Mint – The Personal Finance App Everyone needs
I have already written an article on why knowing your net worth is absolutely vital to your financial health. You can find that article here.
Back in the day, calculating your net worth was reasonably complicated. You had to look at all your financial accounts, figure out the value of your real estate (which was pretty complicated in and of itself) and eventually add it all up to figure out what you were worth. Today however, there is a much better way. Personal finance apps have integrated with financial as well as other institutions to bring you the most current snapshot of your financial health at your beck and call.
I have used Intuit Mint since 2010 and over the years, the app and its features have only gotten better. The best part is that a recent update they made allows me to go back in time and look at my net worth over time just by sliding my finger around. The snapshot below shows what I am talking about. At the tap of a finger, I can find out what I was worth on Oct 4th, 2010. It also shows a graph of my net worth the entire time it has been tracking my data. It did have a few connection issues along the way which are the spikes you see on the chart. This is where the app couldn’t connect to my mortgage accounts and temporarily and artificially inflated my net worth but overall, it has been a phenomenal tool to keep an eye on what my money situation looks like.
As you can see, on October 4th, 2010, my net worth was negative $28k. Since then, It has risen slowly but surely (as I’ve gotten smarter with my money) until it hit 7 figures last year, a few days before my 36th birthday (My target was to get there before 40).
What I love about Mint
- It is free
- When it comes to money, nothing beats free. When you weigh the utility of what Mint can do for your finances against what it costs, the service pretty much cannot be beat.
- It is owned by Intuit which also owns TurboTax
- This fact allowed me to trust the site with my banking and financial information because if I cannot trust the company that has many years of my tax data with my financial information, something is terribly wrong. It is only a matter of time where Mint users will not even have to file their taxes. If all your money matters are in Mint, TurboTax can pretty much do your taxes by itself and all you’d have to do is double check its work.
- It pulls all your most current balances in one place
- Bank Accounts
- Loan/Mortgage/Credit Card Accounts
- Investment accounts as well as 401(k) and other retirement accounts
- Real Estate (You enter your address and it will pull your home value from Zillow weekly)
- Cars (You enter details and it pulls the value of your car from Kelly Blue Book monthly)
- Anything Else (You can plug in value for any of your assets manually)
- Allows you to create a budget automatically categorizes MOST of your purchases
- While I like my budget on a good old spreadsheet, I do have the basics charted out on Mint so that it will send me a notification if I go overboard on something. The budget feature allows you to add dollars to categories each month and as you spend, Mint categorizes and assigns those expenses based on merchant names to those categories. For example, if a charge on your credit card says Pizza Hut, Mint will automatically assign that expense to the restaurant budget. However, some merchants just use weird names and Mint will do its best to figure out the category and sometimes do it incorrectly. Those can be manually reclassified.
- Send you email notifications when you exceed a budget category
- As soon as Mint detects a charge on your account that puts you over your budget for that month, it will notify you. I love this because I can apply the brakes at that point to not overspend that month.
- Automatically updates your net worth as the value of your assets and liabilities change
- This one is really my favorite because it really puts into perspective what assets are your friends when it comes to making you wealthier and which ones are really just liabilities disguised as assets. When you see how you house and stocks increase your net worth month over month while your car drags it down, you will start thinking about if that Mercedes badge is truly worth it.
What they could do better
- Investment Portfolio Tracking
- The aggregate account balance pulls in accurately but if you expect to look at details of each stock holding or how your account is performing compared to major stock indexes, don’t hold your breath. They’ve never been good at that and they still aren’t. If this is important to you, Personal Capital may be a better app. They are awesome at this but it comes with some other issues that I will write about when I review them. I just started using Personal Capital (which interestingly is founded by the Ex-CEO of Intuit, who owns Mint).
- Connection issues
- These are common with all integrations so sometimes Mint runs into issues pulling the most current data from your accounts.
- Account Transfer Classification
- It doesn’t do the best job of categorizing transactions when you transfer money from one of your accounts into another. In essence, when you move money around that way, it should be a net neutral and shouldn’t really count as an expense or income. Mint often doesn’t recognize this and classifies it as expense in one account and income in another messing up that month’s income and expense numbers. You have to go and hide/delete those transactions to clean up the numbers.
The issues with Mint are rather small compared to the tremendous benefits and visibility it provides and the deliberateness it can bring to your everyday financial activities.
It is also just plain cool to be able to quickly find out how little you used to spend on food before you had kids or something totally random like that.
I hope you find this review useful and as always, don’t forget to hit like and then subscribe if you like the content. We do not sell your information so enter your email in the box and the articles will be delivered straight to your mailbox.