Not to be confused with MintMobile, our cell phone provider, Mint.com has been around in some form since its inception in 2006. It is a finance and budget tracking app and website. It has a number of great uses, but for the last few years, I’ve primarily used it as a one-stop hub to keep track of account balances, both positive and negative.
When managing finances and getting out of debt, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by all of the accounts you may have open, and how to keep track of each one of them. You may have three or four credit cards, all with different websites and logins. You may have student loans with multiple loans bundled within them, or your loans might be a combination of government loans and private. Maybe you have a couple of checking accounts or savings accounts, and those too require continual logins (and remembering those credentials) to access balances and other account information. Wouldn’t it be great if all your balances could be clearly listed out and updated without you having to keep track of some insane spreadsheet or checkbook? Mint flexes its muscle in this area, making the complex process of tracking balances quite simple.
When you first create a Mint account, you can start adding your accounts one at a time. For example, you can start with your main checking account. You are prompted to sign into it once, and then whenever you sign into Mint again, voila, there is your updated account balance for your checking. You can then add your credit card accounts, one at a time, by logging into them and letting Mint import all of your transaction and balance info. Say you get logged into your four credit cards. Next time you want to know how much total you owe on your credit cards, just sign into Mint! It will have your grand total neatly listed out with all of the credit card account balances beneath it.
Another great use of Mint is to track student loans. Jos and I each have our own login portals for our loan providers. Instead of having to access each set of loans separately, we just added them both to my Mint account. When we make one of our big loan payments, we can log into Mint and see the Loans section drop by whatever amount we paid on. It’s very rewarding watching that balance drop over time.
Lesser used and less important for our stage in the game are the Investments and Property portions. Here you can add your investment accounts to track your account balance there, very similar to how you track student loans or checking accounts, for example. And with Property, you can add things like cars or a house. We have our two cars added in this section. Mint reaches out to KBB (Kelley Blue Book) to get approximate values for private party value based on the car’s age, make, model and mileage. A nice feature, but not super useful day in and day out.
One last feature that Mint added not too long ago is a free credit score monitor. I have another favorite app dedicated for this (spoiler alert: it’s Credit Karma), but it is a nice freebie that lets you keep an eye on your credit score and track its trends, as well as giving you some advice on how to raise your credit score. Just be aware, they do try to sell you things from some of their affiliates.
Some of you may be wondering if it is safe to have one site handle all of this important financial info. That is up to you, but I find it to be just as safe as logging into any other financial institution through a web browser. The site is secure (it uses encryption technology) and has the same if not better security standards as the other sites you would access anyway for banking and account information. As usual though, never log into any sensitive banking site while using public wifi or from a device that is not yours. Also, always use secure, long and complex passwords.
Mint can also be used as a powerful budget creation and tracking tool. They have an excellent app for iPhone and Android alike, and the website is pretty streamlined and easy to use. We do not use it for budgeting (we use Simple bank, another tool you’ll hear more about later), but I know many people use the budget features and enjoy them.
Mint is a great way to view your zoomed out, “big picture” financial standing on one site. It minimizes the need to log into multiple sites. Its interface is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate. Everyone can find value in what Mint has to offer its users. Did I mention, it’s free? Happy budgeting, friends!