One of the most basic pieces of financial advice you can get is to create a budget or to save for retirement and plan for your financial future. However, most people don’t even know how to do that. Information on personal finance is scarcely taught in the public schools anymore, so a lot of people have to figure it out on their own. Fortunately, like every other problem on earth, there are apps for that. Intuit’s Mint and Personal Capital are two tools popular for helping people to figure out what they’re spending, then determine how they’re going to start making changes to that spending for long-term benefit. Here’s how they stack up against each other.
What Is Mint?
Mint started way back in 2006. In 2009, it was acquired by financial tech giant Intuit. It’s now the primary personal finance product from Intuit, since they sold off Quicken. Unlike Quicken, there’s no software you keep locally. It’s all stored in the cloud. Mint tracks your purchases to show you where your money is going, an important first step toward creating and sticking to a budget.
What Is Personal Capital?
Personal Capital can be difficult to distinguish from Mint on the surface, however there’s one big difference: Personal Capital is very focused on investing. Their target audience is investors with a portfolio worth between $100,000 and $2 million, which is the average person investing and saving up for retirement.
What Do They Both Offer?
Both services seamlessly link up to your financial accounts, making it easy to track what’s going on in real time. They’ll send you email notifications and offer two-factor authentication, making them secure ways to manage your finances. They both offer cash-flow reporting so you can see where you’re spending your money, an important first step toward making changes in your financial habits.
How Are They Different?
Again, the main difference is in the focus between the two. Mint is more about paying bills and day-to-day expenses. Personal Capital won’t create a budget for you, but Mint will. It will even give you suggestions about where you can save money. Credit report monitoring is another attractive feature of Mint that is not offered by Personal Capital. For $16.99 a month, you can get detailed reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through Mint.
Personal Capital, on the other hand, is going to help you to invest where “invest” mostly means planning for your retirement. Where Mint shows you where you could spend less money, Personal Capital shows you where you’re paying too much in fees for your investment accounts. It helps you to look at your retirement accounts and see if you’re “on track” for retirement. You can even look at some “what if” scenarios that might make you uncomfortable so that you can plan for the worst while you hope for the best. A paid option offers investment advice. Personal Capital also comes free of ads.
Mint offers something in the way of portfolio management. It aggregates all of your portfolios so that you can look at them and see where you’re at. However, when it comes to any kind of investment advice or management, it’s simply not robust enough of a tool even for smaller investors. These are the people most impacted by investment fees, so picking up Personal Capital and seeing where they can save money is going to help them grow their retirement accounts much faster and over a shorter period of time.
Which One Is Right For You?
Why not have both? Mint can help you to dial in on your spending and create a budget. From there, you can use the money that you’re saving for your retirement investment accounts. The tools have some overlap, to be sure, but are more complementary than they are competitive with one another. Think of Mint as a banking tool and Personal Capital as a sort of brokerage account app.
Some consumers are simply looking to get their financial house in order by looking at their bills and seeing where they can save money. These people are clearly in Mint’s wheelhouse. Others already have their budgeting on point, but are looking for ways to get more out of their retirement accounts and investments. These people are clearly Personal Capital customers who might find Mint of dubious utility. Many people, however, will find that they receive the biggest benefit from using both in tandem with one another.
Still, neither of them take very long to download or set up. And as both offer free options, checking them out and seeing how to integrate both of them into your financial life is probably going to be the best option for most consumers.