If you’re planning to overhaul your budgeting spreadsheet and look for an automated system or realized that you need to take your money more seriously, then you have come to the right place to learn to budget. 

Most people do not budget and the ones who do can’t keep track may find their bank balance to be near zero. 

You can’t budget this way because you can run out of money before you could pay for “fixed expenses”. Not only can you not afford it, but you probably got anxious about having enough to cover your basic expenses. If that’s the case, how can you possibly survive?

Budgeting takes work, but it doesn’t have to mean self-deprivation. When you find the best cash flow for you, you’ll feel less cash-strapped and more likely to stick to an spending plan. 

And you might have heard of the big secret of starting the journey to financial freedom, which is not a secret anymore: SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE.

A financial budget app like MINT from Intuit makes “Spend less than you make” easy for you and regulate your cash flow for a month. Mint is a powerful, simple, interactive free budgeting alternative in the market built to give you an overview of your finances, investments, loans, or other financial product by safely linking your bank account.  

When the account gets linked, head over to budgets, and Mint will provide you a bird-eye view of what your present spending looks like in budget form. That is simple to understand and automated to get you in a habit of budgeting. 

Let’s learn in this guide everything about Mint and how it will help you make more financially smart by controlling your cash flow.

How did Mint begin?

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If you’d like to know about start-ups that got “overnight success”, then Mint would top that list. Mint gets off after Winning TechCrush40 Top company Award and got funded $50,000 as a part of the award. That gives an excellent start to this finance start-up and helped establish its credibility and incredible success.

Mint was officially founded in September 2007 and in November 2009 it was bought by Intuit, the maker of TurboTax and Quickbooks. Four years later, in 2013, Mint had over 10 million users and slowing adding up the numbers and now has over 15 Million+ users worldwide.

Mint’s name comes from Money INTelligence. Mint founder, Aaron Patzer, says “The idea behind is to make it dead simple to get your finances in order and to feel in control of your life”

Every big brand starts with a small idea. When Aaron Patzer created a free money management app the inspiration was small he needed to handle his budget for his one start-up which he could not because there was no service of this kind.

So he decided to create it himself. But before creating this app, he asked everyone if they would like to use this form of service or not. He took the philosophy that it is better to first validate your idea instead of creating a product and then request feedback. After compiling the mixed feedback he created Mint that addresses each individual’s needs.

User data safety of user data was one of the biggest concerns but they were successful to do that after a long tussle, and rest assured all their users of its advantages. 

There is a full-page devoted to security measures on the Mint website. It encouraged users to have faith in the app. It was important to show users that the app provides “bank-level data protection” that was imperative for the company’s success. 

Two years later, in 2009, Mint got his biggest hit when it was acquired for $170M by Intuit, but before that Mint already had a Million subscribers. 

Mint has proven that if the product is simple and you care about the user’s opinion and provide value customers will stand by your side. This was the beginning of Mint to the path of success and since then they didn’t look back.  

How does Mint work?

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To get started with Mint, you have to sign up and connect your primary account to your Mint account. The Mint account can connect to almost any US financial institution and can help users to create and manage budgets within their dashboard. 

When you connect your bank accounts, the app will extract all the transactions and data history you made in the last months. At first, this process takes a few minutes, but updates for the future will take place automatically.

The Mint dashboard is broken down by overview, transactions, bills, budgets, goals, trends (reports), investments, and Ways to Save tab. From there you can view all the account balances, next bills, activity warnings, bill alerts, budget details, financing objectives, credit score, and more.

They designed the different tab of Mint dashboard to give users a bird’s-eye view of all their spending and account summary and look at their spending trends and net worth. With the budget tab, you can set spending limits for certain transaction categories, Mint will send you an alert when you get close or are over your limit. 

This is helpful when you’re attached to your phone 24/7 these alerts can help you from making these big overspending mistakes- an eye-opener for those who lack discipline. 

To promote saving and encourage better personal finance, Mint recommends a variety of credit card deals, insurance, investment options, and other financial instruments reading the user transaction history and spending trends. 

