Thanks to ever-advancing technology, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your personal finances using a wide range of software solutions, apps, and cloud-based programs. One service that is consistently specialized in this area is
When you first fire up Mint, you’re asked to add any accounts you’re interested in tracking. These include checking, savings, investment and credit card accounts. To link an account, you simply enter login details for each and the software does the rest, bringing your transactions straight into the Mint interface. While handing over those credentials to a third party may sound a bit intimidating, the software takes extra precautions to protect your data, including storing login details in a separate database protected by multi-layer encryption. Mint is also owned by Intuit, the same company that owns TurboTax and QuickBooks, so they’re no strangers to handling and protecting sensitive data—and they’re certified by security experts Norton.
Once your accounts are uploaded, the software immediately starts analyzing your spending patterns to detect trends. It does this based on an automatic assignment of categories to each transaction and while it does a fair job of guessing, for complete accuracy, you’ll want to go through all transactions initially and the way You want to assign them accordingly as you do your accounting. The program will remember your choices and go ahead and make the correct assignments. While you can’t change the top-level options, you can create second-level categories to fine-tune the software. You can also use custom tags for transactions to make it easier to find your financial history.
Accounts are updated frequently, or you can force updates through a sync function, which means you don’t have to wait until your banking statements arrive each month to see where you stand financially. have to do.
Mint also gives you a real-time look at your credit score for free (as long as you provide your Social Security number when you start it). It receives this data from TransUnion and will alert you whenever new information is added or there is a question about your credit status.
Investment tracking is also included at no extra charge and Mint will also compare your portfolio to major benchmarks like the S&P 500, as well as analyze brokerage fees and alert you to potential savings.
Lastly, Mint will help you create a budget and alert you whenever you’re approaching spending more in the categories you’ve set. Alerts will also come when unusual charges (such as credit card late fees) appear or when large, suspicious transactions appear on any of your accounts.
Why is it free?
Mint comes with advertising for financial products that may be of interest to you. While ad-based software is usually annoying, we found Mint to suggest really useful products and investment tools. For example, because it knows how much you’re paying in bank fees, it can suggest accounts that have lower fees that will save you money.
Overall, it is almost impossible to find a more robust, secure and helpful financial planning app for free anywhere. In fact, Mint can hold its own compared to most paid accounting solutions, so it’s definitely worth a try.
Download Mint now for free