Manage Your Finances With Mint

As a freelancer I’ve gotten into the habit of being very meticulous with my finances. Weekly, I go over my income, spending, and projected income and expenses for the following weeks. I like to paint a two week picture of what my bank accounts will look like.

While I use several tools for this, Mint is what I use for spending, previous data, and organization. If I ever need to check something while I’m out, well, luckily they have a freshly minted (teehee) Android App.

The Mint.com service and this app are only available in the US and Canada.

So what exactly is Mint? From their website:

Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place. Set a budget, track your goals and do more with your money, for free!

I primarily use the website, but let’s take a look at how the Android app stacks up.

Mint’s first screens

Once you log in, you’re taken to a very nice dashboard displaying your Accounts Total, Budget, Cash Flow, Alerts, Advice, and Investments. Tapping any of these sections will take you to a more detailed screen, which we’ll look at later.

Possibly the best part about the Mint Android app is how easy it is to add transactions. As you’ll likely want to do this right away while you’re out and using cash, Mint has made it incredibly simple to do — just press the “+” sign in the bottom right to go to the Add Transaction screen.

Add Transaction

Adding a transaction

Here you can add the amount, what kind of transation it is (income, expense, payment type, and so on), and a category, notes, and tags — Mint will even geotag it using your current location. A really nice touch is that you can split cash transations with your latest ATM withdrawal.

Viewing Accounts

Tapping the Accounts section from the home screen will take you to a list of all of your accounts, each of which you can then tap to view more details.

View Accounts

Viewing accounts

As you can see from the above screenshots, you’ll get a list of your transactions per account. Much like with adding a transaction, you have the ability to edit categories, notes, and tags by opening a specific transaction. My only complaint here is that I cannot add new tags while editing a transaction (or adding one, which is even more important).

The last thing I’d like to note about viewing transactions is that when you’re in the detailed view (which is the same screen you go to to edit a transation), you can easily traverse through transactions by using the left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen. This is much easier than having to bounce back and forth between detailed view and the master list.

Other Features

From the home screen, there are a few other ways to view your transactions organized in a different way. If you check out the Cash Flow or Investments sections, you’ll get two different views of transactions.

The Cash Flow and Investments sections

Under Cash Flow, you can organize transations by category and merchant, which is a nice way to see where you spend the most. Like the Accounts section you can also edit and view more details. The same goes with Investments: this section will give you a view of all the places you have investments and well as the ability to view and edit transactions. I really like that they separated the section out since the money here is not liquid — you can’t really spend it, so it’s sensible to have a separate section and total.

Budgets, Alerts, and Advice

Viewing and editing transactions aren’t the only things you can do in Mint. From the home screen, you can also view you budget totals, alerts, and advice. Alerts and advice are pretty straight forward and treated like an inbox.

Alerts and Advice

My only complaint here is that I cannot mark all alerts or advice as read, I actually have to open each one individually.

This is likely because Advice is advertising on Mint. I really shouldn’t complain as this is a clever, unintrusive, and sometimes helpful way to do ads.

Budgets are a nice way for you to manage your money, and the app’s Budget screen is really nice:

Budgets

It’s color coordinated to show you if you’re over, on, or under budget, and by how much. Pressing on one of the budgets will take you to a list of the transations for that budget. My biggest complaint with the app is related to this section, and it’s that you can’t adjust a budget. I can see it being the case where you notice the spending needs for a particular budget has changed and you’d like to adjust, but you’ll have to wait until you’re in front of a computer, unfortunately.

Settings and Widgets

The last set of features I’d like to talk about are the Settings and Widgets.

Settings and Widgets

These are pretty simple. The Settings area allows you to set a four-digit passcode, and you can grant both phone search and widget access to your data, as well as logout/wipe financial data.

The widget is a simple 4×1 box that displays your cash and credit balances. Personally I’d like to see a bit more customization here — maybe even the ability to pick an account to view, or a 4×3 box with separate account lists, as the current widget isn’t really reflective of my only spending money.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Mint for Android is a great app. There’s a lot of great information right at your fingertips, and since this is a relatively new app, I’m sure we’ll only see improvements moving forward.

While it could use the addition of some big missing features like adjusting budgets, I know a lot of time went into this — especially the design, which breaks from the sterotype that Android apps are not as well designed as some other mobile OS apps. This is a beautifully designed app that give you information as soon as you start the app up.


Summary

Mint pulls in all your personal finance accounts into one place, so you can manage your money from anywhere. Track your spending, create a budget, and save more.

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