Mint also supports its users in managing their 401(k) or IRA and even proposes brokerages.

Overall, Mint reports and free budgeting tools are helpful if you’re just starting out with budgeting. If you’re in need of an automatic system that tracks and categorizes your spending at every stage so you can figure out where you’re at with that breakdown.

Once you have all these numbers, then you can move that knowledge into creating a more sustainable budgeting system that will work for you. 

What does Mint do for you?

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Mint.com is a full package of budgeting features and helps you make a wise decision with your money. What is it capable of doing?

1. Fetch all accounts transactions in one place

Mint gives you the flexibility to fetch and sync all your financial accounts in one place to monitor their performance and transaction history without logging into individual accounts. 

Mint has connections with almost every bank and with multiple safety measures like secure encryption and multi-factor authentication, Mint assures you to keep your information protected. Once you have set up all your bank accounts, credit cards, at least the one you want to keep a watch. 

Then, Mint will provide you a detailed overview of your finances and will offer a proposed budget. That will help you manage your money and protect your credit when money is tight. 

2. Track all your pending bills

The tracking bill feature in the Mint allows you to monitor all the pending bills you have for the month or year and label them as “fixed expenses” in the category to let you see how much percentage you allocate to fixed expenses. Users can also set an array of reminders to get them notified before the date when bills are to be paid. 

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Mint also gives you warnings when your account balance goes too low to pay the bills. However, paying bills from Mint is no longer a feature. But this way Mint keeps the user informed so they incur no loss of money in paying for late bills.

3. Track your investment

With market volatility, it is essential to stay on the top of your finances for short-term and long-term investments. Mint’s simplistic graphical investment reports are comprehensive and will help you keep in touch with your investment portfolio. 

Once you add all your investment accounts, you will see performance reports, valuation reports, asset allocation, market indices, comparisons, and more. Plus all your investment transactions being classified as buys. sells, dividends, interest, and fees, so you can make better decisions about whether to pull out money in the volatile markets or not.

4. Help make budgets

Each category can have its own budget and you can budget for as many of the categories. Mint will automatically propose budget amounts for you based on the analysis done on your expenditure history in each category. 

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Here, you have the liberty to adjust amounts or make your own budgets and set it to every week, every month, or every couple of months. If you select monthly budgets, you can check a box to have any unspent or overspent funds for the month rolling into the next month which can benefit when dealing with variable expenditures. 

Regardless of your financial goal, a Mint free budget planner can set it for you. 

5. Help you make goals

In the Goal tab, you can input all your hopes and dreams and mint will auto calculate how long it will take you to reach them given the amount that you agree to deposit each month. What’s even possible is mint also helps you with pricing things out. 

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For example, when you select buying a home you can input all the things that matter like the down payment that you’d like to have, what you think the interest might be, the insurance, and the property tax then it will give you a general idea of where you should be at. 

This is super helpful if you are using this properly. This feature lets you know whether or not you’re actually on track to reach what you need to in the time that you’ve allotted for it?

6. Help you find trends

Mint’s trends feature helps you identify trends based on your financial analysis. Trends consist of pie charts, bar graphs to track your expenditure, income, net income, assets, and debt over set periods. These categories could be divided into subcategories, for example, spending at specific merchants or in particular categories. 

Trends display the actual value of how your expenditure, revenue, and assets are changing over time and thus highlight habits or flaws that could negatively affect your financial health. It is a brilliant way to note the troubling financial problems before they have a serious impact on your financial situation.

7. Categorize your expenses

Categorization makes everything simple and visible. Mint app automatically assigns budget expense categories to transactions as they arrive. The automatic categorization in Mint is mostly accurate, but if you want to rename or re-categorize transactions, you can easily edit them. 

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It is also simple to split a transaction between categories. For more accurate financial reports or budgets, optional tags may be added to transactions. 

8. Will teach you financial planning with their helpful blogs

Money-linked blogs from Mint-life gives clarity about personal finance and money management that is essential not for the one who uses their platform, but for general awareness. Their blogs have a dedicated following that navigates readers through active learning to get better at saving and budgeting as they use more of it.  

