What Is It?
Got your eye on a plane ticket? With a bit of budgeting via Mint, you’ll be able to embark on your next adventure sooner than you think. The free app is a jack of all trades, letting users create budgets, monitor credit scores, and effortlessly track or pay bills.
Within moments of linking Mint to your bank account, the app will display helpful spending breakdowns and financial advice, setting you en route to a healthy budget. Mint makes managing money bearable—borderline enjoyable, even—by eliminating the inherently tedious aspects. Bid farewell to number crunching and drawers stuffed with receipts, and say hello to a transparent financial service…and perhaps even a new suitcase!
How Does It Work?
Mint compartmentalizes your expenses. In a pre-Mint world, this extra step would require some serious spare time or unattractively Type-A qualities. The breakdown is necessary—it gives you insight into heavy-spending categories in order to create a personalized spending plan. You define the categories so they can be as vague or narrow as you want.
In denial about your caffeine addiction? I sure am. Mint reminded me that my mocha fix comes at a price—a $37 per week, $148 per month expenditure. I could maybe justify that…but then I open Hitlist, and see that $148 could get me on a plane to Austin and back this weekend! With that fact in mind, I set my budget for coffee shops to only $50 a month, and Mint kindly reminds me when I’m approaching my limit.
Mint takes lessons from the Baby Boomers and adapts them to be Gen X, Y, Z, and Millennial-friendly. The onboarding process is shockingly simple—all you have to enter is your online banking username and password. Within half an hour of downloading Mint, I had a personalized, evergreen budget. Since Mint is linked to your accounts, the app is updated in real time and every transaction is categorized.
Younger users like to color outside the lines, and Mint takes that into consideration: the app has categories for Venmo and Cash exchanges, as well as areas to enter anticipated income. Once you tell Mint about your recurring expenses—rent, gas, insurance, etc.—the app shows your leftover cash, which you can divvy up however you chose. The app will also alert you about unusually high spending or large deposits, helping to fight identity fraud.
And your secrets are safe with Mint—set up a special passcode or use Touch ID for the app so only you can access the app, even if someone is borrowing your phone for a round of Heads Up. Upon logging in, the first screen gives a quick overview of your accounts: checking, credit card, savings and a travel account—I highly recommend making a separate savings account for something big you’re dreaming about, whether it’s a trip to Morocco or a new car. Toggling through Mint’s “Updates” and “Overview” tabs will provide you with infographics about your cash flow, spending breakdown, credit score, bills due, alerts and advice.
Our Favorite Part
Full disclosure: at the end the first month, I found myself avoiding logging into Mint to get the hard budgetary truth—ignorance is bliss when we’re talking about spending $128 on poke bowls in one month! But, like a loving parent, Mint knows where to find you when there’s truth to be delivered (answer: email).
In the end, I found Mint to be a loyal cheerleader with a thoroughly positive spin on budgeting. Rather than looking at my expenses from the “I can’t do that, I can’t buy that,” point of view, Mint helps me think “I could do this instead of that!” Packing my lunch so I have money for a Bonnaroo ticket seems like a fantastic idea…one I would’ve never had if it weren’t for Mint’s pretty pie charts and genius insights.
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