Review – Online Personal Finance Budgeting Software


mint logoI’m lazy, and I’m cheap. There, I said it. This means that I don’t have paid money management software like Quicken or You Need a Budget to track my finances. Instead, I learned how to make a budget on spreadsheets and in notebooks, and used them for years.

So when I first stumbled upon, the free online personal finance budgeting application, I knew that I found something that would be very beneficial for me and my family.

When Mint first started out, the site was a pioneer in world of online personal finance tools. In fact, many companies have since created similar applications with a different spin, following the example set by Mint. And while competitors have come and gone, Mint has grown stronger and has become even more useful to people who use it most. It’s also worth mentioning that Mint was acquired by Intuit, the creators of finance software like Quicken, QuickBooks, and TurboTax.

Mint recently added some new features and improved its classic components. Read on to find out what’s new on the site, and how the improvements are working out.

New Features on Mint

1. Net Worth Calculator and Asset Management has always made it easy to set up your online accounts: They ask you a few questions, and then you choose your bank from a pull-down list and enter your username and password. You never leave Mint’s secure servers, and the system quickly ports in your account information.

You used to be limited to basic bank accounts only. Now, one of the most impressive changes is that Mint allows you to sync almost all financial accounts to your Mint account. You can hook up checking accounts, savings accounts, stock brokerage accounts, credit card accounts, mortgages, car loans, and student loan accounts. The system will even estimate the value of your real estate holdings.

mint home screenshot

With all of this information in one place, you can see a virtual real-time update of your net worth – a feature that’s even more fun when you’re paying off debt and saving up money.

2. Creating a Budget and Tracking Trends

Mint’s new budgeting tool lets you set up monthly budget categories with amounts attached to each of them. When the system recognizes a transaction that falls within that budget category, it will automatically assign it to that category. This is especially useful if you stick to a strict budget in areas like food and entertainment. You can even choose to get alert (via email or your mobile phone) when you’re exceeding your budget.

mint create a budget

Once you have your monthly budget information set up, you can use Mint’s colorful charts to get a graphical look at your spending. Further, you can compare your own saving and spending habits to trends that other Mint users are setting. Using this data, you might realize that you’ve set an unrealistically low food budget for your neighborhood, or that you’re overspending on your gym and fitness costs. So far, my family and I are generally spending less than nearby families here in Florida, but that will surely change as our family grows.

mint budget categories pie chart

3. Setting Goals

Choose from Mint’s common choices for goals or customize your own in a new feature that lets you set long term financial goals and track your progress. My personal favorite is the “getting out of debt” option, but you can find many others as well like buying a car or saving up for a summer vacation.

One selection everyone needs to try is the savings goal. It offers specific ways to cut back in certain areas to save more. Whatever your financial goals, Mint allows you to easily track them.

mint goals

4. Ways to Save continues to maintain the insightful “Ways to Save” tab, which analyzes specific items in your budget and compares the prices and interest rates to those of Mint’s partner sites. If one of those companies can save you money, Mint will recommend their service to you.

For example, if you’re paying an overwhelming interest rate on one of the worst credit cards, Mint will search other cards you qualify for and recommend one that can beat the APR on your current card. This is especially useful for 0% APR balance transfer credit cards.

mint ways to save

Also, I learned that if I switch to the package that Verizon has for my Internet, cable TV, and cell phone, I could spend $530 less per year than I spend with Comcast and T-Mobile separately. The only problem is that Verizon doesn’t offer cable service where I live. Also keep in mind that you’ll only see companies that have signed on to partner with Mint (i.e. this is how Mint makes money with the free service).


  1. Customizable experience. Mint lets you break down your spending habits as much as you want. If you love numbers, Mint is for you.
  2. Free. You’ll get the tracking features and analysis that other sites and experts charge for, but you won’t spend a dime.
  3. Mobile applications. Mint’s mobile applications (available for the iPhone and Android) will alert you when you’re about to overdraft on one of your accounts or when you exceed one of your budget categories.
  4. Great interface. Mint is specifically designed to help you win with money. The interface, charts, and overall visual appeal is highly motivating when it comes to cutting debt and boosting savings.


