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Best free personal financial and budgeting program

When it comes to spending and saving, many Americans don’t have a grasp on their financial well-being. Unfortunately, this lack of control often results from either the absence of tools such as a household budget or not maintaining one. Having an inadequate financial structure can come at a tremendous cost, whether it be limited emergency funds, poor credit or the inability to save for retirement.Perhaps you went a bit overboard during the latest round of Prime Day deals, or you have a Starbucks habit you can’t kick. Chances are if you peer into your finances you will find room for improvement. Making even the smallest of changes can prove key to recovering or advancing your financial security.How do you begin the journey to financial wellness? It all starts with a budget. One that is realistic and can be followed by all members of your household. Kim recommends using the free (in-app offers) Mint app and website from the financial software giant Intuit. Related: Easy way to teach your kids to manage finances 

What is Mint?

Intuit’s Mint is a web-based personal budgeting program that is available for desktop use, or as an app for both Android and iOS. In addition to allowing you to view all of your accounts, including bank, credit cards, loans, and investments in one place, Mint has several other features:
  • Budget creator with alerts
  • Bill payment tracker
  • Financial goal tracker
  • Ways to save money
  • Free credit score
During the setup, you will need to enter details for each account you want to be included in your Mint records. Concerned about the security of your information? Mint uses two-factor authentication in addition to password protection, keeping your financial data guarded.

Budgeting with Mint

When it comes to creating a budget and tracking expenses, Mint surpasses its competitors. Once you download and sync your transactions and enter your expenses, Mint will place them in preset categories. If needed, you can create subcategories. Using Mint’s budget tracker will help you keep an eye on your income and spending to safeguard against going over your set budget.Budget alerts-With Mint’s budget alerts you can avoid unnecessary fees. In addition to informing you when your balances are low, or large or suspicious transactions occur, Mint will show you how much you are spending on ATM fees, send you bill reminders and notify you if you exceed your budget.Bill payment tracker-Managing and paying your monthly bills through a variety of sites and apps can be time-consuming. You can eliminate this hassle by scheduling to pay all of your expenses through Mint. The payment tracker will alert you when your bills are coming due, to avoid late fees or penalties.Want to view a graphical break-down of categories including spending, assets or net worth, among others? Mint can produce graphs with optional filters to help you visualize your finances.

Meeting Goals with Mint

If you wish to pay off debt, purchase a home, save for retirement, education, or dream vacation, Mint will make meeting your financial goals more manageable. After choosing your desired objective, Mint will ask you a few questions specific to that goal and will show you how much you need to contribute monthly to meet your target. Related: How to organize your end-of-life plans 

Ways to save money with Mint

Looking for ways to save money? No need to scour the internet for the right banking, investment, insurance, or lending options when Mint matches you up with providers of these services. In addition, you can check your credit score and read tips on how to improve it through the website or Mint app.Between the convenience of handling all of your finances in one program and the wide selection of features Mint offers, taking control of your finances has never been easier. I am confident that once you utilize Mint, you will understand why it is considered the best by its 15+ million users.The Mint app is free for both Android and iOS. Click or tap here for iOS. Tap or click here for Android.
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