Personal Capital and Mint are the two best free financial software tools today. They are both based right here in San Francisco where I live as well.
As a result, I have sat down with the management and various personnel of both companies to get get a unique in-depth overview of the firms. Further, I've used both platforms for over six years each as well. There's nobody online who has had more experience and more access to these two firms as I have.
To summarize: Personal Capital is best for those of you who are more focused on building wealth through investments. Mint is great for those of you who are more focused on the basics of budgeting. Personal Capital has budgeting tools as well, but Personal Capital's suite of free tools is much more comprehensive than Mint's.
Overall, my nod is towards Personal Capital because they are an independently owned private company that keeps on innovating and adding valuable tools.
Mint was sold way back in 2009 to software giant Intuit for $170, and just doesn't seem to be innovating as fast as Personal Capital as a result.
It's what tends to happen when any company gets acquired. The good people leave after their shares vest and the remaining product slowly gets stale.
Main Personal Capital Features
Retirement Planner. This tool helps you to know if you’re on track to retire, and even allows you to make adjustments for major life changes, such as job/career/income changes, illness, childbirth or saving for college. Personal Capital also has a new retirement paycheck feature to help you estimate your cash flow too.
401(k) Fund Allocation. Even though Personal Capital can’t manage your employer sponsored retirement plan, they can analyze the plan and make asset allocation suggestions based on all of the investment options available in the plan.
Net Worth Calculator. Track your assets and liabilities so that you can quickly find your net worth at any time. This tool will help you to really know if you’re on track to reach your long-term financial goals.
Cash Flow Analyzer. Use this tool to create a budget, where you can track your income and expenses whatever the sources. This will help you see where you’re spending money, so that you can free up income for savings, investing, and debt payoff.
Investment Checkup tool. This can provide a risk assessment of your portfolio, including your retirement plan. It will make suggestions to help you improve your asset allocation plan to make it consistent with your goals and personal preferences.
Personal Capital is an all-in-one financial management platform with an emphasis on successful investment management.
Here is a detail Personal Capital review post after I met with the CEO and all senior management.
Main Mint Features
Much like Personal Capital, Mint is an aggregator for your entire financial life. That includes checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans and investment accounts. The service claims to be able to connect with “almost every US financial institution connected to the internet.” This is the same with Personal Capital as both use Yodlee's financial connection platform.
Budgeting. This is Mint’s strong suit, and the primary reason you would use the service. Once you sync your accounts and transactions, they will be automatically sorted into the appropriate categories going forward. Updates then occur in real time. You can also set up sub-categories of certain expenses, to customize the presentation in a way that works best for you. Once you have your account set up, you’ll be able to track, analyze and adjust expenses and spending habits as needed.
The site does enable you to make adjustments to your expenses even after they have been categorized. Once changes are made, Mint will automatically place similar transactions within the same expense categories.
Mint Bills. Mint enables you to be able to connect an unlimited number of accounts which means you can add any and all bills you have, including credit cards and other loan payments. Not only does it provide you with alerts of upcoming due dates, but it also shows you your available cash and credit next to the upcoming bills. You can pay bills with either a bank account or credit card, and it even allows you to schedule payments. The feature is available on your personal computer and your mobile device.
Establishing goals. You can create goals within the Mint application. This can include saving money for specific purposes (college, retirement, vacation, etc.), paying off debt, or paying off your mortgage. This is one of my favorite features because it allows you to save with a purpose. Once you tether your income streams to specific goals, it makes saving much more easy.
Mint Alerts. By signing up for alerts, you will be notified by email or by smartphone when there are significant changes in your finances. Alerts will be sent when there is a large purchase, an upcoming bill payment, late fees, loan rate changes, and when you may be in danger of going over your budget.
Credit score monitoring. Mint offers credit monitoring, and no credit card is required to participate. This makes it a truly free credit monitoring service. You can get your credit score in as little as two minutes, enjoy daily monitoring, and get credit alerts when Equifax (one of the three major credit bureaus) receive new information from your creditors. The service even shows you the factors that are impacting your credit score, and how to use them to improve your score.
The Winner Is: Personal Capital
Given I firmly believe it's much more rewarding to grow your wealth through investments than trying to squeeze every last penny out of your budget, I believe Personal Capital is the clear winner between the two. Personal Capital has great cash flow analysis software like Mint, but it has so much more with regards to helping you manage and grow your net worth.
In most head-to-head comparisons, it’s rare that any one service is better than another, and that’s the case with Personal Capital and Mint. If your primary emphasis is on budgeting and monitoring your credit – which typically comes before you start investing – then Mint is the clear winner.
My favorite Personal Capital feature is their Retirement Planner. They use a Monte Carlo simulation using your real expense and income history to come up with your future cash flow and cash expenses. This tool is the culmination of all your hard work that everybody should run. Once you run the tool, then you can figure out where to improve.
I recently had lunch with Mark Goines, Vice Chairman and Eric Weiss, Chief Marketing Officer in San Francisco to get an update about their operations as of 1H2020.
Personal Capital has grown to over 400 employees with a new office in Atlanta, Georgia. They also run roughly $11 billion in client assets under management, while tracking over $900 billion in assets from users who use their free financial app.
I highly recommend everybody sign up to track their net worth, analyze their investments, and plan their retirement cash flow. The firm is clearly doing well and will be around for a long time to come.
Sign up here for Personal Capital today and leverage technology to build your wealth.
About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $200,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
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