Mint.com Personal Finance – The easiest way to manage finances on your iPhone

Mint.com is a (free) web-based financial management tool for users to manage all their finances in one place. It is one of the easiest applications to use within the sector and also the one that I trust for our family finances.  I’ve had experience using Quicken, Money, and Excel to manage our money, and while these tools can be very powerful and are highly customizable, they don’t compare favorably to Mint.com when it comes to getting a full picture of your finances with maximum ease.

How Mint.com works both within the website and the accompanying iPhone app is the user first sets up an account using an email address and password.  Do make sure you use a complex, hard to guess password since it will have a TON of personal financial data that I’m sure you’ll not want unauthorized users to get their hands on. On the iPhone, you should also set-up a pass code, since anyone with access to your iPhone will otherwise be able to open up the app. When a user account has been established, you can simply add financial accounts by logging into your various financial institutions (banks, brokerages, credit cards, etc) and grabbing your account activity. Each time you log into Mint.com via either the website or the app, your financial data will get updated. It’s that simple.

The moment you get the data into the app, you can change how the specific transactions are coded.  There are approximately 20 categories of transactions and each have sub-categories, so you can set-up how you want to do the reporting. You can also create more categories or sub-categories if you wish.  Mint.com will automatically assign a transaction type to each transaction that is downloaded. However, I have found this to be wrong about 40% of the time. It would indeed be splendid if Mint is smart enough to “remember” a specific category I assign a particular item/purchase (say a restaurant I frequent), just so I don’t have to manually do it every time. Once a month, I spend about 30 minutes going through my transactions and re-assigning the wrong or “uncategorized” ones.

Once you’re comfortable with how your transactions are categorized, you can set-up budgets for each of your major categories. My suggestion is to keep it simple and only monitor categories that you truly care about. If you really want to see how much you spend on candy bars each month, you can split up each transaction into small chucks, but I certainly don’t care down to this level of detail. At the end of each month, I’ll review my budget to actually see how we did and I’ll track it against previous months. If needed, I’ll update the budget to something more realistic or I can think about ways to cut back in certain areas.  Additionally, if I’m spending more on say shopping this month than my trending has been for the past 3 months, I will get alerts on my iPhone.

There are also several features that are available (though I don’t make use of), like actively monitoring trends across multiple months. Mint.com also allows users to set-up goals such as paying off debt, buying a home or saving for retirement that can be tracked via the website.

One of my favorite views from my iPhone is simply the front end login page. It displays an overview of my cash balance, budget performance, cash flow, alerts, and my investments. When I’m on the go, all I need to do is open up the app, let it sync for about a minute, and get a 100% up-to-date view of my financial picture.

The reason why I didn’t really differentiate between the app and the website is that 95% of what I can do on the web, I can also perform within the app. The only items that I don’t think is available are the ability to set-up new accounts and new transaction categories. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same set of features.

Mint.com has been designed from the ground up to be as user friendly as possible. The financial tool focuses on usability and improved visibility into the user’s finances without being the bloat-ware that Quicken and Money have become. Both the website and iPhone app are super easy to use and the feature set is just right for people who want to monitor and track their finances without spending too much fiddling with the software.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Mint.com Personal FinanceDeveloper: Mint.com
Reviewed Ver:1.9.34Min OS Req:
Price:FreeApp Size:9.22MB
  • Most user friendly financial management software out there
  • iPhone replicates nearly all of the functionality of the website.
  • Let’s you manage your finances in minutes each month
  • It’s Free!!
  • Doesn’t remember how the user codes transaction to category assignments each month
  • Doesn’t pull in details of check-based transactions
  • iPhone app only provides for pass code based security, which isn’t as secure

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