By Terry Savage Tribune News Service.
The New Year brings an entirely new way to manage your daily finances, allowing you to both receive and pay your bills from your smartphone. And it's free! Mint Bills is a new Web app from Intuit, parent company of Quicken desktop software and the popular Mint money tracking service for mobile devices.
Mint Bills adds the final piece to the puzzle of personal finances. The original Mint gave you power to categorize your spending, budget for money management, and receive real-time text alerts to notify you of impending overdrafts or overspending of your budget categories.
But you couldn't actually pay your bills with Mint.
Now Mint Bills not only lets you pay your bills on your mobile device and on the Web, but it also lets you receive bills and then pay them instantly. That two-way bill payment connection is the vital link that has been missing when it comes to staying on top of your finances any place, any time, with absolute security.
This free app (you can download for iOS or Android or sign up at MintBills.com) is easy enough for even non-techie to use. Setting up the app takes only minutes. You're prompted to choose among the largest billers in your zip code, such as utilities, but you can also set up other billers in Mint Bills. Then the app will reach out to those billers and, as soon as your bill is created, you will be receive push notifications and email. No more waiting for the bills to arrive in the mail. No more checking multiple websites to see if your bill has been posted. You have the choice: pay now, pay on the due date in a few weeks, pay a partial amount, or pay using your credit card.
When an incoming bill reminder arrives, just click to view the bill, click again to designate the payment source, and then confirm the transaction. If there's not enough money in your account, you won't be allowed to pay the bill, saving you from an overdraft fee.
It couldn't be easier, or more graphic. Three sections, or "tiles," on the Mint Bills home page let you see what bills are posted, with emphasis on those with an immediate payment needed. A monthly calendar shows reminders of regular bills and the dates they will come due.
This is seriously like having your financial conscience tap you on the shoulder to keep you on time and avoid overdraft fees and late fees.
Financial Controls and Convenience Whether you're a control freak or a scatterbrain when it comes to money, Mint Bills is designed for you. Now nothing gets lost in the mail, and procrastination is impossible. Even better, you can see all your bills in one place. That place is in your hand! There is even a "file cabinet" of past bills in the app, in pdf format, so you can go back over your VISA or credit card bill to see details of what you really paid for that pair of shoes several months ago! Or you can track the entire year of payments for any payee.
Mint Bills also includes your investment accounts, making it easy to get your entire financial picture, or even pay bills from your brokerage account.
Although Mint Bills doesn't interface with the original Mint, yet, any bills you pay are automatically categorized and budgeted in the original Mint app, which is still tracking all your spending and sending alerts when you are maxing out on your budgeted spending plan.
Questions Answered Mint Bills uses the highest level of bill payment security. And you can designate that the app will work only on your device and no other.
When you pay using your bank account, it's completely free. Like its partner, Mint, it is supported by financial services providers who send you text messages through the app, offering better deals on credit cards or mortgage refinancing or other financial products.
Intuit, parent of Quicken, bought the original Mint app several years ago, and then bought Check to get this bill presentment and payment technology. It is now on track to pay more than $1 billion in bills annually!
Your bills should be among them. And that's the Savage Truth. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER (Terry Savage is a Registered Investment Advisor, blogger and the author of four best-selling books, including "The Savage Truth on Money.")