The key takeovers from this are to put out content regularly and nurture your users with interesting knowledge to enhance their lifestyle. It is a simple, but very efficient method. That results in bringing more downloads or sign-ups for business.

9. Recommend insurance products

Life throws curveballs to us. While we can not normally prevent the unexpected occurring, we can prepare a backup plan. At least financially, if uncertain things occur, insurance is intended to protect us. 

Mint insures you by recommending various most-important insurance products. That may be health, medical, car, homeowners/renters, disability insurance according to your specific needs, and considering your liabilities. 

These insurance types provide huge financial relief for very realistic scenarios at a minimal amount of money paid each month. You can track all your insurance products from Mint and can set bill alerts.  

Is Mint Free? How do they make money?

Mint.com answers this on their website FAQ page:

We make money when you save money with the Ways To Save feature on Mint.com. If you sign up for a checking, savings, credit card, or brokerage account marked as sponsored, we earn a referral fee.

Mainly, Mint earns its revenue primarily through four streams: 

1. Ads

Mint monetizes its free product through running ads on several sections of its website and apps to generate ad revenues. 

By running Ads campaigns, other companies pay Mint to buy ads space on Mint’s platforms to run targeted and relevant ads to the user, after finding their prior search history.

2. Premium accounts offering credit report monitoring

A subscription-based credit report monitoring system is another revenue generator for Mint. Mint users can choose a free credit monitoring method that enables them to have access to free credit scores at all times. 

This monthly subscription will provide users with multiple credit reports, three-bureau credit monitoring, and identity frauds, however, the user can upgrade to a premium service called “Mint Credit Monitor” that costs $16.99/month.

3. User data selling

Mint generates income also by selling and distributing their real-time consumer data keeping in mind consumer trends. Through aggregation and distribution of data, the company monetizes its platform. 

This aggregated data is collected by combining all user transactions while hiding user personal information. This removes all individual information and protects user confidentiality and a pool of data only left behind. They then sell the collected pool of data that summarizes the average spending, saving habits of an individual.

4. Referrals

Mint generates revenues based upon referrals made to banks, products, or credit cards. Mint offers financial opportunities that can benefit consumers through its “Ways to Save” Service. 

The referred company shall reward Mint with a referral fee if the consumer buys from the Mint’s advice. This model works on an affiliate commission. 

Is Mint safe to use?

Mint was created with keeping your financial prosperity in mind. As such, mint does not take your security lightly and offers several security features equivalent to what your bank offers already.

It’s as secure as a service that your financial info could be, even though your worry is still justified. Let’s see how Mint protects you from theft and hackers:

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1. Financial institution-level security measures including 128- bit SSL

You ought to know several things about Mint’s security that will give you peace of mind. First, the mint uses bank-level encryption and security measures. 

This means your connection is secure with a 128-bit SSL encryption impenetrable from malicious attacks for all practical usage.

2. 256-bit encryption and VeriSign

Your data is even safer within Mint, as they use one of 256-bit encryption that is the highest encryption level, to hide and secure your data completely from prying human eyes. 

Furthermore, Mint provides monitoring through third-party sites like TRUSTe and VeriSign to provide security scanning on its systems to ensure security for sensitive data transfer.

3. MFA, security questions, password, touch ID

Even in a case when a mobile phone of the user is stolen there are several solutions to avoid the risk of exposure and security breach. As you might think your Mint account is still activated and now, there is no way. 

But Mint uses a four-digit passcode/ touch ID to enable additional security through “Settings” on the app with MFA (multi-factor authentication). Because all your data is online on Mint, in the event of a robbed phone, the user can anytime disable, or delete the account using the other device.

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4. Hires ethical hackers to test security

Mint.com also hires “white knights,” i.e., good hackers, every quarter to try to breach through their system and so far according to Mr. Patzer, “nobody was able to enter the core of our system, where any sensitive financial information is stored.” 

Their security level is in line with the standard of a financial institution, however, what makes them trust the site is the fact that it is owned by Intuit, the same company that produces financial software essentials  Quickbooks and TurboTax and has an Intuit reputation behind it.