  1. Customer service. If you’re facing trouble online, it’s tough to get a hold of a real person. Mint has worked on improving their visibility, especially after Intuit bought the site, but they really need customer service staff specifically for the service.
  2. Security. Many people worry that having so many accounts synced with Mint means a hacker could easily get access to all of them by breaking into Mint. The company may have robust security measures in place, but this is always going to be an area of concern for new users on the lookout for scams.
  3. Automation. Mint isn’t always accurate when categorizing transactions. It’s tough to keep up with the system and correct everything, especially if you’re looking to automate the process.
  4. Advertising and promotion. Mint heavily promotes credit cards throughout the site, so it’s likely that they make a lot of their revenue from credit card sponsorships. Mint does a great job at pointing out when you’re paying too much interest, but be careful about opening new accounts unless you know how to use credit cards and rewards wisely and responsibly.

Final Word

To be honest, I started out using Mint all the time when it first came out, but then didn’t keep up with it. Now I’m back in the swing of things and am using it all the time again. I love the iPhone app, and I love that it keeps track of entertainment, food, and gas/household budget categories in real time. The goals feature is also great because I enjoy tracking my progress and getting milestone alerts to keep me motivated.

Personally, I don’t worry too much about the security concerns. Intuit, the established company behind Mint, knows how important security is, and dedicates a lot of financial resources to keeping the site safe and secure. Overall, Mint is a great online budgeting tool and I highly recommend that you try it out.

Have you signed up a for a free account on yet? What’s your take on the features and the budgeting experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • Eric

    I would like to add that my only complaint is there is no way to integrate investments or retirement accounts to the application. I think that would be a cool feature to look in to, as maybe a new tab of some sort.

    • sabre_springs_mark

      Not true. It depends on your financial institution. I can see my financial accounts, Stocks, and 401K info from Vanguard just fine. My JP Morgan 401K plan is blocked by JP Morgan so the account can not be seen by mint. When I eventually leave my current company the 401 will of course roll over to Vanguard, because I want to be able to see my money. JP Morgan’s loss.

      Also of the 6 banks and Credit Unions we deal with, only one can not be accessed via Mint – I consider that a legacy account since we set it up pre-mint. We are moving business away from that Credit Union pretty fast.

  • jeff

    mint worked great when i had netbank… now that ING Direct bought out netbank it doesn’t work at all.

  • Jacquelyn Hart-McCoy

    Thanks for the review, I was interested in trying it out.

  • author

    Eric, I agree. I think they will eventually come to that point. However, the main focus on the application is to help you control spending, not give you a comprehensive snapshot of your overall net worth. Quicken and MSN Money are better suited for that.

  • angelwins

    Does anyone know how to leave Mint? It is just not a service I want, but there is no way, it seems, to quit the service. Do any of you know how to do it?

  • Roger

    I have been using for sometime now and although it works ok, I never feel like I truly have a good picture. I mean it is pretty simple, track what you spend versus what you make, but it seems so hard on to do just that. I am a developer and I am considering writing an add-in to excel to enable you to bring in your transactions into excel so you dont have to manually type them, then use the power of excel for everything else. I am trying to see if there is enough interest for me to embark on this. Would you guys find this more useful that using or any other tool?

    email me at: rogsmith [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Mark Call

    I used MInt flawlessly for 18 months, I couldn’t speak more highly of them to everyone. They got our spending under control. Then sometime after Intuit bought them, the problems began. Constant broken links (many unfixable by me) on accounts working for months for no apparent reason. Maybe they grew too fast. I guess it’s not easy to do. This morning they made a change to clear out inactive accounts, along with two of my working accounts. Mint went from almost no work on my part to almost daily maintenance.

  • Kira Botkin

    I LOVE the pay off debt estimator. It actually figures out how long it’ll take to pay off your debt using your interest rates, minimum payments, and snowballing. It’s very accurate and while the time that it has calculated that I’ll be debt free is depressingly far off, it does move the date when I make extra payments.

  • Eve

    Hello,i am Mrs Evelyn James from Texa USA,i was so much in need of a loan i posted a question on how i need a loan someone advised me to contact MUSA MICRO FINANCE,i was scared at first but i decided to give them a trY to my greatest surprise my loan was approved and granted without any form of credit check,no collateral,no cosigner and with just 5% interest rate so i will advise everyone out there that is in need of a loan to contact them via email at. ([email protected])

  • Amali Heshan

    I feel like Credit Sesame helps me more with long-term finances because it helps me improve my credit score, whereas Mint helps me more with day-to-day/short-term finances.

  • calling all toasters

    It would be better if it worked, but it doesn’t.