The word finances makes many newly-married couples cringe in fear. While everyone recommends budgeting, saving, watching credit scores, and tracking financial growth, these tasks bring with them extra time and energy demands that are often unrelenting. New and old families alike know they are supposed to do those things, but often do not know how to get started. And that is where the age of technology comes in! Over the past few months I have been using a very popular mobile app called Mint by Intuit to help me wrangle in those pesky tasks and hopefully plot a course of financial security. I will be going through some pros and cons of this service and hopefully allow those looking for a way to budget efficiently decide if this product is the right choice for them.
- The user base is huge! To be honest, the reason that I am reviewing Mint is that it was one of the first apps that showed up when I searched for budgeting tools on the iOS app store. The good news is when an app has a large active user base, the company that manages that platform is more likely to keep the app up-to-date and to respond to suggestions and emerging technologies. This puts users in a good spot since they know that they are syncing their personal financial information with a widely used and respected service and not some shady back-alley app.
- It is free! This has to be on this list. An app gets put in many people’s good graces, including mine, when it can be downloaded for free. And the free train doesn’t stop there; the service does not have any premium or “pro” features that require a subscription service, meaning it is a truly free app—not one of those sneaky mostly-free ones.
- Automated! Using technology is supposed to make life easier, right? Well in this case, the answer is yes! Once you sync your bank account to this secure application, Mint does the rest! It creates charts and tracks spending patterns automatically and religiously. Before using this app I did not know to the exact percentage point what I was spending on entertainment, but now I do. With the information that is ready at your fingertips immediately after signing up, it is simple to start making plans and adjusting habits to align better with your financial goals. My wife and I were able to see that we were doing super well on some categories (food, clothes, and movies) but could use some work on others (eating out).
- Ads. While the service is completely free, we do live in a world where money, unfortunately, does not grow on trees. As such, Intuit has decided to display banner style ads throughout the app and saturate the “Suggested Investment Products” feature of the app with its own systems. So while I revel in the app’s freeness, I do note that purchasing any other services strictly from the in-app recommendations without any third party advice is probably not the most recommended course of action.
- Automated. I know this appears on both lists, but for good reason. The automation does wonders on productivity, but I kept feeling like I was missing out on truly learning how to budget and plan the family’s finances. When the system was doing everything for me I realized that while I had great information now, I hadn’t learned anything. For those that want to learn budgeting, and not have it done for them, there may be better options explored in the future.
All in all Mint is a great product. It looks clean, it is easy to set up and use, and it has provided me with wonderful information that my wife and I have begun to use to our advantage. It truly is important for every family to budget and work toward financial security. With that being said, Mint just may be the right app for you to get on that road to financial success.
BY JOSHUA HANSEN