Mint Online Budget Software Review

by Traci K. on August 25, 2010

Mint is one of the many new online budgeting software becoming very popular in the last year or so. I’ve been using Mint for about six months now, sometimes more regularly than others. Registration is fairly straight forward, although it is fairly lengthy including account and budget setup. Mint is completely free to use and syncs your information with your bank accounts by using your online login. Your information is kept safe as Mint uses the same type of security and technology as any type of well known financial institution (banks, tax companies, anyone who handles sensitive financial information). However, the concept of entering your bank account information into the Mint site may make you queasy. Don’t worry, it’s optional! For people like me who hate entering everything by hand, it’s a life saver.

When you log into the account after having linked your bank information or entering sufficient income, budget and receipts, your screen will give you a budget overview showing how much you’ve spent and where it went. If you’re just setting up your account, you can go to the Trends tab to see where your money is actually going. It will show you the last month by default, but you can compare to previous months as well. It may take awhile of editing individual stores and transactions to make sure they are counted in the correct category though. Budget Overview Screenshot Spending Trends Screenshot Trends Comparison Chart Screenshot

Setting budgets is very easy, you simply follow the prompt to create a budget, choose categories and enter amounts. It’s all easy to edit through a very graphic interface. You can even set goals to pay off debts, or save for goals of your choice. The goal portion is pretty new to Mint, but very intuitive to use. It breaks your goal down into monthly goals and tells you about how long it will take to reach your goal. Goal Tracker Screenshot

Pros: Mint is very user friendly, very graphic and automatically pulls from your bank if you want to use that option. It’s great if you’re financially challenged, are new to budgeting, or need feedback and alerts if you go over budget. Mint offers text message and email alerts for a whole list of items varying from low balance to an exceeded budget amount.

Cons: Mint has a lot of options and a lot of things to customize. It can take awhile to set up and if you aren’t somewhat comfortable with computers it might be a challenge. Also, there is a fair amount of advertising. A lot of their “Save on..” options are offers from credit card companies, mortgages, etc. for related services. While they are kept to a minimum, they are prevalent.

I really suggest using Mint if you need help figuring out where your money is going, especially if you are comfortable using your online banking information. If you use email and text messages, it’s a great way to know quickly when you’re going over budget. This would definitely be great for college students trying to track debt (credit cards, student loans, borrowing money from friends) and learning how to budget for the first time. Overall, it’s an excellent program for anyone used to computer and online usage and some of their tools (like the goal tracker) are outstanding.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Calvin Allred February 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I heard about Mint while doing my taxes this year with TurboTax. I have to say it sounds like I should give it a try.

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