too much for car insurance and urging me to visit a website where I can shop for better rates. It has a hard-sell feel that I don’t like.
What Others are Saying
Reviews are fairly positive, noting the simplicity of using the app as a major selling point. A recent review by InvestorJunkie.com on noted “Mint.com’s service seems to be more focused on catering to the masses. It’s very strong with budgeting and tracking expenses, but its investing area is simplistic at best.” Said PCMag.com: “Don’t mistake it for accounting software, though. It’s not meant for reconciling transactions. Rather, Mint helps you keep a vigilant eye on your accounts and transactions to get insight into your spending and saving habits.”
Mint is great for tracking your spending, and how it compares to your revenue. It also makes it easy to see if you are overspending in any discretionary categories, and gives you a heads up if it thinks you are spending too much on a non-discretionary area, like car insurance.
Not Good Forâ€¦
Mint is not for those who want to track their investments — it’s a budgeting app.
Free – Apple (including Apple Watch) and Android availability
8 out of 10
About this series:
Welcome to our series where we test drive savings and budgeting apps so you can quickly find the tool that works for you. Want to join us by sharing an unbiased review or by adding your thoughts to an existing one? To share your first-person experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org.