That article is simply perfect. I read it and immediately reached out to Andy to ask him if I could link it in this article. Which he graciously agreed to.
So, please make time in your day to check out his article on creating a budget in Mint.
If you have read my blog, you will know I certainly am no financial expert. I am just starting on this journey and have a whole helluva lot to learn.
But, what I do know is people. Especially, my people. By my people, I mean people from the Midwest.
People who grow up in those flyover states surrounded by corn, beans, and cows. People that did not grow up with sound financial advice. People that are slaving away to debt. People that have not heard of the term “Financial Independence,” let alone think it is achievable. We aren’t exactly perceived positively for our financial savviness.
However, one of the goals of this blog is to hopefully educate and change that perception.
One of the ways that I hope to do that is by educating readers of this site into taking control of their personal finances. To do that, one has to look at their finances, both good and bad, and become aware of the financial situation they are in. There are many personal finance apps out there to utilize. Personally, I believe all of them are good and if someone is looking to take the steps to fully viewing their finances, then I will not discourage them by saying one app is better than the other. Hell, I don’t care if they write it down on pen and paper, as long as they are taking those proper steps.
But, in this post, I am discussing Mint: Personal Finance. It is what I have historically used and what I know best. If you are reading this blog, then you probably already know what Mint is. If not, here is the handy and easy-to-read intro that they graciously placed upon their home page.
However, as useful as that intro is, it not really what I will be discussing. I actually am not even going to be discussing “how” to use Mint at all, but the more so the “why.”
Am I certified or endorsed by Mint?
No, I am not.
But, I do believe that Mint is one of the easiest personal finance tools out there for people just starting on their path to financial control.
I 100% believe that the biggest obstacle to using Mint or any other personal finance tool is actually getting people motivated to utilize it. Which, like any other personal finance blogger will tell you, the biggest obstacle anyone needs to hurdle while in the process of taking control of their finances (or any major obstacle) – themselves.
Me, myself, and I.
I have had an account with Mint since March 2014. I have been using Mint since August 2015.
You are probably asking yourself, “What the hell does that mean and why do I care?”
Let me clarify: When I opened my account in March of 2014, entered my sole Capital One Quicksilver card that I maxed out and paid the minimum payments on. I entered my sole bank checking out that leaked money like a room full of henchmen leak blood after The Punisher gets done with them. My retirement accounts were as barren as the planet of Tatooine. I refused to enter any of my debts because I did not want to see them.
I was ashamed. I wouldn’t admit then, but I will now.
My Mint account was absolutely and positively terrifying to look at. I am surprised I did not have an Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark face-melting moment.
Is that Mint’s fault? Nope. That is one person’s burdens to bear- your lovely author, The Independent Hoosier.
Although, in March of 2014 the only thing I was independent of was common freaking sense.
My Mint account sat unused, maybe checked every month or so when I needed a good scare (didn’t help).
However, in August of 2015, when my eyes began to open to the world of actually being in control of my finances, I sucked it up, got a better job, and began to use Mint the way it should be used: Efficiently, effectively, accurately, and easily monitoring my checking/savings accounts, credit card accounts, and retirement accounts.
Was I still scared of looking at it? You bet your ass I was.
But now, three years later, I am in a totally different position than I was oh so long ago in 2014. I took the red pill, woke up, and started mowing through my financial obstacles like Bruce Lee in Game of Death.
I have many people to thank, but I have to thank Mint for allowing me to keep an easy and accurate representation o my financial life blood.
So, what do my financial screw-ups have to do with writing a “why” guide to Mint?
Simple – just like I was, people are scared to see their finances. They will not use Mint or any other financial tool until they overcome that fear, tackle it head-on, suck it up and decide they don’t want to be a slave to their debt anymore.
However, what Mint can do, is to be there at the beginning of the journey. Just like when I started, they were there. Is Mint a perfect application? Nope. But, there are only a few truly perfect things in this life (read: Terminator 2). Regardless, I chose Mint. I do not remember why or how, but obviously they did something right.
What Mint can do is to continue to make it easy and simple for users to view and monitor their finances. The last thing that someone needs when they start on that path to financial freedom is a complicated interface. They do not need overly fancy views or graphics or pop-ups. They need quick and easy-to-read financial numbers.
Most of all they need to be able to see their progress. That is what worked for me. Once I saw my bank account numbers go up (and stay up) and my debt go down (and stay down) it was more motivating every time I checked my Mint account.
When I discuss Mint with some people, they always ask the same question: “Is it secure?” Most people assume that anything that involves your bank accounts online is instantly opening up your account for a security breach and your identity to be stolen and sold around the world. Which, is true…somewhat. However, if anyone banks online, has a social media account, or ever enters any of their information anywhere online is always taking that risk. However, that cannot stop you from using these applications. It is like saying that you won’t drive on any road anymore because you are afraid of being in an auto accident.
Fortunately, Mint writes their security policy in easily understandable terms. Plus, they use multi-factor authentication, which is always a plus (it’s in the security policy, read it).
A month or so ago, at my workplace, we began discussing why I use Mint and how to utilize it effectively. I even started drawing diagrams on our white board (it was a slow day). Two of my co-workers actually went home, downloaded Mint, and started using it that night (they still currently use it).
I was beaming with joy. Not because anything I did or said, but two of my co-workers were taking those beginner steps to taking control of their finances. Because no matter what, at the end of they day, it’s about people taking control of their life.
What is the reason they continue to use Mint?
“It is simple and easy to use.”
There you go, Mint. Keep it simple and keep it easy and you’ll continue to gain new users…at least if they come from me.
*As for other personal finance apps, I think they are great tools, too. Nothing against them, I just have not used them so I do not feel comfortable writing or comparing them to Mint.*
Do you use Mint? If so, why? If not, why not?