As I prepare to track my spending in 2017, I have to decide which tool to use.
In the olden days, there weren’t many options. Lately, however, there’s been a boom in personal-finance tools. Rather than try every available app, I elected to take a look at four that seemed like good fits for me: Quicken, You Need a Budget, Personal Capital, and Mint.
I had planned to review Mint and Personal Capital in separate posts, but as I began to pull things together I realized it made more sense to cover them at the same time. I think people are likely to use one or the other but not both. Let’s start with Mint.
Mint has been around for a long time. I remember getting calls from the company back in the early days of Get Rich Slowly. They wanted me to write about their service. And over time, many GRS readers became devoted Mint users. I was never one of them because I preferred to track my transactions by hand.
Nowadays Mint is owned by Intuit, the same company that owns Quicken. It’s been a while since I evaluated the tool, so earlier this month I decided to give it another shakedown. I discovered there’s plenty to like about Mint — but it’s not really meant for me.
To start, connecting with outside financial institutions is quick and easy. Of all the apps I’ve tried, Mint is quickest and most thorough about accessing my accounts. YNAB made me import accounts one at a time, for instance, and couldn’t read the names I’d assigned accounts at various banks. Mint, on the other hand, pulled all of my accounts from each business at the same time and included my existing labels. And whereas Personal Capital won’t connect with my credit union, Mint has no trouble.
Perhaps because it’s older, Mint has a robust feature set than the other tools I looked at. It not only tracks transactions, but also helps you set goals, build budgets, and stay on top of your bills. Here, for instance, is a notice that my Visa bill is due:
And here I’m setting saving goal for my upcoming Europe trip:
Plus, Mint offers a free credit score — something its competitors do not.
This credit score even breaks down ways for you to boost your credit. In my case, for instance, I just don’t have a lot of credit accounts. That prevents me from reaching the upper echelon of credit scores:
So, Mint offers some handy features. But it’s not all a bed of roses. [Read more…]