As one of over seven and a half million users of Mint.com, I was excited when their incredibly popular iOS app, appropriately called Mint, appeared on the list of this year’s Appy Awards entries. It felt like seeing an old friend, both because I also use it daily, and because its previous version already earned the finalist distinction in the 2011 Appys. Having followed their progress over the years, it’s great to see that they’ve never stopped improving and growing.
Whatever level of discipline you have with personal finance, every penny still counts, and Mint’s app does an amazing job helping you keep track of yours. Over the years, we’ve seen countless online services that promised to simplify the daunting task of keeping track of your money, and most have failed to deliver anything close to ideal. Then Mint rose up to the challenge and made what used to be a dreaded chore ridiculously simple and even fun. From daily account balances and transactions, to the performance of your IRA, it syncs with nearly all US online financial institutions, frequently adding support for new ones. But like a trusted family accountant, it goes beyond simply tracking your balances. It constantly analyses the bank’s fine-print terms and interest fees for all of your connected accounts, and unobtrusively suggests better alternatives, backing its suggestions by instant calculations of how much you would save in the long run by switching from the accounts you currently have.
True to the popular convention that mobile devices are best used for consuming content, and full featured PCs – for creating it, the Mint app for iPhone is more of a companion to the Mint.com website than a complete stand-alone money management tool. For starters, you need to create an account on Mint.com to be able to use the app in the first place. As another example, the app offers a simple visual way to stay within your budgets with color-coded progress bars, but you have to set those up on Mint.com website first. One feature I’d love to see ported from the website over to the app is the insanely simple tool is has for tracking your earning and spending trends. While the app does have a simplified version of this feature which keeps tabs on your bottom line since the beginning of each month, I find the omission of the website’s more sophisticated analysis tool from the mobile app unfortunate.
Those who are still weary (and rightfully so) of trusting just any old website with logins and passwords to their entire digital life can rest easy. The Mint app uses the same 128-bit encryption that most banks use, keeping your data as safe as it can get. And on your end the app is locked with a unique 4-digit PIN that you can set so that no one can get access to your information should your device get lost or stolen. Best of all, the app is completely free and has no ads of any kind, so there’s no excuse for letting your debt control your life any longer!