Have you heard of Mint.com? Mint is a personal finance site that links all of your financial accounts to one place and helps you keep track of your expenses. They also have a handy iPhone app that I use every day to stay on top of my spending. The best thing about Mint is it’s free! There are some other financial aggregators out there, but Mint is by far the best. In fact, they were recently purchased by Intuit(makers of Quicken and TurboTax).
The only downside to Mint is the fact that you must sacrifice all your personal financial information. Personally, this doesn’t bother me because I use Mint every day to spot financial abnormalities. Mint covers its operating expenses using advertisements and customized product recommendations. It uses your data to provide relevant advertisements to its consumers.
So Why Use Mint?
I use Mint because it’s simple and streamlined. It allows me to check my daily spending and stay on top of my budget. If you’re struggling to save, Mint can be an effective budgeting tool. It’s still up to you though to follow through and track your spending. When I joined Mint about a year ago, I set up a simple budget that would allow me to save $1,000 dollars a month if I followed it. Here’s an example of my budget from last month:
At the end of each month, I like to go through my budget and see what I overspent on. I make a conscious effort to reduce that the next month. Looking at this budget, you can see that I did a pretty good job saving this month. My only large purchase came under ‘Everything Else’ when I put a deposit down on a hotel in Hawaii. It’s easy to forget about what purchases you make each month, and I love how Mint automatically categorizes all your credit card transactions. In addition, you can also enter cash transactions with their mobile app. In January I was over budget on Alcohol & Bars so I made sure to cut back in February
Why Not to Use Mint?
Although Mint is technically free, you are ‘paying’ for their services by providing them with all your financial purchases. This data is very valuable to financial services companies and Mint makes a lot of it’s money from affiliate advertisements. For example, if you are charged an annual fee on your credit card, Mint might recommend you apply for a new no annual fee credit card. Some people might find this handy, but others may find it obtrusive.
Remember though, no humans(even Mint employees) are able to access your user name and passwords for your other financial sites. Although a security breach is possible and we often hear about it in the news, I don’t think it should stop you from using Mint. If you use Mint every day like I do, you’ll be able to stay on top of any abnormal activity.
So what do you think, are you willing to sacrifice all your personal financial information for a great free service like Mint? Or do you like to use a less intrusive budgeting software?