It was a revelation – all this data at my fingertips. All these pretty charts.
It had little categorization headaches but for a free app, it was awesome.
Until then, I was saving all of my receipts and recording all my expenses into an Excel spreadsheet. I'm as much of a spreadsheet junkie as you can get but manually entering expenses was a chore.
When Mint came along, and this was the days before Intuit bought them, it saved me a ton of time. It was magnificent.
Over the years, Mint has done a fine job but I needed more. I need something better than Mint. Tracking expenses is just one side of the equation of achieving wealth. My savings were going into investments but Mint did a great job of budgeting and expenses but when it came to investments it… lacking.
So I turned to another completely free tool – Personal Capital.
What is Personal Capital?
It's a free to use service, much like Mint, that acts as your financial dashboard. It's more than a way to track expenses and budget for savings. It also tracks your investments and has integration with a litany of brokerages.
It's free to use because they also offer optional financial advisory services. If you want to, you can talk with a financial advisor or just rely on their suite of free tools that analyze your investments and offer automated advice.
You can even use them for wealth management, meaning you give them your money and they invest it for you. Again, optional and I don't use it (my money is with Vanguard in low-cost mutual funds).
Why is it better than Mint?
With Mint, you only budget. You see what you spend, you try to spend less, and you stop there. If you want to track investments, good luck.
All of my banks, brokerages, and investments are tracked in one place. My income and expenses are tracked too.
Here's a look at some of the investment screens (none of my money is with Personal Capital, this is data they pulled from my other accounts:
And with their tools, you can get advice on what my investment should be (according to what I tell them my risk tolerance and age is):
If you have investments and want a tool that does that AND tracks expenses, give this a try.
I asked readers of the blog about their favorite personal finance app and this one comment really resonated with me — “Mint I use to see where my money has gone and Personal Capital I use to see where my money should go.” Very well put.
You Can Use Them Together
Let's say you have years of Mint data, you're used to how they do things, it's categorized your transactions perfectly, and you're just not ready to jump ship after the countless hours you put into it.
I felt the same way. I kind of like having all those months of charts and graphs.
So I used the two together for a while.
Mint doesn't have the investing tools you need to get to the next level. Personal Capital does, so start tracking that aspect of your financial life today until you reach the point that the years of historical data are less valuable to you.
Plus they're both free so you're not double paying (or even single paying!) for a service and they're both automated so you're not doing double work.
OK, that was my last ditch effort to try to get you to try a free service I use every month. 🙂