Trying to stick within your budget is no easy task when you're guessing at your balance. Mint.com's free personal finance service and companion mobile apps change that.
After giving Mint.com access to your bank, credit card, and investment accounts, the password-protected Mint.com app can monitor your accounts, your budget, and even your cash flow. The app presents your money matters in summary form, with the capability to drill down to the item level of a purchase. Follow the trail to the end to edit an item's transaction details or jot down notes or tags.
While previous versions of Mint were largely read-only, the app has come a long way. Now you can set up and mange budgets from anywhere. You can also add transactions as well as new banking and investment accounts to your Mint profile, right from the app.
Mint takes advantage of the Android platform's home screen widget and Live Folder features so you can view your assets without opening the app -- assuming you're not shy about keeping financial details within eyeshot of others. The widget gives you readings for cash and credit debt, and provides a shortcut to booting up the full app. It would be nice if it also listed out alerts and bill reminders, though that would, of course, take up quite a bit of Home screen real estate.
While Mint for Android phones is certainly serviceable, the app running on a tablet is absolutely stunning. It offers many of the visual elements of the full Web site, including charts of your spending, graphs for budgets, and attractive icons. And everything is beautifully laid out in a multipanel interface. Meanwhile, the phone version is largely text-based.