Creating a budget: it’s something everyone knows is important, in theory, but few people take the time to create and stick to one. Throughout history, setting a budget has required a lot of time and even more math. However, with the internet age comes a plethora of new ways to help you understand where you spend your money. Beyond tracking where your money goes, these budgeting sites includes tools to help you set goals for savings and long term, big purchases like a new home.
If you’re familiar with these free online budgeting sites, it’s likely Mint.com. Launched in 2006, Mint was acquired by Intuit in 2009, the same company that owns financial tools like Turbotax and Quicken. With more than 10 million users, Mint is the largest player in the online budgeting game. Because of its connections with financial institutions, Mint is boasts an ability to connect users with their financial accounts in hundreds of banks and financial institutions across the United States and Canada.
But just because a site is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it works. Let’s walk through some of the pro’s and con’s of Mint.com to see if it’s the right site for you.
- Mint puts nearly everything at your fingertips. Whether it’s your checking account, credit cards or your student loans, it’s easy to link all of your financial accounts to one spot. It’s very convenient, and serves as brutal reminder, to see account interests rates displayed with your balance. For example, credit cards will show the amount owed in addition to the APR.
- One of Mint’s biggest selling points is its budgeting feature. With all of your monthly income added to the system, Mint will give you a breakdown of how your money should be spent. Coupled with the site’s helpful goal setting features, Mint can make setting a living on a monthly budget a lot less of a hassle. Of course, these features are customizable, allowing you to make adjustments depending on your needs. Of the course of time, Mint will help you analyze trends in your income and, more importantly, expenses. For a lot of us, it can be a real eye opener to see where our money is and isn’t going over time.
- Mint also has a handy mobile app, which allows you to track spending habits on the go. Users can get a number of notifications sent to their phone, including low balance alerts, overspending on certain budget amounts and more.
- Like any budget, it’s only going to benefit the user if they stick with it. Mint’s features require similar regular log-ins which help the financial accounts keep updated. Depending on your financial institution, you may have more of a hassle keeping your account linked to your Mint account. However, the more you use it, the less of a problem it can be.
- Mint also provides financial tips to users, depending on their spending habits. There are often plugs for a specific type of checking account or credit card. It’s important to remember that Mint does have promoted ads for users. Don’t assume that because Mint recommends a new credit card, for example, that it’s a must have.
Mint is a great resource for trying to reign in your expenses. Since it’s free, it’s definitely worth investigating for yourself. Don’t expect instant results, though; try to hold off on your evaluation of the site until after a few months. This will give Mint time to get an understanding of your finances and really begin to help you out.