Mint is a popular online budgeting service well-loved by many users. With its simple interface and abundance of features, it can be a helpful tool for anyone looking to gain more control over their financial life.
To be in control of your finances, you need to be aware of where your money is coming and going and set goals and limits for yourself. It surely doesn’t sound exciting, but it’s necessary – and can be easily done if you have the right tools.
One of the popular online tools for budgeting is Mint. Available on mobile and the web, it allows you to track your spending, set goals and more. Read on to learn more about Mint and how it can help you make budgeting simpler.
What is Mint?
Mint is an online budget planner and personal financial management service available in the U.S. and Canada. Founded in 2006, Mint originally worked through Yodlee, but was acquired by Intuit in 2009 – the same company that created TurboTax and Quicken.
Since then, the tool has grown in popularity. It’s no wonder: Mint makes it easy to gather all of your budget data in one place and keep track of your goals and spending.
How does Mint work?
Mint allows you to connect your accounts to the service to provide visibility into your income and spending all in one place. You can add your checking and savings accounts, credit cards, retirement and investment accounts and more.
After you’ve added your accounts, Mint will pull your transaction history, help you categorize income and expenses and allow you to evaluate your financial situation as a whole.
How to use Mint
To start using Mint, download the Mint app or go to Mint.com and sign up with your email address. After filling out information about your location, you’ll be prompted to connect your accounts.
If you don’t see your financial institution’s icon, start typing its name in the search bar or paste the sign-in URL.
The process of connecting accounts is rather simple, especially if you have the passwords to banking accounts saved in your browser. After going through sign-in windows for each of your financial institutions, you’ll be all set.
Don’t worry if you’ve missed something – you can always add more accounts later.
Creating a budget
Mint tracks and categorizes all of your transactions, so creating a budget is easy. Find “Budgets” in the menu at the top of the page. You’ll see that Mint has created some categories for you automatically, but you can customize them and add new ones.
On the right side of the page you’ll see the summary and how much you’re supposed to have left. Here Mint can also offer advice on how you can use the leftover money. Additionally, if you ever go over your budget, Mint will send you an alert.
Setting up goals
No budget is complete without goals. Whether you’re saving for a rainy day, a big purchase or your next vacation, you can add your goals to Mint and indicate where you’re keeping the money allocated for every specific goal.
Mint can suggest an amount based on your income and expenses, but you’re free to put in any amount you want. Next, choose the date when you’d like to reach your goal and the amount of monthly contributions. Mint will then estimate whether you’ll be able to reach your goal in time.
Tracking your spending
Besides planning your budget, you also need to track where your money is actually going. With Mint you can find the complete list of your transactions under “Transactions” and take a look at the bigger picture under “Trends.” Here, you can check on your spending habits and income trends, see how you’re doing with repaying your debts and get a picture of your net worth over time.
Checking on your investments
If you’ve added any investment accounts to your Mint profile, including your 401(k) or IRA, they’ll show up under “Investments.” Here you’ll be able to see your gains or losses over time and evaluate your performance.
Checking your credit
Your financial picture is never full without credit. Mint can allow you to see your TransUnion VantageScore credit score if you provide certain personal information, such as your address and Social Security number.
In this section, you can also see what’s affecting your credit score to get an idea of how you can improve it. Note, however, that you have multiple credit scores, so checking only one might not offer you the full picture. Still, it’s a nice addition to the service that can give you a better idea of where you stand financially.
See related: Why are my credit scores so different?
Is Mint free?
One of the best things about Mint is that it’s absolutely free. While it’s remained one of the most popular budget trackers by offering a comprehensive yet simple approach, Mint still doesn’t charge its users.
There are other services that might work better for specific goals. For example, YNAB is well-known for helping its users conquer debt. At the same time, it costs $11.99 a month or $84 a year if you choose the annual plan.
With Mint, you’ll get a well-rounded picture of your financial matters and tools to make informed money decisions – all without paying a dime.
If you’re looking to develop a personal budget and gain visibility into your finances, but dread Excel spreadsheets, Mint can be a perfect solution for you. This free service allows you to take a look at different aspects of your financial life, create goals and make sure you’re staying on track with your spending.
Plus, considering Mint is free, there’s no harm in trying it out.