Should Couples Use Mint.com To Manage Joint Finances?

Track Your Accounts

We decided to put Mint to the test FOR COUPLES. Is Mint a user friendly and helpful tool for couples who combine their finances?

If you’re not familiar with Mint, have you been living under a rock? Just kidding, friends. Mint is a popular and free web-based personal finance software used by millions of people to track their money.

How does it work?

When you sign up for Mint, they prompt you to connect all your financial accounts to your Mint account. Mint then automatically pulls in all your balances and transactions every time you log in. This aggregating feature essentially eliminates the need to log into multiple accounts and enables you to:

  • See a snapshot of all your financial accounts in one place, including checking, savings, credit cards, loans, investments and anything else you’ve got going on.
  • See all your transactions from various credit cards and checking accounts pulled into one place. Mint will automatically categorize your expenses into common categories like Food & Dining or Bills & Utilities. You can change (or correct, since the software doesn’t always get it right) the categories for individual expenses or merchants and tell Mint to always label it that way going forward.
  • Track your income, spending and net worth over time using colorful charts.
  • Use your past spending to set realistic budgets for future spending. You can set budgets for major spend categories and receive alerts if you go over.

There are other useful features beyond this list. There are also glitches that we and others have often experienced.

We asked three couples to use Mint for three months. Here is what they told us.

The Pros

1. You get an up-to-date snapshot of your joint financial accounts, all in a single place.

Some couples combine all their assets and liabilities, while others keep everything separate, and still others use a hybrid approach where they have one or more joint accounts and still maintain their individual accounts. Whatever you’ve decided works best for the two of you, you can see all of it in one place.

2. You can see your dual net worth.

Again, if you’ve combined some or all of your accounts, you’ll want to see how your joint money is growing. Mint will calculate your net worth (your assets minus your debts) and track it over time. This is a helpful way to assess your overall financial picture as a couple.

3. You can have better conversations about money.

Mint will send you weekly or monthly alerts, per your preference, with a summary of what you spent your money on. It will also send you alerts when you go over budget or if you’re charged a late fee, among other things.

These are good prompts for you two to talk about your spending patterns and goal setting. If you’ve never tracked your money before, this can be eye-opening for one or both of you and lead you to have good conversations that strengthen your financial position as a couple!

The Cons

1. You can’t merge two existing Mint accounts.

One of our tester couples was already using Mint individually, so they wanted to join their two Mint accounts. Unfortunately, Mint doesn’t have this functionality. This can be quite a pain if you’ve been pretty diligent about using Mint as a single person and have it all set up the way you want.

If you want to see all your financial accounts in one place, however, you have two basic options:

  • Create a new Mint account for the two of you and connect each of your financial accounts to it.
  • Use one of your existing Mint accounts and add the other person’s financial accounts to it.

Here is an excerpt from a Mint moderator that echoes this workaround:

Mint Joint Account

2. You can’t use two email addresses for the login.

The Mint login is your email and password. One tester couple wanted to be able to access their couples account with both of their email addresses. However, Mint only allows one email address for the log in.

Mint Login

Your workaround options are:

  • Create a joint email address like harrysally@gmail.com that you both check regularly. When Mint emails you updates or alerts, you’ll both get them. (Some couples already have a joint email that they create for some other purpose, like when they’re wedding planning and want to collect RSVPs into one central place.)
  • Use one of your existing email addresses, and both of you will use it to log in. If you do this, there is a helpful feature in Mint that lets you add a second email address that will receive the same email updates as the primary email address receives.

3. You need to watch out for duplicate transactions.

Many couples have one or more joint credit card accounts. The way this usually works is one person is the primary cardholder and the other person is the additional cardholder, so they have two cards for one account.

One of our tester couples did this with an American Express credit card that they used for all of their expenses. When they reviewed their purchases on americanexpress.com, one of their names appeared next to each transaction, depending on whose card was used for that purchase. Each transaction appeared just once. However, Mint pulled in some transactions twice, so it looked like they were spending double.

The likely reason is because they linked both cards to their Mint account, even though the two cards are actually one Amex account. So it seems that Mint was pulling in all the transactions of the additional cardholder AND pulling them in a second time under the primary cardholder.

The workaround options here are:

  • Don’t link the secondary cardholder’s account to Mint, or delete or hide it if it’s already in Mint.
  • Keep both cards linked but manually mark each duplicate transaction as “duplicate.” This one is a lot of work and can get annoying.

We’re not sure if this happens with other card issuers like Chase or Citibank, since we only observed this with American Express. However, the Mint community Q&A forum is full of people reporting issues with duplicate transactions, and not just for secondary cardholders, so it seems like duplicates are a general Mint issue.

If you’ve tried Mint as a couple, what do you think? Is Mint user friendly for couples?

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