These days, there’s no shortage of apps and tools to help you manage your finances. While this modern reality is mostly for the better, it also means that finding the right service for you can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why, for this review, we’re going to focus on just two popular options: Mint and EveryDollar.
On the surface, these tools may seem rather similar, as they both offer budgeting support meant to help you reign in your spending. Despite this, there are some major differences between the two that need to be highlighted.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Mint and EveryDollar, including the pros, cons, key features, and pricing for each.
What you need to know about Mint
What is Mint?
Mint is one of the most popular applications for budgeting and managing your money. Since 2009, it’s also been owned by Intuit, which is well-known for its QuickBooks and TurboTax products. With Mint, users will be able to connect multiple checking, savings, credit card, and brokerage accounts to set custom spending alerts so that they know when they’re about to bust their budget. Additionally, the service is available as both a mobile app and a desktop site, giving users more options for accessing their account.
The Pros and Cons of Mint
Pros of Mint:
- Free to use with no paid premium option
- Allows you to link multiple accounts and monitor your balances
- Log into other services for additional billing reminders and updates
- Automatically classified transaction based on merchant data
- Offers education (VantageScore 3.0) TransUnion credit score
Cons of Mint:
- Desktop interface is lackluster and dated
Signing up for Mint
To get started with Mint, you’ll need to create an Intuit account. This requires you to provide an email address and set up a secure password. Additionally, they recommend adding your phone number so that you can confirm logins via SMS, but this is optional. Then, Mint will ask you for your zip code so that they can “customize your experience.”
Once your account is set up, you’ll be invited to link your various bank accounts and credit card accounts to Mint. This is achieved by simply selecting the institution and logging into your online account as you normally would. In some cases, you may also need to provide a security code sent via email or SMS in order to complete the process.
Linking your accounts will allow you to view all of your balances and transactions in one place. It’s also how Mint can assess how you’re doing on your budget. Note: Mint is Norton certified, ensuring that your data is safe. In fact, more than 300 million accounts have been securely linked to the service so far.
Beyond traditional bank accounts, Mint also supports FinTech accounts including PayPal and Venmo. Plus, you can also add accounts for services like AT&T, Netflix, Geico, and many others to Mint so that the app can alert you to upcoming bill due dates.
Features of Mint
One of Mint’s best features is also its simplest: the ability to see all of your financial accounts in one place. Not only can you easily view your individual current balances at a glance but also see how much you have across all of your cash accounts, investments, and more. This is one of the reasons that users have flocked to Mint and it remains as useful as ever.
Using Mint, you can create a custom budget that incorporates as many or as few categories as you want. Even better, Mint will assess the merchant data from your purchases and automatically place transactions into the correct spending category. Of course, merchant coding data isn’t foolproof, so you may need to make some manual adjustments. Still, on the whole, this feature works quite well.
Some of the other ways you can customize your budget include adding one-off expenses, electing to carry leftover budgets to the next month, and more. You can also opt-into alerts that will let you know if you exceed your budget in any given category. All of these features make it easy to not only build a budget but also help ensure that you actually stick to it.
In addition to seeing your budget written out by category, Mint also offers graphs and insights that will highlight your finances in visual ways. This includes a color circle graph that will break down your purchases by category, a bar graph representing your cash flow, a breakdown of your assets, and other easy-to-generate visualizations. Quite honestly, not all of these charts, graphs, and reports will be helpful to all users. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options worth exploring.
Another useful tool available in Mint is the ability to obtain your free credit score. For the record, the number provided is not the FICO credit score that most lenders will use. Instead, Mint taps TransUnion data and the VantageScore 3.0 model to give users what’s often referred to as an educational credit score. In other words, it will give you a ballpark idea of where you stand. Although Mint’s credit score insights aren’t as extensive as other free options such as Credit Karma, it’s still a nice feature to have alongside other tools.
Mint is a free service and doesn’t offer a premium version. That said, users may encounter ads and offers from third-party services with varying pricing.
What you need to know about EveryDollar
What is EveryDollar?
EveryDollar is a budgeting tool from Ramsey Solutions — as in famed financial guru Dave Ramsey. With EveryDollar, users will be able to build what’s called a “zero-based budget,” where they account for every dollar spent (hence the name). In addition to the free version of EveryDollar, there’s also a paid upgrade called EveryDollar Plus that is billed annually at a cost of $129.99.
