Posted by Anna Traugh on December 4, 2023
The recent news that the budgeting website and app, Mint, will be shut down has caused many people to panic. Mint, by Intuit, has been utilized by millions of people over the last decade, and its closure will disrupt the detailed budget tracking that its users have grown accustomed to and now rely on. The website was innovative at its inception in 2007, tracking a person’s spending every time they swiped their debit or credit card and telling the customer when they had gone over budget – or were about to go over budget - on a variety of categories including fuel, groceries, or shopping. Furthermore, the app could help the user to set up both short- and long-term financial goals such as paying down a car loan or saving for retirement.
With the upcoming shutdown of Mint, Intuit now guides their clientele to use the budgeting software on Credit Karma instead. But is that the best replacement app for budgeting? Below is a review of Credit Karma as well as other options that may more closely resemble the Mint features that people have enjoyed:
While other budgeting apps allow a potential customer to preview its features before setting up an account, Credit Karma prompts the user to create an account before learning more about the website’s capabilities. The user is prompted to provide quite a bit of information during registration – including home address, last four digits of their social, and date of birth. The reason for this required information seems to be that Credit Karma’s main focus is just that – credit. It could be a great tool to help a person build credit, check their credit score, and find help with debt relief – and it’s free! However, it lags in budgeting-specific features. Some of Mint’s capabilities will transfer to Credit Karma; for example, users will be able to view their transaction history, however, they won’t be able to categorize these transactions nor track their spending against a set monthly budget.
Unique features: The focus here is on credit, not budgeting, and their expertise lies in helping the user improve their credit score.
Lunch Money $10/month or $100/annually
This tracker, which is engineered, designed, and managed by the founder, Jen Yip, allows the user to create a visually appealing budget and then track their expenses within those constraints. The tracker is very similar to Mint’s and shows the user how much they’ve spent in a particular category. For example, if the budget allows for $500 monthly for groceries, the snapshot view will show how much has already been spent in that category and how much still remains. There are many customizable features as well as quite detailed analysis for those that want to more fully understand and then adjust their personal budget.
Unique features: Comprehensive budget tracking, crypto portfolio tracker, multi-currency support, and recurring expenses tracker.
Tiller $79/year ($6.58/month)
Tiller is different from some of the other budgeting apps because its interface is based in a Google or Excel spreadsheet. Some tabs in the spreadsheet, such as “transactions” are what you’d expect – numbers typed into cells – while others, such as “spending trends” and “monthly budget” are populated with easy-to-follow charts and other visuals. Fonts, colors, budgeting categories, and many other elements are fully customizable, and customers receive an email summary of transactions and balances each morning.
Unique features: The spreadsheet function is different from many other apps and would work best for those used to tracking cash flow in a spreadsheet.
Monarch Money $14.99/month or $99.99/annually ($8.33/month)
Monarch has received a lot of positive attention lately, and part of that is because of its wide scope of features. This website (which has an app component) provides support in many areas such as tracking net worth, budgeting, recurring expenses, and investments. Mint users will find that the budgeting screen looks nearly identical to Mint’s with income, expenses, and progress toward goals being tracked monthly. Along with these standard features, Monarch invites users to add a partner, such as a spouse or even a financial advisor, to their account. The partner will have their own login yet will be able to view all monetary transactions.
Unique features: Monarch’s Sankey Diagram uses clear visuals to show where each dollar of their income is flowing – a feature that reiterates the importance of sticking to a budget.
This free app mirrors the envelope-stuffing budgeting method made popular by Dave Ramsey. In that philosophy, a person cashes in their paycheck for cash, and then allocates a certain amount of the cash into various envelopes. Each envelope covers one type of expense, so a person might have $1500 cash in an envelope for rent and another $100 in an envelope earmarked for gas and fuel. Using this system helps many people to spend only what they make, and Goodbudget adapts this same philosophy to their app. This allows the user to use credit cards (and reap the rewards points!) while still spending within their means. The app helps the user to fill their electronic envelopes with their earned money to keep their spending in check. Upgrade to a paid version for unlimited electronic envelopes (free version provides 20 per account).
Unique features: The website provides resources to help customers learn how to pay off debt, create a budget, and align their budgets to their values.
Copilot $95/annually ($7.92/month)
Copilot is another app recently gaining traction. It’s marketed toward a younger audience with colorful, cartoon images and emojis, yet it contains some sophisticated features. One small but impactful element is the “Mark as Reviewed” button which appears under every transaction. Having to review and confirm each purchase could help people hold themselves accountable on their budgeting journey as they won’t be able to overlook any purchases. Along with confronting spending, this feature could help to detect credit card fraud if an unknown purchase is reviewed. The app also contains screens for budgeting, investments, and setting up goals. A major downside of Copilot is that it is only available for Mac and iPhone.
Unique features: The “rebalance budget” button at the bottom of the categories screen. This will analyze the consumer’s spending for the month and reallocate the dollars to create a more realistic budget for them to use.
Many of these services provide free trials as well as deals for existing Mint users to transition to their platform. It may be worth trying a few before you find the one that works best for your needs. If none of the apps are a perfect fit – or you’d rather take a more hands on approach – a spreadsheet is a tried-and-true method for tracking cash flow. Resources, such as NerdWallet offer free budget spreadsheet templates including their 50/30/20 option which designs a budget with 50% of income going to a person’s needs, 30% earmarked for wants, and 20% allocated for savings and paying off debt. Some people may find these guidelines to be helpful as they construct a plan that fits their needs. Regardless of the path you take, it’s important to track cash flow as part of your larger financial plan.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered investment, tax, or financial advice. Cornerstone does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information presented in this post regarding your individual circumstances. Please review your personal situation with your tax and/or financial advisor.