One of the main points that we constantly try to make here on our blog is that everyone should have (and use) a budget to keep their spending in line and adequately fund their emergency, retirement and other savings accounts. Over the last few years, with the advent of smartphones, there have been a number of excellent apps that have been released to help with a person’s personal finance by helping them to set up a basic budget and keep track of their financial affairs more closely, and Mint is possibly one of the best.
Mint is a free personal finance service that’s similar to Quicken, has no local software that needs to be installed and can be accessed using practically any web browser or mobile device that person chooses. Once you sign up, it’s quite simple to add accounts and download your financial data. Every time you revisit their site after that, your data gets automatically updated. The app also sends excellent financial information and advice automatically, and has a web interface that’s appealing and functional. Not only that but Mint’s dashboard gives you an excellent summary of your overall financial picture.
Where the service really shines(and the reason we recommend it) are the basic budgeting and goal setting features that Mint comes with. It has very strong budgeting and expense tracking features, which in most cases are much simpler to use than Quicken. You can also use Mint with practically every mobile device as they have an app for the iPhone, iPad and Android, allowing you to access your finances quickly and easily no matter where you are by simply logging on.
Once you’ve set up your Mint account you can set it to send you email alerts for a number of things including;
- Late fees
- When you’re over budget in a specific category
- Reminders to pay bills
- Rate changes
Mint can also send you weekly summaries, making it what we believe is an excellent tool to help you with your budgeting and goal setting.
Some people have complained that Mint has a lack of features, including their investing section. It’s also been said that there have been numerous synchronization issues with banks that take an inordinate amount of time to get resolved. While these may be true, the simple fact is that if you are in need of a good tool to help you set up and keep a budget, Mint fills that need nicely.
In summary, when it comes to creating and tracking a budget Mint is quite useful. One of the best features is the email alerts and, even though it’s investing feature won’t be serviceable for anyone but the most basic of investors, it’s really not the primary reason to download the app. If you’re looking for a convenient tool with basic but excellent budgeting features, it’s quite good.