New Mint Goals: Pay Off Credit Cards and Loans

I’ve always thought that Mint’s Goals feature has been one of its coolest features to play around with. However, it didn’t take long to realize that it would be even better if Mint had the ability to link these goals to actual accounts you have. Mint allowed me Mint Goals Pay Off Debtto link particular accounts with my savings goals so that I could have a travel savings account and plan my savings for a trip or car in the future. However, Mint didn’t allow users to link debt accounts to these goals. That was, of course, until this month. Mint has finally implemented a new goals feature for paying off debt. Mint will allow you to choose to Pay off Credit Card Debt, or Pay off Loans.

If you’ve been using Mint, then it’s likely that you already have your credit card and loan information set up. When you click on one of the two debt-related goals, Mint will pull up your accounts related to that type of debt. When I clicked to set up my goal to Pay off Loans, Mint.com pulled up the following accounts:

Mint pay off student loans

This is what remains of my student loans. Mint populated the remaining balances, as well as the monthly payment amounts, from my account information. All I had to do was verify the info and press Next.

On the next page, Mint gives you a neat slider where you can choose the payments to set for your goal.

Mint pay off debt slider

As expected, after paying off a decent chunk of my student loans, more of the minimum payment is going toward principal now. This means that instead of the 10 years the minimum payment was set-up to pay the loans off in, my student debt would be paid off in 4.5 years from now if only the minimum payment was paid each month. However, you know that’s not my plan at all.

Mint paying off loan slider

My plan right now is to pay off my loans by the end of this year. By playing around with the slider, I determined that this will take about $3,350 per month on average. That means I need to step on the gas. By paying off my debt so quickly, I’ll save myself $3,201 in interest. If I don’t reach my goal but still manage to pay an average $2k per month, I’ll still pay off my debt in less than a year and save myself $2,800. I think that timeline is definitely doable.

If Mint’s new debt goals feature just measured my progress and let me set up my plan using the sliders I’d be more than happy. However, Mint takes it one step further and actually develops action steps for you. Now, the interest rate on my student debt is all 6.8%, but for purposes of showing you what Mint does, I told Mint that the interest rate on one of them was 10.8%.

Mint student loan payment schedule

Mint then provided me with my six-month plan. It’s a pretty nifty chart that shows you how much to pay each month, and on which debt. Basically, Mint will have you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. If some of the interest is tax deductible (student loan vs. auto loan), then you may need to adjust this payment plan because I’m assuming that Mint doesn’t factor that in. However, once the debts remaining have the same interest rate, Mint will have you pay down the lowest balance first to get the psychological benefits of getting rid of a debt, much like Dave Ramsey preaches. If my debts weren’t all from the same lender and had the same interest rate, I would probably print off this chart and put it on my wall. Then, as I made each prescribed payment, I would check it off. I think this feature is complete icing on the cake, and it makes Mint’s new pay off debt goals a great addition to the website. This is just one more reason why Mint.com is my favorite personal finance tool.

 

Mint.com Review: My Favorite Personal Finance Tool

I originally started using Mint back in 2007 as a casual user. I checked it out and thought it was useful, but I really didn’t spend too much time with it. At this point, I was in college and not watching my money too closely. Fast-forward to 2011, and it’s without a doubt my favorite personal finance tool. On a basic level, Mint is an aggregator of personal financial data. There are a number of similar services out there, but Mint really is the best. Why else do you think Intuit (the makers of Quicken and TurboTax) purchased Mint? Intuit’s Quicken Online couldn’t compete with Mint, so it decided it was easier to just buy the competition.

Getting started with Mint is simple. You simply sign up and start entering your login information for your financial institutions (banks, brokerage accounts, loans, etc.). Mint pretty much takes it all, from PayPal, to Chase, to Direct Loans. Your information is stored and transmitted using the same encryption banks use, so your information is about as safe as it’s going to get on the internet.

So what is it that makes Mint so great? First of all, it’s free. Mint makes money by pitching you offers based on your habits. These offers are not intrusive and you usually won’t notice them at all. It’s well worth having some advertising for this great service.

Mint Overview Net Worth

Mint excels at providing a snapshot of your financial situation. It automatically calculates your balance sheet for you, providing you with a total net worth. From this overview snapshop you can then click on the twisty next to each asset or liability class to see the breakdown. Mint will allow you to add accounts from nearly any financial institution. When it wasn’t as popular, Mint was limited in its ability to grab information from regional financial institutions. I have Mint tracking transactions in my bank accounts (five different banks), PayPal, Scottrade, Direct Loans, and each of my 11 (yikes!) credit cards. It takes every account I’ve been able to throw at it. If you do find an account that Mint doesn’t like, make sure you report it to Mint so that they can work on integrating it.

Beyond giving you a nice balance sheet, Mint also provides you with a number of ways to keep an eye on your income and your expenses. When Mint imports transactions Mint Spending Chartyou’ll want to categorize them. For many transactions, Mint will already know how to classify it based on data it has gathered. Mint will also learn from your actions and you can instruct it to always categorize a certain type of transaction to the category of your choosing. Once you have your categories set-up you’ll be able to keep track of your spending by category and pinpoint areas for improvement (like cutting back my Starbucks spending).

Another cool feature that Mint recently added is the Goals section. Mint allows you to create goals, such as saving for a trip. Mint will even help you estimate costs based on destination, etc. It’s pretty cool, you should check it out. It works best if you link the goal to an online savings account because then Mint can easily keep track of your contributions and progress. Mint Goals

Mint is great, but only if it does what you’re looking for and provides everything you need. Mint is basic and very easy to use. Some people love the automation it provides, and others won’t want to give up this control. Some people prefer to enter transactions manually in an Excel spreadsheet or Quicken because it ensures that they really know where every dollar is going. I highly recommend Mint for anyone who, like me, doesn’t want to be bothered having to manually keep track of transactions. Even if you don’t care about the transaction data, it can be beneficial simply to track your net worth. If Mint sounds like something you might be interested in, you should check out Mint.com. If you sign up and decide it’s not for you, you can simply abandon or delete the account and no harm done.