For February, I’m going to be focusing on finances.
For getting an incredible overview of my finances, I turn to Mint. By connecting all various bank accounts, credit cards, my mortgage, and even some manually updated loans like the one for my orthodontic work, I can quickly see where my money is going.
Mint has a quite a few features that make it worthwhile for me:
1. Creating a Budget – Because Mint has access to every transaction across my accounts, it can not only tell how much money I have coming in each month, but also what I’m spending. Because of this, Mint already had a pretty good idea of what my monthly spending looked like. I just needed to make a few adjustments to get my spending in alignment with my financial goals. After the initial set up, Mint takes care of the rest with minimal effort on my part. Occasionally a transaction will get categorized incorrectly and I’ll need to adjust it, or my mortgage payment will be processed a day or two early causing it to look like I’ve exceeded my mortgage spending. A feature I’ve been enjoying lately is the ability to set up spending categories to rollover to the next month or span across multiple months which I find useful for things like groceries or gas where I tend to spend more or less depending on my plans. Mint really makes it easy to see how much income you have, how much you’ve budgeted, and what’s left over. They even suggest ways to use that left over money like paying off credit cards or reaching your goals sooner.
2. Notifications – The obvious use case for notifications would be if I’m coming close to or have exceeded a spending category on my budget. I love Mint for this alone, but it also notifies me of large transactions or when my spending is abnormal. These notifications has saved my butt on more than one occasion, like when a disgruntled JCPenney support rep charged my credit card without authorization or the morning I woke up to find that my credit card had been used to pay for someone else’s several thousand dollar college tuition balance.
3. Graphs – I’m a sucker for graphs, and Mint has graphs for everything. Given that I’m focused on paying off my remaining debt, the two I use most are Debts Over Time and Net Worth Over Time. Watching the debt fall and the line on my Net Worth gradually increase is beyond satisfying, and Income Over Time is nice way to jog my memory as well. Since I’ve been tracking things with Mint for so long, I can literally see each promotion I’ve ever received on a graph.
4. Available Wherever I’m At – None of this would be useful if I couldn’t access it whenever I needed to. Whether I want to quickly check my accounts from my phone using their mobile app, get a quick notification using their desktop app, or view everything online, Mint makes it super easy to get the information I need wherever I’m at.
The one feature I’d love to have in Mint that actually worked as intended is their Goals tab where you can select a goal like paying off debt or saving for an emergency. The idea is that Mint helps you plan these things out and tracks your progress. Sadly, my Pay Off Credit Card Debt goal has never worked quite right despite reaching out to Mint.
In my next post, I’ll discuss what I’m using instead of Mint to help with paying back my credit card debt. Stay tuned.