Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place. Set a budget, track your goals and do more with your money, for free.
Mint is a personal finance management program made by Intuit, which has been at the cutting edge of technology and personal and business finance for some time. Its back end, however, is powered by Yodlee, which has a completely different PFM of its own. Mint is like a spiffed up version of Yodlee, and as such it has become the leader in the space.
For good reason, too. Mint is, dollar for dollar, the best at doing what it sets out to do. It’s sleek, easy to use, and nice to look at. While it does lack in the financial education department, for those who simply want to get a quick peek at their financial situation from time to time, there’s likely no better app out there.
That said, it might be showing signs of being too popular. It’s sluggish in certain ways. It only seems to update your data when you sign in -- which then leads to a tardy barrage of alert emails. If Mint is buckling under the weight of its own popularity, it only leads to minor annoyances, however.
Overall, Mint is the best option out there.
Pros Cons Great interface Miscategorizes spending Simple and easy to use Pushes products, not education
Mint’s login process is easy and hassle-free. It is also available on iOS and Android as a mobile app. Sometimes it takes a while to load, which can be jarring, especially after payday -- where did it all go!?
In fact, Mint frequently doesn’t update its data at all until you login, at which point it blasts you with alert emails. This is a bit odd, if you consider what an alert email is supposed to do -- alert you to something when you are away from your personal finance manager. Could it be that Mint is a bit overwhelmed with the size of its user base?
This is where Mint is the absolute best. Its landing screen gives you the most detailed view of your spending available, and wastes no space pushing other services on you. You see your accounts in the left sidebar, alerts, bills and budgets down the middle. A small box offers tailored advice: maybe you’d like a better rate on savings? maybe you should open an investment account? etc. It’s not pushy, but it’s there. For the most part, Mint wants you to know what’s going on with your money as soon as you log in -- because it knows you do, too.
Creating budgets and monitoring them is a breeze with Mint. Its “Trends” page gives a pie chart of your spending every month: it's a beautiful, multi-colored pie chart showing you where your money goes. It can be viewed by category, by merchant, by tag, and many other metrics. You can look at charts showing your net income over time, your income month by month, etc. Mint has some of the most interesting ways of visualizing money out there.
Mint allows for a wide range of assets: bank accounts, investment accounts, loans, real estate, vehicles, and unlike others, it asks for your credit score -- but doesn't require that you give it to them. This gives Mint a sense not only of where you’re at, but also where you can go: what sort of credit cards to you qualify for? can you buy a home?
This is what financial planning is all about, which is smart on Mint’s part.
Like all PFMs, Mint struggles occasionally to properly categorize your purchases. Our gym membership was filed as “Amusement” -- we wish -- and our Internet bill was filed as “Personal Care” -- again, we wish. It is surprising to see these sort of categorization errors from Mint, which is powered by Yodlee. Yodlee MoneyCenter suffered from none of these problems, and there is no clear reason why Mint makes these errors (other PFMs, for example, truncate the name of a merchant account, which often leads to errors, but Mint does not appear to do this).
That said, Mint makes it easy to recategorize your spending and offers great visualizations for your budgets.
Furthermore, cash is always a problem for PFMs, but Mint offers easy ways to split the transactions up into their constituent parts, for those with photographic memories.
Mint doesn’t push editorial content in the way its competitors do. Instead it has a number of tools that can maybe help you save money under its Ways to Save tab. You can look up CD rates, home loans, credit cards and the like, all tailored to your financial situation and goals.
It doesn’t have much independent, disinterested financial advice to dole out. It simply lays out products from a number of partners, which it likely gets paid to proffer. This is what keeps something like Mint free, but also makes it somewhat less trustworthy as an advisor -- well, it’s not. So that’s worth keeping in mind: Mint exists not to educate, but to convert.
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