Part I – working with Mint
I’ve been writing about debt, debt relief and personal finance for more than four years. During that time, I must have mentioned Mint at least 20 times. I usually described it as one of the best and most popular tools for budgeting and managing personal finances. The one thing I had never done was to utilize it myself.
I decided that this needed to change. So my goal yesterday was to sign up for Mint so I could have all my financial information in one place and begin budgeting and.
Getting started with mint was relatively simple. I typed in my email address and created a password. Hint: Mint seems to know about passwords you’ve used in the past so you can save yourself some time by creating a brand new one from scratch.
Mint is a service of the company Intuit. After I had entered the required information and pressed Continue, the Program told me I already had an account. It turned out this was due to the fact I use TurboTax, which is also an Intuit product. Five minutes later I managed to retrieve my login information for TurboTax, entered it and was able to access Mint.
That’s when the real frustration began.
I entered the value of my house and automobile but when I tried to enter information about my accounts, I was stymied. My bank is UMB bank Colorado and the only account Mint was able to find was titled UMB Online Direct. I chose this account but was unable to access it so chose it several more times – all unsuccessfully.
I finally gave up and emailed Mint, asking how I could enter my information.
Note: I then tried to link Mint to my Chase Credit card account but even when I typed in the required information, Mint was unable to create a connection and suggested that I “try again later.” Update: Mint was able to link to my Chase Account this morning.
I played around with Mint long enough to see that it does have some very attractive features. For example, it will display your credit score and provides suggestions as to what might be less expensive checking accounts and better credit card accounts – given your financial situation,
I am now, of course, waiting for Mint to respond to my question so I will know whether or not I can actually enter information about my accounts and loan. Mint promises that it will respond to my question within 24 hours so I am hoping that I will be able to post in Part 2 that I am now up and running and a happy Mint user.
Part 2 – working with Mint
I received a response from Mint. In fact, it arrived about six hours after I had posed my question. According to the response the problem was mine because I had tried to link to my UMB Bank account too many times. The email provided instructions for undoing what I had done. As is often the case when dealing with a canned response the information provided on the email did not match what I saw on my screen. However, I was able to find some workarounds and id delete the accounts that I had been told to delete.
I added UMB again and made some progress. Mint was able to find my bank and I successfully entered my user ID and password. But then a new frustration. Mint wanted me to enter the answers to security questions related to my bank account that I had never created. For example, at one point I was required to enter the name of the maid of honor at my wedding. That was definitely not one of my security questions. I finally hit a question that was one of mine – the name of my first manager. I entered it but Mint still wouldn’t accept it. Eight or so security questions later I finally got one where my answer worked.
The program began retrieving my information but then “timed out” and said that it would keep trying to “add my account in the background.” I’m thinking that the reason it “timed out” might be due to he number of accounts I have at UMB, plus the homeowner equity line of credit. I have left Mint’s window open, hoping that it will eventually be able to retrieve my account information. If not, I guess it will be back to customer support.
Stay tuned and look for Using Mint to Manage Personal Finances, Part 3, which I hope I will be adding later today.
Part 3 – working with Mint
I signed back onto my Mint account a few minutes ago and it had retrieved my financial information. My HELOC was there with the correct balance and, of course, the balance I owed on my Chase Credit Card. Mint informed me that I had seven ” uncategorized” transactions, which turned out to be the checks I had written this month. I could have added descriptive information about each of these transactions but decided this was something I would tackle later.
Unfortunately, I may or may not still be missing information. It’s hard for me to tell because I am so new to the program. Mint did display a list of all my accounts but with no details such as my transactions or balances. Once Mint retrieves this information or I am able to do it myself, my next task will be to divide everything into categories so that I can begin budgeting.
As you have read, getting started with Mint can be a bit difficult. However, that’s understandable in the sense that it’s your money and Mint’s number one goal is to protect it. There are other programs and apps for managing personal finances or for budgeting that may be simpler to use. For example, if all you want to do is create a budget and get some help sticking to it you might like the apps You Need A Budget, Good Budget or Mvelopes. The last one, Mvelopes, is based on the old envelope method of budgeting. It will help you make a budget and then creates digital envelopes for each of your budget categories. If you exhaust all the money in one of your digital envelopes, that’s it. You can’t spend any more money in that category unless you shift funds into it from another envelope. In addition to apps for the iPhone and Android phones Mvelopes also has apps for the iPad and Android tablets where you get more detailed views of your spending and your budget.