financial planning apps Service and App Review

I long as I can remember I have always created my own budget spreadsheet. I experimented with Quicken for a short period of time, but found the features unimpressive and so I decided it wasn’t worth the money or time. Overtime I lost a comprehensive view of all of my accounts.

As I became older I started creating accounts for investments, mortgages, insurance, savings and checking. After a while I lost track of my finances, I had a feeling everything was going fine as I know I spend less than what I make, but I was still unsure. It wasn’t until this tax season that I realized what I have ignoring was exactly what I was looking for.

Why I Changed My Mind

Well, is not a new service, however in the past I was unsure about it’s features, price and security. These were the reasons, along with my history with Quicken, why I never decided to try it, however recently I changed my mind. While I was doing my taxes I came across a advertisement for Mint. I noticed that Mint, the personal finance and budgeting software, is also managed by Intuit (TurboTax, QuickBooks, Quicken, etc.).

Knowing that, my trust in Mint’s security features and features quickly increased. So I decided to do a little more research as I rarely trust a “free” service.

Free? What’s the Catch?

I’m always skeptical of businesses offering a free service, as its contradicts with it’s main reason for existence. Through my research I leaned how Intuit generates income through Mint’s free personal finance and budgeting software. Don’t worry they are not selling your information, they do however make money through business referrals.

As part of your membership you will receive a few offers to lower your mortgage payment, open or switch bank accounts to receive a higher interest rate and similar opportunities. If you choose to take advantage of these recommendations Intuit will receive a commission from the 3rd party service provider. So once I understood that it put my mind to ease.

Benefits and Features

Comprehensive View - As I mentioned before, I spend years not knowing my exact financial situation due to the amount of accounts that I have. Having a bunch of different accounts makes budgeting and tracking your finances difficult. Mint allows you to see all of your accounts at once, providing a comprehensive view with relatively no frustration.

Integration - No doubt that doing taxes an unwelcomed chore. However Mint enables you to integrate your account with TurboTax (Intuit owns that too). This allows you to easily import most of your financial data so you will no longer have to type in every single account total and amount.

It’s on the Cloud!- All that really means is that the application is centrally hosted on a server so you can access it through an internet web browser. This is unlike my past experience with other personal finance and budget software where I would have to buy and download a copy. Cloud applications eliminates the need to update your software and the associated headache.

Android and iOS Apps - Last but not least, Mint has created apps for Apple and Droid products. This allows you to chance your balances, budget, investments and other financial information on the go from the convenience of your smart phone or tablet. I wish more personal finance and budgeting software was this awesome.

I hope my experience with Mint helps you decided if this free service is for you. There are not many financial apps and services that I’m fond of, but I’ll give this 4 stars. If you have any financial planning questions or app opinions I want to hear them so place them in the comments below.