How I Use Mint.com To Keep Track of My Money

I use Mint.com, the free online-based personal finance software, and their iPhone app to keep track of all of our financial accounts. This includes the checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and other loans, the mortgage, and all of our investment accounts.

I check the app once a week or so to see how my accounts are doing, and to make sure I don’t need to move any money around. I also get alerts when I have a low balance or when I’ve spent an unexpected amount in a category. Although Mint can do a heck of a lot more, this is mainly what I use it for: seeing the big picture of our money situation. Here’s more about Mint…

Mint Home Page

Mint Home Page

The Overview – See All Your Accounts at Once

This is where the magic happens. When you sign up with Mint, you get to add your whole financial picture to one big dashboard. No more logging into multiple accounts and creating spreadsheets. Mint brings that to you with their overview page. At the bottom of this page you are even presented with your net worth. A nice number to track over time.

Other Mint.com Features

Transactions – Of course, you can drill down into each of your transactions and see how much you were charged, the date, and the description. Mint will automatically assign an income or expense category. The program is pretty good about getting this categorization right. But there are some items you may need to manually correct.

Budgets – Mint allows you to set monthly budgets for your spending categories. In fact, even if you don’t set a budget, it will assign a default budget to each category. When you breach those budget numbers, your overview page will show alerts detailing where you are over. Again, I really don’t use the budget feature. But it’s well worth a look if you are trying to crack down on spending.

Goals – This is a brand new feature at Mint. I really like what they’ve done here. One of the first steps to any solid savings plan is having a few goals in mind. Why manage your money if you’re not going to do something with it right? What Mint does, in a fun and intuitive way, is to help you create goals for savings or debt reduction. You start by selecting your goal, follow their prompts in estimating your needs and how long it will take. If it’s a savings goal, you let them know which of your accounts you’ll be using to save for the goal. They track the account and keep up with your progress. Likewise with a debt reduction goal, they track the debt account and see how you are performing each month.

Mint Savings Goals Feature

Mint Savings Goals Feature

Trends – This is where your graphs and charts are. The categories you assign to your spending drives this cool feature. Fun to look at and really will give you and idea of your habits and areas for improvements.

Investments – This is basically a drill down into your investment accounts. With online access to your accounts, Mint is able to determine which funds you are invested in. They display all sorts of information including your performance, value, allocation, and comparisons to the market (very cool).

Ways to Save – One of the unique features of Mint is their suggestion tool under the Ways to Save tab. This is essentially how Mint makes a bit of their money. The refer you to products that will give you a better savings rate, lower fees, or lower interest rates on debt.

The Mint iPhone App

Like I mentioned above I also have the Mint iPhone app which basically just taps into the online tool. You can’t add accounts from here, but you can see an overview of your accounts and drill down into details. I use this app 99% of the time vs. going to the .com site.

Security Concerns

Mint does gain access to your login credentials. So there is the potential for exposure of this information. However, Mint contends they have bank-level security. So if you trust the Bank of Americas and the INGs of the world, you probably can trust Mint. Here’s more about their security.

Mint Security Video

Note: An alternative to Mint would be to create this with a manual spreadsheet and update it yourself by logging into your accounts periodically. Lucky for you I’ve created such a spreadsheet.

Time to get started tracking your accounts with Mint. Sign up for free and add your accounts to see your net worth.

Last Edited: January 28, 2016 @ 10:25 pmThe content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. I don’t use mint.com but I do use Bank of America My Portfolio. It provides all of the same features you discussed (including net worth calculations). I agree with your overall point that anybody who really wants to get ahead financially should have some dashboard metrics and information they are reviewing about all of their financial accounts.

    Let’s face it. Seat-of-the-pants accounting is a Betty Crocker recipe for financial disaster!

    All of these tools are ultimately designed to get us in touch with our money. Being out of touch with our money and where it’s going is like aiming for financial security without a roadmap. Good luck with that!

    • I agree, my portfolio is great – but lacks one very useful feature – there is no iphone app! Mint is great because you review your budgets before you buy in a store/restaurant. Now if Mint would only figure out how to connect to BofA everything would be great…

  2. Great comment, AG. I used to use My Portfolio, which incorporated reward and airline miles. Very cool.

  3. This is what i have been looking, one stop management for all personal finance matters.. excellent…

  4. I was using Quicken Online, which I loved. Then just this month, they are closing it down and incorporating into Mint.com. I was fine with this, except now on Mint, I cannot see my activity from either Bank of America or Fifth Third Bank, which is where I do almost 90% of my banking. I just logged in this morning and NONE of my accounts would update. Wondering if you’re having the same issues? Also wondering if Mint is paying bloggers to write about their site since I’ve seen several posts about them?

  5. @Becky – Yes, I was a fan of Quicken Online too. I still have my old account there. Are you able to see any detailed information? Or are you saying you can’t see data from BOA because you can’t do an update? When I’ve had update trouble in the past, it’s always because I have my login security credentials wrong.

    As for Mint paying bloggers, I don’t think they do that. To clarify, I do not do paid posts (e.g. “here’s $100, please write about x product”). They did just open their affiliate program up at Commission Junction though. That could have something to do with the increase in reviews you are seeing. Definitely made me more motivated. But I love Mint and would (and have) written about them long before they had an affiliate program.

  6. @PT-I was able to add my accounts to Mint a few weeks ago, but they never update with current information. And it’s not just my login information because my daughter has an account and I incorporated her information as well and it never updates either. I do not use “Safe Pass”, which is what the help section says could be the problem. While BOA had balances from when I first was able to sign in, my Fifth Third accounts show up, but with 0 balances. I’m so disappointed that I can’t continue using these tools to track my finances! I REALLY like using these snapshots and the fact that there are Apps out there, but so frustrating right now! I had to resort to creating a spreadsheet to track my transactions until I can get this thing going! I’m so bummed that Quicken is cutting this off in 2 weeks!

  7. I’ve noticed that I have to actually press the update button on the Overview page now. Before it used to auto-update when I logged in.

    If that’s not the issue then I have to think it’s something with the secure connection with BOA and Fifth Third.

    I have to assume that If everyone was having issues with BOA updates, then we’d be hearing about it. I’d encourage you to report this as an issue under the “get help” section. Hope you can get it worked out.

  8. For the first 3 months on Mint I could not get my main bank to load several accts into Mint after numberous tries. All other accounts were tracked just fine. Then, one day my main accts showed up and have been working and loading each time I log in. This has helped me with my finances more than just about any tool I have found. (Second to Dave Ramsey)

  9. I like Mint! They also have a pretty good help page that tells you of known and resolvable issues and other issues that have not been fixed. The help page fixed all my problems with the exception of one, my car loan shows up as a credit card because it is through a small bank. However, they were working on a solution. I haven’t checked to see whether I can now change the designation because it really doesn’t matter.

  10. I appreciate the comments on this site. Our financial advisor suggested we sign up on mint.com, and I was taken aback by the fact that it sees all of our accounts (I thought it would just be checking). So it’s good to see others’ experiences of the site.

  11. Hey PT- I realize this was written a couple years ago… Do you have any updated info on mint v mvelopes v ynab? -Katie