Maybe its the Type A or maybe its the ENTJ. I'm not sure what the best way to share my desire for a well ordered life is, but suffice it to say, I care about order -- especially in finances.
Which is why I have to break it to you: If you're using Intuit's Mint.com for your personal finance management your money could do better.
In high school I managed my money in a spreadsheet. That worked well until I got a credit card in college. I couldn't get my budget to sync up after that. So I turned to Mint.com. The web-based application promised to pull transactions directly from my bank (a feature I have yet to part with) and help me budget my expenses.
Three months in, however, and I was starting to piece together that Mint wasn't quite working for me.
Psssst. Your money can do better.
What Mint Gets Right
1. Mint is free
It's hard enough to admit that my finances were spinning out of control. It's even harder to convince myself that I need to spend money to save money. Mint.com is free and appeals to most people who need an entrance into money management.
2. Categorizing Transactions
Most of us have no clue how much money we're spending at certain places cough Target, or on categories like food, until we see it grouped together in one place. Mint does a phenomenal job of showing you where you've spent money, after you've spent it.
3. Goal Setting
Mint lets you set goals for your money and track progress. Most importantly, these goals are shown with easy to read charts.
Why You Need an Upgrade
1. Every Dollar Should Have a Job
Mint shows you where you have already spent your money. The best budgeting apps help you plan what to do with your money, as you earn it, and before you spend it. My favorite tool for this is YNAB. I have previously used Mvelopes, and found that tool fantastic too!
2. Mint Has Bad Memory
I found myself re-categorizing the same vendors and purchases month after month. This meant that the convenient charts weren't helpful until I recategorized everything.
3. No Rollover Means No Games
In YNAB, there's no such thing as rollover. All expenses must be accounted for. Any credit payments that aren't paid off by the end of the month become a part of your debt total. Finally, YNAB orients you towards prioritizing your expenses and paying down that debt.
4. Paid Apps Mean No Sketchy Data Policies
A paid tool doesn't try to undermine your financial health by recommending new services like credit cards or loans, that may not be right for your situation.
If you're using Mint and looking to upgrade, or in the market for a budgeting tool I recommend you check out YNAB. If you use this link, you'll get the standard 30 day free trial as well as a free additional month if you choose to sign up.
This is not to say that Mint.com is not the perfect tool for you. I recommend everyone take a look at it, because any step towards financial wellness is a good step to take. However, if you've been feeling like Mint is not what you need, treat your money to a step up in the budgeting game. It's worth the cost.
If you'd like for me to explain the cost/benefits of paying for a money management tool, sound off below.
Note: My experiences with Mint.com were from the website version in 2010-12. While there have been some improvements to the functions I've mentioned since then, the core functions of the service remains the same.