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Mint = Budgets + Goals

Minty Fresh!

So, you’ve no doubt by now read my short review of Mint.com, have uninstalled Quicken and have been categorizing and tracking all your finances for free.

And you say to yourself, “Golly gee, this is great…  but… I miss some Quicken functionality, like goals!  and budgets!

Sure enough, Mint has those too. You can find those features in the Budgets and Goals tabs.  “Mint calculates your average spending in any category, and can turn it into a budget with one click.  Compare your spending year-to-year or month-to-month…”  Each budget takes under 1 minute to create, which is great since I don’t have a lot of time to spend on this.

Now, Goals  should be self-explanatory — you may want to develop a plan for one of the following predefined scenarios:

  • Get out of Debt
  • Save for an Emergency
  • Save for Retirement
  • Buy a Home
  • Buy a Car
  • Save for College
  • Take a Trip
  • Improve my Home
  • and “Create a Custom Goal” if your goal doesn’t fall into one of the above items.

I clicked on “Get out of Debt” and it immediately showed me my two credit card balances, developed a plan on how much I need to pay off each and gave me a predicted end date of when I can reach that goal.  NIFTY!  After the goal was configured, I was given the option to “Make a payment plan” which had some basic information on the page, along with some suggested reading here on the Mintlife blog, and links to a few loan advertisements (for purposes of loan consolidation).  Don’t worry, it doesn’t create any automated payments from your bank accounts — that’s up to you to do.

Now, be forewarned.  You get what you pay for, and if you’re looking for advanced budgeting and planning features, this won’t make you happy.  I did some searching of the Mint Help feature for Budget FAQs, and found that people were posting some really good questions and suggestions, which reveal that for some, the Budget feature is only half-baked.  At this point, it’s too early for me to say whether Budgets and Goals will work for me, but I’ll try to post an update a few months from now.

I’m still really impressed with what you can get for free on the web.

There is more to read about Budgets and Goals at Mint.com.

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