Money seems to disappear rather quickly for me, as it does for many college-aged people. Going out to dinner with friends, going to events, getting groceries, using your dining card, parking your car and even printing your assignments — it all costs money and adds up fast. Therefore, I decided to download Mint: Budget & Expense Tracker on my phone to see if it could improve my spending habits.
The app can be used to manage income, card balances, loans, investments, properties and more. Although I do not find Mint vital for everyone, I had a pleasant user experience and it efficiently organized my money.
The first thing you see when you open the app is the “Overview” page. I thought this section was very practical, especially when you want to have an overall look at how much money you have. At the very top, the app notes your net worth combining all the selected and linked bank accounts.
I loved this concept. I no longer had to tediously switch from a debit to credit card account and calculate the total amount of money in my head. It was all in one place and it made my life easier.
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Besides doing the math for you, they break down where each part of your net worth comes from, whether it’s cash, credit cards or investments. It’s so satisfying to see all of your money categorized, and you don’t even have to do the work.
Next to the “Net worth” section, they have a tab that follows the same format for spending. As you scroll down, you will bump into recent transactions that are automatically categorized. For example, when I purchased a vanilla iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, they categorized my transaction under “Coffee Shops.”
Sometimes in regular banking apps, all of your transactions are simply thrown at you, making it tricky to notice spending patterns. This app broke down my expenses in the most direct, simple way. I never felt overwhelmed when looking through the app, and it still kept me conscious about the areas in which I spent more money. It made me realize college has pushed me to spend a lot of money on coffee.
Mint successfully made me feel like I was playing a game when they gave me the challenge to not spend over a certain amount on food in a week. I won and the “reward” was the amount of money I saved, which was a beneficial way to frame spending. It creatively instilled a positive, fun mentality towards being money-conscious.
The “Overview” page is great if you want to get a swift grasp of your overall money, but the “Monthly” page provides a more in-depth analysis of your spending.
My favorite aspect was the customizable monthly budget. Based on the accounts linked to the app, it analyzes which areas you spend the most money and it helps you to create a solid game plan for your spending.
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The budget was easy to create and simple to track. The app displays a segmented bar graph to represent your overall budget and how much money you have left to spend. As a person who usually dislikes financial graphs, I found their visuals extremely easy to follow.
The app also analyzes the purchases that you actually enjoy. One of the coolest features of the “Monthly” tab was the joy badge.
The joy badge shows you different past purchases and gives you the option to tap on “lots of joy,” “regretted it” or “neither.” I thought this was creative and insightful. The feature reminded me which purchases were worth it and which ones were not, keeping me from making the same mistakes.
The visual format was simple, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t struggle to navigate the app. The tones of mint green combined with subtle pops of color were easy on the eyes without being over the top.
The only critique I have is that I did not find it to be life-changing for spending. Even if you type in your budget manually and are determined to save a certain amount of money, you will still get the same result unless you are completely dedicated to saving money.
However, for lazy people like me who hate any kind of math, I think this app does what it promises. I will definitely be keeping it on my phone.