If you are looking for a free personal finance tool to create a monthly budget, track your spending, and set savings goals all in one spot, then Mint.com might be the right choice for you. I have used this software & thought it was time to covey my experience for a Mint.com review.
- Product Name: Mint
- Website: Mint.com
- Price: FREE!!
- Category: Personal Finance Software
- Recommendation: Possibly (Will Explain Why In This Review)..It's Free So If You Don't Like It, You Are Not Out Any Money
What Is Mint?
Mint.com is a free web-based program that links your online banking accounts, investments, credit cards, & loans. You can also create savings goals & also create a monthly budget.
Mint also has a mobile app, so you can use the program on the go as well.
Mint uses the Intuit Quicken software as it's interface. So if you have been a Quicken user in the past, it should seem familiar. With that said, Quicken has become a love/hate relationship in the last couple years and you might feel apprehensive to try Mint. I don't blame you & I personally don't recommend the paid version of Quicken as I share a similar sentiment.
Mint serves it's purpose for the price of free, but one of my gripes is the only accounts you can add are ones that it can link to online. So if you do anything in cash as I like to do for purchases under $20, it's going to be a little hard to track these expenditures.
Mint's free rival, Personal Capital is more functional in tracking spending. One of these reasons, is that it links to your online accounts, but you can also enter other accounts by hand. So you can calculate your total net worth or total spending, with less hassle.
How Is Mint Free?
Mint is free because it is supported by different financial promotions. The expression, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” still holds true. Mint receives an affiliate commission for every person that opens a bank or investment account, credit card, or insurance policy with a promotional sponsor.
These ads can be a little pesky, but not not overwhelming. I've never experienced a pop-up ad, which makes me happy. Mint's “other” free competitor, Personal Capital, isn't ridden with promotional material.
If you are interested in all their promoted services, you can click on the “Ways To Save” tab.
What Mint Offers
I will break this section down into the seven categories that Mint has.
- Overview– This is the main dashboard. Here you can view the balances of all your accounts, your budget, upcoming bills, etc.
- Transactions– There is where you view all the transaction in the check ledger for your various accounts. You can also categorize your various transactions.
- Budgets– Where you go to create a monthly budget. It tracks your current income, spending, and goals. The instructions are somewhat lacking, so you will need to learn a little through trial and error, but there are a lot of detailed categories. You can setup expected expenses, but cannot physically view next month's budget yet. For example, I'm writing this review in November 2015 but cannot see December 2015 yet.
- Goals– Here you can setup savings goals. If you are going to be drawing this money from a specific account you can link to that account. One unique feature, is publishing your goals on Pinterest & Twitter.
- Trends– Using graphs, you can view your spending, income, & net worth.
- Investments– You track the overall performance of your investments.
- I personally have not had success with this feature. I use Schwab for my investments, so maybe that is the issue. Mint is showing my portfolio has lost $15,532 in value. My portfolio actually has an unrealized net gain of $4,511 as of this review. From my observation, Mint's software put the comma too far to the right for what I paid for two stocks. Where I actually paid $1,000, it says I paid $10,000 for the stock shares.
- Ways To Save– Mint's one-stop shop for finding various banks that offer high-yield accounts, rewarding credit cards, and investment accounts.
You can also get your credit score for free & not get dinged on your score.
For a free bare-bones program, Mint offers a lot & is an effective tool in tracking your spending or setting up a basic monthly budget if you do not want a full-service budgeting program like You Need A Budget.
What I Like About Mint
There is a lot to like about Mint & I will cover the highlights:
- A couple of years ago, a free budget program was tracking your spending with a homemade Excel spreadsheet or on a piece of paper. If you end up not liking Mint, you are out zero, zip, nada dollars.
- Free budget program
- It's free, so it's bare bones, but if you have a handle on your monthly expenses this is a great option to keep you “fiscally aware.”
- Comes with mobile app
- Can publish you savings goals on Twitter, Pinterest, & Facebook.
- Unique way to let others know what you are doing & a way to stay accountable.
- Track net worth
- Mint adds all your assets & liabilities, then you (hopefully) realize, “I have that much?”
- Track Free Credit Score
- I haven't used this option, as I know what my score is through my bank already.
- Easy to read charts.
- Can view charts in bar graph or pie chart form. Below I have an example of a graph that shows my net worth with one of the institutions I use.
What I Don't Like About Mint
Here is a summary of my dislikes about Mint:
- Only accessible accounts are ones it can link to.
- This is more “fool-proof” because it automatically updates transactions, in case you forget to “balance the checkbook” before reviewing your budget. I like having the option to hand-enter certain accounts.
- Issues with linking to accounts to update transactions.
- Others have mentioned this gripe as well, Mint occasionally has an issue where it cannot connect & update the transactions to your account.
- Investment function for me doesn't accurately indicate actual unrealized gain/loss.
- Maybe I'm a one-off, but I cross-checked with Personal Capital & they have it right.
- Obvious Promotional Ads
- It's a free service, so this is the “price” you pay. This would be more of a non-issue, except Personal Capital, which is free as well, has virtually no promotional material. PC makes their money from investment advising.
Reading through this review, you have probably gotten the impression that I am recommending a personal finance program other than Mint. You are mostly correct, as I have mixed opinions.
If you are comparing apples to apples, in this case comparing Mint to Personal Capital. The primary reason I say Mint is worth trying, is because it is free. If you want a free budgeting program, choose Mint. To primarily track your net worth, spending, or investments, Personal Capital wins.
This is a Mint.com review, so I will just describe Personal Capital in a nutshell. Personal Capital is primarily focused on people with a net worth of at least $100,000. Because of this, their advertisements are not as prevalent & their website is also more functional and detailed. Their marketing strategy is being an investment advisor where they collect a certain percentage depending on how many assets you have.
Some people are diehard users of Mint or just stick with it because they have used it for several years & it works for them. If you are looking for a free program, I encourage you to try both Mint & Personal Capital and see which one you prefer.
If you are looking for a program to get on-track with a budget & want a full-service yet easy to use program, my recommendation is You Need A Budget. This is the apples to oranges comparison.
With all that said. Mint is worth a try, because it is free. You might like it or you might not. It does the job, but my personal preference is using programs where I can enter accounts & transactions by hand.
Have you used Mint or another software program? Please share your experiences below.
Thank You For Reading This Review.
Until Next Time,
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.