Mint.com - A must-have personal finance tool

When life becomes hectic, keeping track of your personal finances can be challenging.  The fact that your financial accounts are probably spread among different banks can add to the difficulty.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that enables you to easily organize accounts from different banks, create and track budgets, and follow the growth of your net worth, all from one website?  Mint.com helps you do just that.

To use my situation as an example, I have investment accounts with Schwab, Scottrade, and another provider for my 401(k).  I have savings, checking, and credit accounts with Wells Fargo and a regional credit union.  I also have a PayPal account that I use for certain online purchases. 

I’m guessing your situation is similar.  And most likely you're using Excel, keeping notes in a graphing tablet, translating paper statements, or going to each financial institution’s website to track your accounts.  Having tried many different ways to juggle records of multiple accounts, I decided to try Mint.

Mint.com is a free, secure website that offers a one-stop solution for tracking your financial accounts and budgets.  Here is a short video that highlights the powerful features Mint has to offer.

My experience

The setup process was easy.  I had all of my financial accounts on one screen in only a few minutes.  Before Mint, I would have to visit six different websites and wait for another paper statement to come in the mail before I could determine my financial standing.  Now, I visit Mint and I’m done. 

One of my favorite features of Mint is the “Trends” section.  Mint provides excellent charts that plot past trends in income, expenses, assets, debts, and net worth.  Through these charts I can easily determine, for example, if I have been keeping to my budget and whether or not I am progressing in my financial goals.     

I’ve found the budget tool to be powerful, too.  Rather than manually entering expenses from store receipts into an Excel spreadsheet, all I do is visit Mint and make sure it properly categorizes my expenses after it automatically pulls them from my bank account.  You can even create and edit your own budget categories to fit your situation.  With flexibilities such as being able to split expenses (assign portions of a single transaction to different budget categories), and set whether or not budget categories start over or roll over each month, it is one of the best free budgeting tools out there.

Cons

The only downside I have been able to identify is that some financial institutions, mostly smaller ones, have not yet partnered with Mint.  For example, for a couple of months I could not add my 401(k) account because Mint’s system could not yet sync with that particular institution.  However, Mint is growing by leaps and bounds and is constantly increasing their partnership base.  Just last month I was able to add my 401(k).

Conclusion

Having been with Mint now for a few months, I can definitely say that I’m sold.  Mint has become an essential financial tool that I use almost daily.  Mint has definitely helped me organize my personal finances and I recommend it to others who are seeking to do the same.