Jan 26, 2010

Mint.com - Part 1 of Who Knows How Many? (Janssen)

When Merrick posted last week about how she budgets, several people mentioned that they used mint.com or had considered using it. My mom emailed both of us saying, "Should one of us give it a whirl so we can have an informed opinion?"

Happily, Bart and I have been using mint.com for over a year now, so I have many things to say about it (of course, if you read my personal blog, you probably know I would likely have many things to say about it even if I'd only used it one time ever).

Let me say this first - I do not like paper. I do not want to go through all my receipts, I do not want to print anything out, and I don't want to do a lot of work. Basically, I want to do Lazy Person Budgeting. Probably because I am, at heart, a lazy person.

So, for me, mint.com has been a terrific solution. It does a lot of the work for me, it's all online, available from every computer, and I don't have any paper to deal with.

Mint.com is a free online program (nothing to download) that you can use to manage all your bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and assets in one place.You can track your spending on a day to day basis and you can create and stick to your budget there. It also (and this is the biggest selling point for Bart) records every transaction you make, so you know when you pull out $20 from an ATM, or spend $4.27 at the grocery store on a Thursday afternoon or buy $1,000 worth of plane tickets. You can go through and look at every cent you've spent and categorize it.Basically, it's all in one. (And did I mention FREE?)

If you're familiar with Quicken (which my parents have used for years and years), you'll be happy to know that mint.com is their online version. I personally like mint.com far better than I ever liked Quicken. I think the interface is better, it's more user-friendly, and, well, it's just prettier.

Here's what my homepage looks like when I sign in (I've blanked out some things for privacy). 

You can add all the accounts you have to the left sidebar, including savings, credit cards, loans, mortgages, and checking accounts. It will automatically update those accounts every time you log in (one less thing for me to do), so you know instantly how much money you have available, how much you've spent on your credit card, and what your ratio of debt to cash is.

At the top there are alerts, things like "You have spent $520 on gas this month. Usually you spend $125," so you have something to tell you if you're way off your normal spending (this happened last month when we got new phones and so our cell phone bill was more than double the normal amount while we waited for our rebate checks).

Then you have the budget section in the center, which has all sorts of handy information available at a glance.

Later this week, I'll talk more about using it to budget (because I know you need some reason to look forward to Friday), and the specific ways that I use it. For now, I'll just reaffirm my love of mint.com and suggest you look into it.  Easy, fast, and free? What's not to like?


Ashley and Danny G said...

Also-mint.com has an iPhone app that allows you to easily check your balances, etc. with just one tap...genius!!! Thanks for introducing me to it.

janet said...

I signed up this weekend (spurred by our email convo last week) and I love it already. I am eager to have a few months of it finished so there is more perspective on where our money is going so I can do a better job budgeting forward, ya know? Thanks for the endorsement of mint!

Lisa C said...

I am not a particularly paranoid person, but does it worry you at all that this one site has all of your financial information?

Packrat said...

I'm with Lisa. My husband is a computer guru (of sorts). He would have a fit about this. (It has taken him years just to let me do online banking.) Husband doesn't even think that businesses should do their bookkeeping on the same computer that goes online. Too easy to hack into. And, yes it happens. (Also, to me, it could let "Big Brother" watch. I'm not normally paranoid, either, but...) Different generation, I guess.

Bart said...

That 5th anniversary trip needs some funding!

Leslie said...

I'm trying to love mint.com but it is giving me fits trying to update my accounts. When I tried to add a few new accounts, it couldn't connect to them either. Is this unusual?

Budgeting is on my 40-before-40 list and I only have 8 months left to accomplish this successfully!


megan said...

I (not surprisingly) have never heard of this. I haven't had quicken since our windows crashed on our old computer. Don't mock me, apple user :) So, that has been over a year and that's the last time I have even paid attention to what categories our money has gone to. It sounds great. Can you post your answers to the others' questions, though?

Nathan Pralle said...

The only problem with Mint.com is that if you use a small bank, you're S.O.L. It has no ability to connect to my small-town bank even though we're online, so it's worthless. :( Wish they had all the other parts available in a manual format, because I could use the iPhone app then to keep them up-to-date.

Becky said...

Thanks for this post! I read in consumer report that they really liked Mint.com, but liked quickenonline.com better...for one reason and now I can't remember what it was. This was on my list of things to do this month... you've inspired me and I'm going to do it and am very excited! Thanks!!! And thanks to you I'm going with mint.com!