I’ll first start with Mint. What I love about Mint is that it allows you to link all of your bank accounts to the application. On Mint, I have my credit card account, two checking accounts, and one savings account, all listed on one page. In addition, I have all of my student loan accounts through MyFedLoans listed on the application as well. I love how all I need to do to enter the app is type in a simple passcode, and all of my account information pops right up for me to view. I can click on a particular account and view my transactions in detail. So, if I am ever waiting for a check to be withdrawn from my account (i.e. a rent check), I can easily check it on the go, with my app, rather than having to log onto my computer, and into my particular account. So much time and energy is saved by checking my accounts on this app. It’s always great to get automatic reminders from Mint as well—such as alerts when a loan or credit card payment due date is approaching. Mint has many unique features, but my use of it does not extend much further than this. I absolutely love how simple it is to view all of my financial accounts with just one click.
One aspect of Mint, however, I am not the biggest fan of. Mint offers a budgeting feature, but I have not found it helpful at all. With Mint’s budget tool, purchases are automatically placed into various budget categories. Unfortunately, this muddles up my budget categories royally. If I make a purchase at Wal-Mart, it automatically classifies it into a “shopping” budget. Mint doesn’t know if I am purchasing food (groceries budget), a present (gift budget), alcohol (alcohol and bars budget), etc. It makes an effort to do a respectable job classifying my spending, but sorry Mint, I do a much better job myself. This is why I use Goodbudget to manually handle my budgeting instead.
Goodbudget is the perfect app for someone like me (and hopefully for someone like you too). I am very diligent about keeping up with all of my spending, and entering every purchase I make into my Goodbudget budgeting tool. When I first created my Goodbudget, I had to determine what categories I wanted to use in my budget (free version limits you to 10 categories), and how much money I wanted to devote to each category. Of course, my overall monthly spending goals (and income) had an impact on how much money I allotted to each category. (Also note that, no matter what my income is, I will always try to live as frugally as possible and maintain a lifestyle in which I have very low monthly spending). Now that I have my budget set up and established on the application, everything from this point out is insanely easy. If I make a rent payment, I take out my phone, and enter the transaction into my Goodbudget. I’ll list the amount spent, the category of the transaction, and I’ll often include a small note about the transaction. By making notes in each transaction, I am able to easily track my spending in detail and know exactly where my money is going. As I spend in each category, I can open my Goodbudget and see a visual representation of how much money I have spent, and how much money I have left in each category. Basically, I use Mint to track how much money I have across my different accounts, and I use my Goodbudget to track where my money goes.
There is only one small drawback from Goodbudget. As of now, I have not found a way to automatically reset my budget categories at the beginning of each month. Perhaps I am being technically challenged, or maybe this feature just isn’t available in the free version. So, at the end of each month, I determine how much money I have “leftover” across my budget accounts (i.e. money I have not spent), and then I make an additional loan payment with that amount. Then, I do a “credit” for each category in order to manually reset all of my categories to their initial dollar allowances.
****Update 1/26/15: LMLM (see comments below) has provided a link that shows how to reset the budget categories in Goodbudget at the beginning of each month. Thank you so much LMLM, and now I nothing negative to say about Goodbudget at all! It's seriously the best.
If you use Mint and/or Goodbudget, please comment and share how they have helped you keep track of your finances and maintain a lifestyle of minimum spending. Do you find other aspects of the applications useful that I did not mention? Do you use a different budgeting tool that you absolutely love? Speak up! Share it with the world so we can all benefit!