Apr 1, 2016

How I Use Mint

Mint.com is an exceptional website designed to help people keep track of spending, budget, and set goals while occasionally marketing various financial products to users.  On the whole, the user experience is outstanding, and is a site I use several times a week.

Here's What I Use

The "dashboard" screen when you log in consolidates all of your financial accounts (and property) into one place, giving you an up to date look at your personal balance sheet.  I have many accounts which I use for different purposes, so I definitely like this screen the most.  For example, the "cash" section in the upper left provides the balances for any checking or savings accounts in one simple to read area.  Mint also gathers any data on account "titles" from your banks, for example, I use Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) and each of my accounts have names such as:
  • MBA Savings Account
  • Vacation Account
  • New Car Account
  • Home Down Payment Account
  • Wedding Account (Thanks to Mint, this one is paid for with zero debt)!
I really like how Mint takes all of this data and consolidates it in one place for you.

Beneath the cash section is your credit liabilities, providing the user a nice snapshot of what you owe on any loans, lines of credit, and credit cards so you can manage  checking account balances accordingly.

Just below credit and liabilities are investments.  This gives you the same type of snapshot, but for taxable and tax advantaged accounts.  I also have my savings account in a short term bond fund at vanguard, so this is found here also.

Another great feature is the way Mint tracks your spending.  In the middle of the page, it provides a "budget" section with a color coded bar which gives you a feel for how you are doing on your monthly budget targets.  I only budget groceries, restaurants, and gas, but you can personalize this as much as you want.  All you need to do is click on the word "budget," set a monthly target, and categorize your spending in the "transactions" section as you go.

I also really enjoy the "goals" section.  I am currently saving for a trip, a new car, and retirement, so each of these goals has a target, target date, and monthly savings target.  It really gives you a lift when you hit your monthly savings goals!

Lastly, Mint.com will send you a weekly "financial summary" email detailing each of your budget categories, as well as a snapshot of account balances and total net worth figure.  Watching your net worth figure rise is a big motivator to save, as the progress you make adds up!

...and What I Don't Use

Some of the areas I don't use are the upcoming bills notification and portfolio movers and shakers.  I don't really pay attention to my portfolio holdings, except to re balance to my target allocation once/year.  The ways to save section offers products from 401k and credit card companies to potentially save the user money, but I don't really use this.

Overall, this is an outstanding site and I'm sure many of you use it already.  However, if you don't definitely try it!  I was a little concerned before signing up about the safety of my financial information, but Mint is REALLY on the ball with this important area, and all sign-in information to your various accounts remain fully confidential.

Give it a try, you may find that it completely reshapes your spending and saving habits!!!


Tortoise Banker

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