And yet, everytime I’ve mentioned Excel, a number of you have commented or emailed me to sing the praises of your favorite budgeting software: Mint.com.
For the uninitiated, Mint.com is a FREE online budgeting system, which helps you to track spending, savings, debt repayment and more. In a nutshell, it makes managing your money a whole lot easier.
Now I will admit that I was resistant to try something new. After all, Excel was working for me. But with all the positive hype for Mint.com, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
So I signed up for a free account and spent an hour fooling around with it. I linked up to our debit and credit cards, our ING accounts, and our retirement funds.
At first, I wasn’t all that impressed. I thought, “Meh, my Excel charts are just as good. What do I need with this Mint.com?”
But then a few days later, I got a email from Mint.com, telling me that we had gone over budget in our housing category. (We hadn’t really gone over budget. I had just programmed in the dollar amount of our mortgage payment, not realizing that the cents would trigger an “over budget” warning.)
But the cool thing about this (somewhat pedantic) reminder was that without me even having to THINK about it, Mint was there, reminding us to get back on track.
Typically, my husband and I are quite careful about our spending. But occasionally we get our wires crossed and one of us will inadvertently overspend in a particular category.
Either we’re scrambling to make a mid-month budgetary change or, worse, we don’t even realize it until we come up short at the end of the month.
So with that friendly little reminder from Mint.com, I decided to take a second look. And the more I played with it, the more I liked it. Here are some of my favorites things:
- It’s visual – What can I say? I like those colorful charts and graphs! If you’re a visual learner like me, you will probably love it, too.
- It’s automated – Even when we get a little overwhelmed or disorganized, Mint.com keeps us focused and on track by automatically syncing up our financials without even having to be asked.
- It’s customizable – Short of directly importing our Excel chart, setting up the budget in Mint.com could not have been easier. I got to name all of my categories (and sub-categories) and then change them whenever I need.
- It’s exhaustive – We have a lot of accounts. A lot. It kind of makes me crazy, having to remember to check and update all of them all of the time. Enter Mint.com. From your checking (we have three) and savings to your credit cards to your investments for retirement and college, and even to your PayPal account, Mint.com can pull it all together and be your one-stop shop.
- It’s FREE – ‘Nuff said.
- It’s got bank – Named the best online personal finance tool by Money Magazine, Mint.com is bankrolled by Intuit, which also happens to be the founder of Quicken.
The one drawback? I’m still not sure how “secure” I feel about uploading all of my banking information. I know Mint.com has tons of security measures in place (and 1.5 million Americans seem to feel it’s secure), but even still.. I remain a bit apprehensive. That said, I did find this article from the NY Times, which was helpful to me in deciding to go forward.
If you’d like to give it a whirl, you sign up for Mint.com for free here.
Those are the plusses and minuses as I see it. But I’d love to hear from the other Mint.com users, too: What are your impressions of Mint – good or bad?