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Complete Review Of Mint – An Easy Way To Track Your Expenses

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Sometimes it can be a little bit difficult to track everything that goes on in our lives. We have to keep track of credit cards, gift cards, bank accounts, all on top of what we’re already doing, making our expenses the last thing we want to worry about. The Mint Money Manager helps you by organizing everything into one page so you know exactly where every dollar is going.

What Is Mint?

Mint is a website that has been around since 2006 as a way to help you manage your money and get a completely clear view of your financial life. In one simple layout, Mint allows you to see all of your balances and transactions together. All of your financial information is pulled into one picture, making it incredibly simple for the average consumer to balance their budget.

Mint does more than this, by tracking your spending patterns, what categories your money is being allocated to, and how well your investments are doing. Not only that, but you will also receive tips on where you should reduce your spending and how to do it. All of this is done automatically by linking your accounts to the Mint page.

Mint is 100% free and is connected with almost every financial institution in the US that is connected to the internet in one way or another. No local software need to be installed as it’s all web-based. All information is updated in real-time and gives you recommendations based on your age, current lifestyle, and financial goals. In short, it’s a great way to know where every single dollar is going.

I’ve been using Mint for years now, and it’s been great for telling me in which ways to save money as well as keeping track of my personal assets. Instead of logging into each bank and credit card account, I know exactly how much money I have at one time in one place.

How Does Mint Make Money?

Mint makes money by partnering with financial services. See those links that get you ways to receive constant updates on your credit score, or one that promotes a specific credit card? Click on one of them and sign-up and they earn a commission. You never need to do this, as all of the information that Mint provides for free is more than enough.

Mint Bills Helps You Pay On Time

Mint also has a feature called Mint Bills which helps you keep track of upcoming payments. This is especially useful if you’re one to forget when upcoming payment dates are. This can be extremely detrimental for some, as your credit score may lower and you might have to pay insanely high interest fees from credit card companies.

The Best Of Mint Features

  • Weekly Summaries – Alerts will be sent to your email on a weekly basis showing you where your money is going, what bills you are paying, and how you can improve. This feature can also be turned off.
  • Alerts Via Email or Text Message – Want to be reminded when you have an upcoming payment that’s due or when your bank account has over-withdrawn? You can set this all up under the alerts section.
  • Set Your Goals – Let’s say you want to save up enough money to buy a house or your kids’ college fund. Mint will help you set a goal and tell you ways in which you can improve your spending so that you can put less cash into one category and more in the category you want. See the image below? A green bar means that you’re in line with your goals and a red line means you’re over that budget.
  • Real-Time Data – Mint’s financial data is already updated in real-time, just as if you were logging into each of your accounts individually. You can also always click on the refresh button to make sure that you’re getting the most accurate information.
  • Credit Score – Some places charge to obtain your credit score, but not Mint. You can quickly see how many derogatory marks you have, your average credit history, what loans you’re most likely to apply for, and how many open accounts you have, all on one page.
  • App Support – You can also view Mint on the go by using their iOS or Android app for your phone or tablet.

The Downsides

  • Investment Tracking – Unfortunately, Mint doesn’t do the best job when it comes to investment tracking. While you do get an overall picture of your investment accounts in terms of total worth, you don’t know the return you’re getting, and sometimes it’s a little buggy on which securities you’re invested in. For this we recommend Personal Capital.
  • Some Accounts Won’t Connect – For some reason, no matter how many times I’ve tried I can’t get my Chase bank account to connect with Mint. It’s only after hundreds of times that I get it to work.
  • Spending Sometimes Uncategorized – If Mint is uncertain as to where an expense is coming from, you’ll have to enter in the information manually. While some people may consider this as a good thing, it’s just another thing that you have to add on to your to-do list. It might be better if Mint just added it in to the uncategorized section instead of making you do it yourself.
  • Long Time To Sync – Even though the data is updated in real-time, actually connecting your accounts may be a hassle. Not only does it sometimes take a long time, but data can be misrepresented and Mint will always assume that they’re 100% accurate. In these cases, you may have to do some manual intervention. Yet this is usually rare, so don’t worry about it too much.
  • No Option For Gift Cards – I think it would be great if Mint would add a section in which we could manually enter our gift cards. Sometimes I receive gift cards for large amount during Christmas, and it’s extremely difficult keeping track of them all.

I’m Entering A Lot Of Personal Information. Is It Safe?

The one thing that prevents most people from signing-up for a Mint account is the fact that you’re basically entering your entire financial history into one place. If your account were to get hacked, someone would have access to all of your accounts and SSN within an instant.

In my personal view, I believe Mint to be just as safe as other web-based applications with the exception of banks (mostly because banks are insured if something were to happen). Yet if you’re keeping your information on your hard drive, I would recommend using Mint. Most people don’t have enough encryption or proper protection to guard them against hackers on their personal PC. With Mint, you don’t have to worry about this, as they do all the safeguarding.

How Do I Get Started With Mint?

Getting started with Mint is very simple. We’re here to break down all of the features that they have to offer so you know the best way to optimize your account.

1. Register. You can register for a new account by clicking this link here. Click on the sign-up button and you’ll have the choice to either sign-up for Mint or Mint Bills. For now, let’s just stick with Mint. We’ll get back to Mint Bills later. Enter in your email and create a password.

2. Enter in your account information. Gather your usernames and passwords for all accounts (PayPal, bank, credit card, Bitcoin, etc.) to make sure to get an accurate representation of your financial situation. You don’t have to worry about Mint sharing your information with any third parties or any security breaches.

3. Add all assets. Be sure to include other assets as well, such as real estate, automobiles, boats, etc. Mint will automatically gather information as to how much each one is worth.

4. Find out your credit score. Go to the credit score section and enter in your information to check out your credit score. Mint will also give you ways to improve it. If you prefer to use another service, we also recommend Credit Karma.

5. Keep track of your spending. When browsing through the Mint site, you’ll quickly notice that there’s a lot of features available. Where I like to look first is my spending habits. A pie graph will be created for you that shows where your expenses are being allocated to.

6. Never miss a payment. Signing-up for Mint bills will help you keep track of when your payments are due so that you never miss one. Since you already created a Mint account, you can log out and use the same login information to log into Mint Bills. Enter in your credit cards and any company in which you might have bills to pay for. Every time a payment is near, Mint will send you a notification.

Final Thoughts

If you have a lot of financial accounts open and need an easy way to see where all of your money is going, Mint is a great way to do this. All information can be seen from one place, making it incredibly easy to know how much money you have at all times. Never miss a bill payment with Mint Bill, as you’ll be sent alerts each time a payment is close to being due.

If you’re looking a way to track your investment portfolio(s), Mint has this feature, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best service for this. You won’t be receiving much detail in terms of how your cash is diversified or where you can improve – only the totals will be displayed. For this we recommend Personal Capital.

Do you use Mint or any other service to keep track of your budget and expenses? If so, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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