The Pros and Cons of EveryDollar
Pros of EveryDollar:
- Makes it easy to create “sunk funds” to prepare for upcoming expenses
- Allows you to create a new budget for each month
- Takes you through the process of building a zero-based budget
- Minimal third-party ads
- Clean and easy-to-navigate interface
Cons of EveryDollar:
- Most features are only available with EveryDollar Plus, which is a paid service
- Even with premium subscription, transactions need to be manually assigned to spending categories
Signing up for EveryDollar
To create an EveryDollar account, you’ll just need to enter some basic information. This includes your name, email address, and zip code. Of course, you’ll also need to set a password so that you can access your account in the future. After that, you’ll just need to confirm your email address to get started
Note that, although there is a paid version of EveryDollar, you won’t need to enter any payment information in order to set up a free account. Speaking of the paid upgrade, since the ability to link financial accounts is exclusive to EveryDollar Plus, you can skip that step for now and start building your budget.
Features of EveryDollar
After setting up your account, EveryDollar will walk you through the process of setting up your budget. This starts by entering your income — broken down into individual paychecks if you prefer. Then, the service will ask how much you spend in some key categories. Following this, you’ll be able to add other spending categories and make adjustments as needed.
As mentioned, EveryDollar preaches a strategy known as zero-based budgeting. This means that you create a plan for every dollar that you receive in income. Because of this, the app will tell you how much more you have to budget for based on the income you entered.
Also speaking to this method of budgeting, EveryDollar allows you to create what are called sinking funds. These funds allow you to set a little money aside each month for upcoming expenses such as vacations, down payments, or expenses that may only be charged annually. Meanwhile, there are also sections dedicated to paying down debt and reaching savings goals — all of which will be factored into your zero-based budget.
Another notable aspect of EveryDollar is that the app encourages creating a new budget for each month. Starting a new month’s budget will pull in the previous month’s data by default and then give you the chance to make any adjustments due to changes in income, varying expenses, etc.
With the free version of EveryDollar, you’ll need to manually enter your spending. To do this, you’ll tap the add Transactions button and then enter the amount of the purchase, put the date of the transaction, and select the spending/saving category. Right away, your budget will update to reflect this spending.
If you’ve ever listened to Dave Ramsey, you’re surely familiar with his Baby Steps program. These seven steps represent the journey to financial freedom. To help you keep track of your progress, EveryDollar allows you to easily view the Baby Steps and view updates on where you stand. For example, the first Baby Step is to build a $1,000 emergency fund. Thus, when you click on the Baby Steps tab in EveryDollar, it will show you how much you have left to go until you achieve this goal.
While the standard (or “free”) version of EveryDollar is mostly limited to those features, the paid upgrade to EveryDollar Plus adds a number of useful tools. Perhaps most importantly, as a Plus member, you’ll be able to link your various bank accounts and have transactions automatically imported. However, while transaction data will be pulled in, they will not automatically be categorized. Instead, you can go through each purchase and assign it to the spending category or — if you’re on desktop — drag and drop it into the proper place.
Some of the other features included with EveryDollar Plus include Insights into your spending, access to Financial Peace lessons, the ability to ask a financial coach a question, and more. With that in mind, this upgrade is more than just an app purchase and, instead, is more akin to an educational course subscription. That’s something important to consider when determining whether or not this upgrade is right for you.
Users can join EveryDollar and use its basic budgeting tools for free without ever having to enter a credit card number or other payment data. However, the service also offers EveryDollar Plus. After a 15-day free trial, users who upgrade to EveryDollar Plus will be charged $129.99 for one year.
EveryDollar vs. Mint: The Verdict
Ultimately, the choice between Mint and EveryDollar will likely come down to what type of budget you want to create and stick to. For example, those who want to simply draw some lines around their spending and keep themselves in check may find that Mint allows them to achieve that goal. Meanwhile, others who want a more rigid budget or who are avid Ramsey devotees may prefer the zero-based budget style that EveryDollar not only supports but demands.
Of course, another major factor is the price. While Mint is free and EveryDollar offers a free version, in order to tap most of EveryDollar’s functionality, you’ll need to upgrade to their paid service, EveryDollar Plus (although there is a 15-day free trial). While this subscription will give you access to educational materials — including those based around Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” program — the other paid features still don’t measure up to what Mint offers.
On that note, I’d say that Mint has the edge for most users. With its numerous customization options, Mint should be able to handle just about any budget preference or situation you have. However, there’s also no rule that says you can’t use both options. Therefore, if you’re curious and want to explore what zero-based budgeting is all about, you could easily try the free version of EveryDollar while potentially supplementing that service with Mint. In the end, what really matters isn’t what tool you use but that you get the job done.
You can also read Savology’s recent comparison of YNAB vs Mint for more considerations when it comes to budgeting tools.