Mint.com is straightforward and easy to use but the site does require some financial knowledge. Don't worry—using Mint.com doesn't require a degree in finance. Understanding a few basic financial terms will go a long way in helping you get the most out of the site:

  • Account: A financial relationship you have with an institution such as a bank or a lender. Checking, savings, and credit card accounts can all be tracked by Mint.com.

  • Balance: How much money you have, or owe, in an account.

  • Assets: Items of value that you own.

  • Debts: Money you owe to someone else, most likely a financial institution such as a bank.

  • Net income: How much of your income you keep after paying your bills.

  • Ticker symbol: One or more letters used to identify an investment such as a stock or mutual fund.

  • Transaction: A financial event that causes money to go into or out of an account. A transaction can also be a charge placed on a credit card.

  • Alerts: Reminders of important financial events. Mint.com can e-mail alerts to you or send them to your cell phone.

  • APR: Short for annual percentage rate. The fee, or interest rate, you pay to borrow money expressed as a yearly percentage.

  • Budget: Limits you place on spending on types of items or categories (see below) so that you reach your financial goals.

  • Categories: Groupings that organize various expenses or income so you can see patterns. If you spend money at McDonald's, for instance, Mint.com would put that transaction into the Food & Dining category.

  • Credit card issuer: The bank or financial institution that gives you a credit card.

  • Credit score: A numerical value used to forecast how likely you are to pay back your debt.

  • Investments: Financial instruments you buy with the hope that your money will grow in the future.

  • Market value: The current value of any assets, including investments, you own.

  • Net Worth: A measurement of your financial standing: What's left of your assets after you subtract your debts.

  • Price paid: How much you paid to acquire an investment, such as a stock or a mutual fund. The price paid is used to determine your profit and any taxes you might owe when you sell the investment for a profit.

  • S&P 500: Short for Standard & Poor's 500. The S&P 500 is a common stock market index that indicates the direction of stocks. Mint.com compares your portfolio to the S&P 500 to see if you're beating or lagging the stock market.

  • Tag: A grouping used by Mint.com to pull together spending in different categories. You might tag spending in the Travel and Food & Dining categories so you can see how much you spent on a vacation.