With bills, rent/mortgage, student loans, credit cards, savings, and much more, how do you keep track of all of it? And is there a free budget software that makes it easy?
Someone recently told me, “I know exactly how much I spend each month. I keep track of it in my head.”
Keeping track of your finances in your head, may not be the most effective. Especially if you’re not a budgeter!
The good news is, you don’t need to keep a running tab stored in your brain. We all know what happens when you miss a payment.
Many years ago, I met with a financial planner who wanted to help me set up my first investment.
He said, “We take care of all the confusing stuff for you. You don’t need Mint or other budget software.”
I thought, “what’s Mint?”
After the appointment, I went home, set up an online account, and never spoke with him again.
Since then, Mint has become a huge part of my life and has done more for me than the gold based annuity he was trying to sell me.
I want to share with you why I’ve used Mint so much and the benefits it’s brought to me.
What is Mint and Why Should You Use It?
Mint is a free money management software that was acquired by Intuit in 2009, the same company that owns Quickbooks and Turbotax.
It’s super easy to use with a clean user interface. It gives you a clear overview of your finances.
It connects to all of your existing accounts to help you stay on top of managing your money in one place.
“Every time you visit their site, your financial data gets updated automatically. It presents your financial information in a slick easy-to-use web interface, with pretty graphs and all.”– Investor Junkie
Mint has helped over 10 million Americans reduce their debt, pay their bills on time, and increase their overall net worth.
You’ll find boatloads of other great software to use for your money, but none of them really come close to Mint.
So, what are the features?
It’s incredible that Mint offers this budget software for free!
They receive their funding through companies that offer deals such as credit cards, investments, and recently, loans, and many other offers.
You can ignore the advertising links, but if you really are in the market for different products, it’s a great place to shop around.
With the amount of online fraud, it’s common to worry about your personal information being stolen.
It’s usually a concern for people to connect a third-party to their bank account. However, Mint uses bank-level security.
They cannot transfer funds or access your account. They can only view it as read-only. Kind of like taking a picture of your bank account balances and putting it all in one place and giving you a quantitative analysis.
Mint is also analyzed and certified by prominent third-party providers like TrustArc, VeriSign and other trusted professionals in online security.
We love having everything in one easy-to-see dashboard. Mint gives you a complete overview of your finances and having it in one place brings peace of mind.
Imagine the days before Walmart when you went to multiple stores to buy what you needed.
Now you get everything at one store.
Mint does the same. No need to go to each bank, loan, or credit card website separately to view your balances.
Free Credit Score
Mint gives you a free credit score!
But you’ve probably heard of free credit scores and how they are not really accurate.
Let’s be honest, what credit score is actually accurate?
Once you sign up for the free credit score, it may be off, but the biggest benefit is the summary of your overall credit situation.
From payment history, credit limit and usage, inquiries, and more information that explains why your credit score sucks or is really good.
Although it may not be your exact credit score, it’s smart to have a rough ballpark estimate of where you are.
How easy is it to forget when your bills are due?
It’s a good idea to set up automatic payments, but for those bills that are variable, set up an alert to be sent to your phone or email a number of days in advance so you’ll never miss a payment.
Mint has more than 20 types of alerts to notify you of fees, warn you if you’re going over budget, or let you know if something seems suspicious.
I get an alert every time a purchase of $200 or more is made with one of my credit cards, in case it get’s stolen.
One of my favorite things about Mint is the Trends section.
Have you ever had these questions?
- How much did I actually spend last month?
- What categories do I spend the most on?
- Or how has my net worth changed over the past year?
You can answer all of these questions and many more in the Trends section.
“You can’t manage something you don’t measure”
A few years ago, I was asked to write down all of my expenses for the month. I wrestled with myself to think of everything I spent my money on. It seemed like things changed every month.
When I finished with my expense sheet, I knew in my mind that it was not accurate.
With trends, you can take the average amount spent each month throughout the entire year, or multiple years. This gives you an idea of the actual amount of money that is spent on different categories each month.
This is a great way to get started with a budget and setting goals to spend less and save more. Which brings me to my last point.
Each of us has goals:
- Going on a vacation
- Saving for a home
- Paying off student loans
- Saving money for Christmas gifts
Mint helps you reach those goals by assessing the amount the goal requires. It then gives you a specific date in the future and tells you how much money each month needs to be allocated to that goal.
It will let you know each month where you put enough or not enough money towards your goals and whether or not you are on track to achieve it.
With all the services this free budget software offers at no cost, why wouldn’t you use it?
I’m not affiliated with Mint, I’m simply a raving fan. Whenever they release an update, I get excited. And I love it when other people tell me they started using Mint and that I was the one that introduced them to it.
The only downside with Mint I’ve found is the investments section.
I haven’t understood how my investment accounts are aggregated and how I did compared to the market.
Mint is great for basic money management and budgeting but if you’re looking for something a little more in-depth that gives you a clear idea of how your investments are performing, I use Personal Capital. You can read more about my review of Personal Capital.
If you haven’t opened a Mint account yet, I urge you to do so.
Stick with it for a few months or years and I hope to hear from you on how your experience has been.
It’s safe, free, accurate, easy to use, and convenient. This free budget software has many more capabilities and features that I didn’t mention, but that you’ll soon discover.
It’s time to be good with your money.