Mint Personal Finance App: Key Features, Pros, and Cons
The free application from Intuit offers a mix of money tracking tools
Mint is a popular free online personal finance application from Intuit that offers a variety of easy-to-use financial planning and tracking tools. The online app is complemented by the free Mint mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows mobile devices.
Helpful personal finance tools such as budgeting, transaction tracking, categorization, and bill reminders make Mint ideal for many people, but the absence of an account reconciliation feature makes the app unusable for some. The app is periodically updated with new, useful features, such as credit score tracking. The features mentioned here were available as of September 2018.
To get started with Mint, you must sign up and connect your financial accounts to your Mint account. The app can connect with almost any U.S. financial institution to track your bank and credit card accounts, loans, and investments. You can also use it to track and set reminders for bills and track your credit score.
Once you connect your accounts, the app will download several months' worth of transactions and data. The process will take a few minutes at first, but future updates happen automatically.
Mint's navigation is broken down by overview, transactions, bills, budgets, goals, trends (reports), investments, and ways to save. From the overview page, you can view balances and the most recent transactions for all accounts, upcoming bills, activity alerts, financial reminders, budget spending details, financial goals, and more.
The app assigns budget expense categories automatically to transactions as they come in. The automatic categorization is accurate, for the most part, but you can easily edit transactions if you want to rename or recategorize them. Splitting a transaction among categories is easy as well. You can also add optional tags to transactions for more detailed financial reports or budgets.
A budget in Mint is not one plan that includes all budget items. Instead, each category is considered its own budget, and you can budget for as many categories as you need. The app will automatically suggest budget amounts for you based on an analysis of your spending history in each category, but you can adjust those amounts or create your own budgets as well. Budgets can be set weekly, monthly, every few months, or once. If you choose monthly budgets, you can check a box to have any unspent or overspent funds for the month rolled to the next month, a feature that can be useful when working with variable expenses.
Setting Financial Goals
The Goals page is for setting up short-term or long-term savings goals, such as establishing an emergency fund or reducing debt. Each goal must be tied to one of your accounts, and you can only set one goal per account. If you're trying to save for multiple goals within one savings account, this feature will not be useful to you.
The Ways to Save section shows deals from financial companies—credit card offers, introductions to brokerages, checking accounts, mortgages, and insurance policies—so you can visit this section to find offers specific to your financial needs.
The Bills feature allows you to track all of your bills in the Mint app instead of logging in to multiple sites. You can set reminders to pay your bills and get warnings when your account balances are too low to pay them. While available at one time, bill pay is no longer a feature in Mint.
Reports and Trends
A variety of simple yet customizable reports are available with the Trends feature. Types of reports include spending, income, net income, assets, debts, and net worth. You can view your spending by the current month or select another time period, and you can filter the report by data category, tag, or merchant (payee). A module also lets you create reports that view trends, such as how your net worth is changing over time.
Mint's graphical investment reports are uncomplicated, yet detailed enough to keep most people in touch with their portfolio. They include reports for performance, value, asset allocation, comparison to market indices, and more. You can select time frames ranging from one day to one year from the day you started tracking investments.
Strengths of the App
Mint's users enjoy the following features:
- Ease of use.
- Flexible budgeting tools allow for experimenting with different scenarios.
- Sends financial summaries and alerts via email or text message.
- Tax tools integrate with TurboTax.
- Free credit score, powered by Equifax.
- Email or text alerts for unusual account activity, bill reminders, and low balances.
- Bank-level data security for account aggregation.
- Easily customizable, digestible financial reports.
- Creation of spending and income categories on the fly.
- Automatic downloads of transactions from almost any financial institution in the U.S.
- Automatic categorization of downloaded transactions.
- Systems alerts let you know if account updates are stalled for any reason.
- Add the value of homes, cars, or other physical assets for accurate net worth.
- Easy-to-find help and support.
Room for Improvement
The Mint software has the following drawbacks as well:
- No account reconciliation available
- No running account balances in account registers
- Does not support multiple currencies
- Can't assign multiple savings goals to one account