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A review on the budgeting tool Mint.com and its respective iPhone app. Mint.com has recently is available to us Canadians- Y&T gives the pros and cons of Mint

[su_box title=”Update from the future” style=”soft” box_color=”#2b4727″ title_color=”#ffffff”]As of 2015 I have decided to cancel mint, and my blog post “why I decided to cancel mint.com” because one of the most popular articles about mint in the world! A lot of useful comments on that article as well. [/su_box]

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.

Article comments

Amy says:

I used it for a month or so, at first I thought it was wonderful but then started noticing that it double counts transactions…I would use my credit card to pay everything….then pay the credit card….so I would end up with extra money off my budget for credit card payments! I guess if you work with just a bank card and cash it would be great but I like my free credit card rewards 🙂 I also hated the fact that you can’t make up next month’s budget….so stupid. I gave up and I’m not looking into Quicken 🙂

young says:

@Amy- I know what you mean.. it’s annoying! I am too lazy to split my mortgage in mint and it tells me I am over all the time (I split it with my BF). Also, they count the fees that banks charge but they are reversed and somehow Mint doesn’t pink that up.

CityFlips says:

You can divide a transaction to different categories including “exclude from Mint.” Highlight your mortgage payment, click edit, look for a little button in the top right corner that says “split,” and I think you’ll figure it out from there. Basically you’ll type in the amount that you want to show up on your Mint, select the categoty, and hit split. Then type in the amount you want to ignore, select the ignore category and hit split again. A little extra work, but it should help you out!

young says:

@CityFlips- Cool- thanks! I’m going to do that right now so that it will be less confusing. Hopefully I don’t need to do that each time though.

Little House says:

I’m not surprised that Inuit bought them, they are the owners of Quickbooks (which I use.)

Thanks for sharing the screen shot of Mint.com. I really like how it charts everything for you and shows you your progress. I’ve been hesitant to sign up because of the security issue like you mentioned. I’m still on the fence on this one since I need to use Quickbooks as well – I might find I’m overdoing it by tracking my expense in Mint as well. 😉

young says:

@Little House- Yeah, maybe! But then again, us PF-er’s overdo it with a lot of things! (We get a bit obsessive about tracking our expenses and budgets lol).

Kiki says:

You make some good points, I like mint personally. Your cons are real but I’ve sent them suggestions and seen them change things but the one thing they can’t change is the scariness of all accounts being in one place.

Kim says:

I signed up for mint.com. But I gotta tell you, I felt SUPERWEIRD about giving out all of my financial info password to a US company. Then I saw an official notice from my bank which stated that they are not affiliates of mint.com and that me giving out my password is actually a breach of my account agreement. Then I prompty de-registered from there.

one MAJOR drawback for me was that they only recognized bank student loans and not government ones. I only have a government student loan and it’s my only source of debt, not having that on there inflated my networth and gave me a false sense of security.

Shane says:

I’ve been playing around with Mint for the last week or so. It sure does look slick but most of what I need to do can be done with an excel spreadsheet. I guess I’m little old fashioned but I find that to be quicker and easier for myself. I think a lot of people will really enjoy these tools though. Thanks for the post… specifically the ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’

young says:

@Shane- I would love to use excel if I knew how to use It efficiently. I would say that mint would be good for the lazy budgeters (like me!). I do like how it’s tells you to the last penny how much you have in your credit card.

Erin says:

I signed up for mind becuase the budgeting tools looked great and I liked having all of my accounts sitting right there in front of me but I budget on a bi-weekly basis based on my mortgage payments and when I get paid. I couldn’t find anywhere to change the budgets to bi-weekly and the monthly budget option doesn’t really work for me. 🙁

I’ve been pretty happy with Mint, but it’ll improve once all my accounts are working (like Questrade).

I interviewed Aaron Patzer about some of these same issues, I guess it’s always going to be a bit of a work in progress…


young says:

@Tom- yeah I agree- been pretty happy especially with the mint app on the iPhone. Almost have been obsessively checking it (guess that’s better than obsessively checking facebook!)

