Do you want to get a handle on your spending? Have you ever thought about tracking your finances? It is amazing how fast money can disappear if we don’t have a plan. There are many different resources out there to help you manage your finances, however, there is one website that I use that has helped us to become debt-free (except the home) and it is Mint.com. Here is my review of Mint and my experience with the online money management tool thus far.
Track your finances online
This site has revolutionized how I do my budget every month. I used to get my bank statements online and print them out every month. Then I would go down line by line and mark a “V” if it was a vehicle expense, a “HI” if it was a home improvement expense, etc. Then I would put each dollar amount in an excel spreadsheet I created where it would total up all of the expenses. Now that I use Mint, the process is so much easier.
Mint automatically categorizes purchases
This is probably one of my favorite features. If I shop at a grocery store, it will label that purchase “Grocery”. If I stop at a Gas Station it will automatically label the purchase “Gas”. There are some purchases that won’t populate automatically, but it is super easy to fix this. Mint allows you to create “rules” so that if you shop at a certain place and always want it to be labeled the same,you just create a rule and it will label it for you based on what you tell it. For instance, there is a restaurant close to my office where I meet people for lunch. I decided that I wanted to label this “Deacon Misc” and every time I go there this is how it is automatically recorded in Mint.
Mint allows you to create a budget for each category
One of the best ways to get control of your finances is to limit how much money you can spend on a given category. Without any boundaries it is hard to get anything accomplished because there is no goal. As soon as you set a limit on groceries of $300, now there is a goal that you are trying to achieve. You will be more cost conscious as you walk through the grocery store or perhaps you will cut coupons to make sure you stay under the budget you have set.
You can export the data from Mint to Excel
This is a cool feature for two reasons:
1. You can print out an entire month or year of data to be able to get a better idea on how you’re doing with you finances.
2. If you own a business, you can just print out the totals for your business expenses and give it to your accountant when doing taxes. This feature alone will save both you and your accountant a lot of time.
You can link ALL of your accounts
Have you ever wanted to see your entire financial picture in one place? Well, now you can. You can link all of your financial accounts to your Mint account and it will show up all on one page when you log in. I have it pulling in my mortgage balance, bank accounts, 401(k), and more. You can even link your home to Zillow and it will pull in the estimated value so that you can get an idea of what it is worth in today’s market. All you have to do is log in to the financial account through Mint’s interface and it will go out and pull in the data.
Mint is safe and secure
The site is owned by Intuit who is best known for bringing you Quick Books and TurboTax. Mint uses the same 128-bit encryption and physical security that banks use. Their practices are monitored and verified by TRUSTe, VeriSign and Hackersafe, and supported by RSA Security.
Manually input cash transactions
Perhaps your using the cash envelope system and you want to be able to have that tracked in Mint as well. You can absolutely do that. All I do each month is when I take out a cash from the ATM, I label that transaction by splitting it into categories like groceries, entertainment, etc. It takes just a matter of seconds to do this and makes using cash even more convenient.
It even syncs with your phone
Do you want to know if you have any money left in a given category? Let’s say you want to go out to eat and wonder if you have money left in the budget. You can pull up the app on your phone and it will tell you how much you have left to spend for each category you have set up.
If you are interested tracking your finances online for free, find out more at Mint.com.
Do you use Mint and if so, what has your experience been like?