5. In the rare case, if Mint gets hacked, a hacker can only fetch existing transactions, not perform transfers

Mint is a read-only service, which means that you can’t transfer money between accounts or make payments. All you can do is view your balances and transactions, in case someone had a chance to take their hands on your Mint login. Mint does not display your full account numbers, or credit card usernames and passwords; your email address would be the only thing visible.

If a hacker wanted to take it a step further, they will hack your email to find out the secure servers of Mint and physically steal information bypassing security measures and cracking code on how the data is encrypted–but it’s a long shot, and however, so far, there’s no record of it being attempted. 

Mint.com Alternatives

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While Mint concentrates heavily on helping you keep track of your current spending, however, the alternative of Mint – YNAB (YouNeedABudget.com) schedules your spending ahead of time. 

You will not get a solid finance application like YNAB that’s the reason it is in our best-recommended budgeting apps, here instead of only monitoring where your money has already gone, you will be able to feel more control over your money you are going to spend.

This is an excellent app for those involved in zero budgeting in particular. 

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YNAB is far more in-depth and realistic when helping you use money as a tool. YNAB is not just a tracker for money. But it also pairs you with an accounting partner so you can see how your goals progress in the app.

On the other hand, Mint allows only to set goals in its web-based portion of its service, but in the app, you can not track them. 

The biggest benefit of using Mint is it’s FREE and YNAB is a paid service, though you can get a free trial for 34 days. Then you’ll pay $6.99 a month to continue using the app after your trial period has ended. Let’s compare both of them neck to neck.

Mint vs. Ynab

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Although Mint and YNAB share a ton of similarities, the two companies are distinct in many ways.

YNAB is actually a combination of zero-based budgeting which was popularized by Dave Ramsey and involves budgeting every dollar and paycheck budgeting which is a method of mapping out your expenses based on every paycheck that comes in. 

As a Mint user, you always need to spend time at the beginning of the month while setting up your budget with amounts for every single category and these amounts remain the same for every single month. Then you track your actual purchases against your budgets by grouping your actual spending into budget categories to get an idea of where the money is going.

But the slate wipes clean every month if you are a little over on a couple of things. 

This is no big deal with YNAB here you don’t forecast your income at all and you only budget money that you actually have in your account so there is much less forecasting and much more reality-based planning. 

In addition, YNAB forces you to engage more with your budgeting notifications alerts and actual budget views plus YNAB helps you accumulate money in your budget categories for feature purchases whether they are quarterly insurance payments saving for a new car or saving for your kid’s college. 

Final Words: Mint Automates Your Finances, YNAB Gets Hands-On With Your Money

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Mint is best for people looking to automate their finances. It is difficult to calculate every penny when you are too busy, and an alert will make you aware when your fast food budget is exceeding. It is perfect for people who want to learn how to keep an eye on their savings or how easily they pay off their debts without having a calculator out every time.

YNAB is best for people that carefully and deliberately budget. YNAB isn’t very forgiving if you miss paying attention because here you have to manually import transactions. For people with very strict budgeting habits, this app will help them to count every dollar.

Regardless of which one you pick, these both are very effective budgeting financial apps. They are just made for very different people. 

Think of Mint as a personal financial consultant. You have to give Mint all the information you need and then it will advise you on specific approaches to boost your finances and will warn you when an issue occurs. 

YNAB is like a notebook and a pen. Here all the responsibility of budgeting is on you, but you can get better with your finances overtime with using this app if you use it diligently. 

Both apps fulfill their goals to make its user better at budgeting and managing money, decide which one would you like to go with considering your requirements and budgeting experience. 


Siddharth Rajsekar aka Sidz is a college drop-out, "musician turned digital geek", a spiritually grounded minimalist, father of 2, and husband of a loving wife. He founded the Internet Lifestyle Hub in 2018 to fix the education and employment system for good. Currently, he is helping over 11,000+ coaches, teachers, and experts digitize their knowledge. He’s an international best-selling author of the book You Can Coach and is on a mission to help 1,000,000 people live a lifestyle of freedom!

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