If you haven’t been living under a rock, you might have heard of Mint.  Mint is this start up company founded in no other than San Francisco (where all the beautiful people and geniuses live) in 2007 and had been bought for $170 million by the huge conglomerate Intuit earlier this year.

Mint.com is a free budgeting tool that was initially untouchable by us Canadians because they didn’t have the Canadian banks in list of banking institutions you could add.  This has changed, and I have both the Mint.com log in (you can check your stuff easily online) and the mobile iPhone app (can quickly check transactions, budget etc.)

I’ve been using this Mint.com app and checking online (and receiving their many updates to my email) for about a month or two.  Being the opinionated person that I am, I would like to give my two cents on Mint.com based on my own experience with it.

Before Mint.com, I was using an app called PageOnce that I mentioned in my post on the 6 best free apps that will make your personal finance life better.  I liked Page Once but I was looking for something more comprehensive, something I could manage my budget with.

To find out whether you should stick with Mint or maybe try another popular budgeting app such as YNAB (You Need a Budget) click here to take our quiz and determine which one is right for you.

This is what the budgeting tool looks like (I found this on photobucket 🙂 )

mint.com bug Pictures, Images and Photos

Pros of Mint.com:

  • I like it’s ease of use.  Very. Easy. to Use. (If I can do it, you can!)
  • The website design is very pleasing to the eye.  Nice solid colours, soothing lines.. not too busy looking
  • It’s free and the app for your Smartphone is free too
  • I love how you can show all your saving accounts, chequing accounts, credit card balances, and investments all in one place (more about investments later- in the cons list)
  • There is a savings goal tool which encourages you to put your money in a separate account so you won’t be tempted to dip into your savings; this savings goal tool tells you if you are ahead or behind schedule of your goal.  This is probably one of my favourite features of the savings tool.  You can even select a picture to reflect your goal!
  • I really like their budgeting tool too- you can keep track of your expenses (and it will be put in automatically based on your labels), because they label everything for you (e.g. if you spent $50 on your cell phone bill, Mint.com automatically categorizes it in the phone bill category, so you can keep track to see if you over spent or not this month.
  • They notify you by email about big changes e.g. big purchases, so if something is fishy in any of your accounts- including credit card- you’ll know right away

Cons of Mint.com

  • Possible security breach– you have ALL OF YOUR FINANCIAL INFORMATION PASSWORDS in ONE ACCOUNT.  Can be kind of scary.  Mint.com maintains that their website is super secure and safe to use.  But the security measures they take to protect your information seems kind of ambiguous and vague.
  • They notify you if you are being charged a bank fee (but my bank fees are immediately credited back to my account), but Mint doesn’t know this and still sends you a notification
  • Their notifications can get a bit overwhelming and annoying, but thankfully you can change your notification setting
  • Because it’s free, they get paid from advertisers by asking you to sign up for this FREE banking account, or BETTER investment services than what you have now.  I think as long as you stay away from signing up, it’s a useful tool.
  • One major drawback is that they don’t have every financial institution listed– for some reason, they don’t have QUESTRADE (which is my favourite investment tool and where all my non-registered stocks are at), so I can’t keep track of how much money I have in those accounts.. which tends to negate the point of showing your net worth on one page.
  • Another drawback is that you can input the asset of house/home and car yourself.  You could make up an imaginary number to make yourself feel better and your net worth will appear very inflated with Mint.
  • One major issue is that they don’t recognize a “joint account”.  For example, in my joint account with my boyfriend, the mortgage comes out, but we both pay for half.  Mint recognizes it as a full amount and tells me that I am overpaying for my mortgage (which may be a good thing, but it isn’t the case for me).  So with Mint, you might be best to amalgamate everything with your partner if you want an accurate depiction of your money (which I don’t plan to do).
  • Another draw back is sometimes they mislabel things, and then it won’t reflect in your budgeting tool, but this can be easily fixed by relabeling it correctly to reflect  your budget labels.

So with all the pros and cons, it’s kind of a mixed bag.  I like the budgeting and goal tools, and I like how everything is updated very quickly.  The cons are easily worked around though, and I personally like using it.  It’s easier to keep track of things, though I wish they would have every financial institution (e.g. Questrade) on their pick list.

A tip if you are planning on signing up for Mint is to make sure you have the CANADIAN institutions, otherwise you’ll be like me and flabbergasted for one week wondering why your password for your credit card or savings account doesn’t work on Mint. So, for example, ING Direct is not just ING Direct, it should be ING Direct CANADA.

Canadian Finance Blog and Money Smarts Blog also give their two cents on Mint.com too, so be sure to check out what they have to say.

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