Geoff says:

Hi Y&T and readers,

Geoff here. I

young says:

@Geoff- cool nice to meet you! Thanks for joining the discussion and Thanks for clearing up the confusion- I’m very happy tO hear that questrade will be added to the list. What about student loans from the government?

Paige says:

I never liked the idea of having all my passwords in one account. This is why I never tried Mint. On the otherhand, I use gnuscash. It’s simple and straightforward. Free too!

MoneyCone says:

I love mint! When I transferred my accounts from fidelity, fidelity quietly removed a transfer with no notification.

Mint promptly sent an email alerting me to this!

young says:

@moneycone- yeah I like how they notify you about things. This way i can track any suspicious purchases 🙂

JT McGee says:

My credit union’s online banking doesn’t work with Mint, which is a bit of a pain.

The reason I signed up is because I wanted to keep all my records in one place…not being about to see my savings is a real downer…

Otherwise, really cool program. I like comparing what I spend at certain places to what the “Mint Average” is.

young says:

@jt McGee- yeah agree! Especially if one had a mortgge with their credit union that would be even more annoying.

Echo says:

I found the mislabelling really annoying since they would consider purchases made from Safeway or Superstore gas bars and liquor stores as groceries…even though I fixed it repeatedly.

I’m not as paranoid as others about their security.

I also used PageOnce as my mobile app and found the email notifications were ok, but a bit overwhelming.

Nothing beats my own spreadhseet, since everything is customizable to my own situation.

young says:

@echo- yeah agree about the mislabeling… Definitely something mint should work on. But it’s still nice that they ARE able to separate and label the purchases though.

schultzter says:

Another con is you’re sending all your data to the US – outside of Canadian jurisdiction and banking laws!

I’d also like to find a budgeting tool that helps me decide where my money is going to go rather than where it went!

young says:

@schultzer- yeah I find the ads to move your money to American institutions annoying- like use tradeking instead of questrade. Silliness!

SavingMentor says:

I haven’t given Mint a shot yet because I heard it was lacking some stuff, particularly Questrade.

I’m also a little nervous about the security of it all. I’m usually pretty free with my credit card numbers and signing up for accounts online, but it is still a step further than I’m comfortable with.

I probably will give it a shot at some point though. Thanks for weighing in on it and giving us your opinion.

young says:

@sm- exactly my sentiment at first. I think you just have to take the info with a grain of salt 🙂 no questrade in mint sucks though.

I use Mint and it’s working pretty well. I can see most of my accounts. I have joint investments too and it’s a bit of a pain to separate out. I made up a loan to pull out my partner’s share.
I also don’t like the “you’ve gone over budget on your utility” email. kind of annoying. 🙂

young says:

@retirebyforty- yeah that was the other thing- separating the joint accounts is annoying. Basically it says I’m always over my mortgage budget because boyfriend and I split it. But it’s not smart enough to know that :). Get with the program, mint!!!

young says:

@retirebyforty didn’t mean to remove your comluv! My fingers are too fat!

Money Pincher says:

I have signed up for it, but I haven’t added any of my accounts. I am still a bit afraid of putting so much secured information on the website. :/ I might try it later.. but I still couldn’t bring myself to add my accounts. I wish they have an option of letting me add the amounts manually though 🙁

LC says:

I have mixed feelings about Mint too. Mint obviously doesn’t have a relationship with who I invest with, and it won’t find my RBC Visa!? so it thinks my net worth is much different than what it really is… Otherwise, I think it’s budgeting tools are great. Hmm.

young says:

@blondeonabudget- I thought they couldn’t find my credit cards at first but they really do have them- you just have to find them under “Canada”.

I gave it a shot and walked away soon after. Most of my financial institutions are not supported, so it was basically pointless for me.

It looks pretty and seemed relatively easy to use so I can understand its popularity.

You also hit on a good point about it being “free” – nothing is truly free. 🙂

young says:

@jaymus- nothing in life is free 🙁 at least we don’t have to sacrifice our fingers for mint…or maybe that will be a condition in the future! 🙁