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These days there is no longer any excuse for not staying on top of your personal finances. Launched in 2006, Mint.com ushered in a new era of web-based, real-time financial management tools with its free and user-friendly personal finance platform. With over 20 million users, Mint.com is the dominant personal finance platform, and it set the standard by which all other personal finance software programs are compared. In 2009, Mint was acquired by Intuit, the maker of Quicken and TurboTax.
With Mint.com, there is no software to download. It can be accessed with any browser or mobile device. Once you set up an account, you are just minutes away from viewing all of your financial data and transactions in one place. The Mint platform syncs with nearly every financial institution that is connected to the Internet. With your authorization, it will link to your bank, credit card, mortgage, investment, and retirement accounts. When logging in, Mint syncs all of the data available in your accounts, so you are always viewing them in real-time.
Mint automatically categorizes all your transactions, making it very easy to set up your budget. You can create savings and spending goals by category which Mint will then track for you. You will see how your spending is tracking with your goals. Whether your goal is to pay off credit card debt or save for a down payment on a home, Mint will track your progress towards each goal. New to Mint is a credit monitoring service which is also free.
While Mint is considered the preeminent budgeting and tracking tool, it falls short for users who want to manage their investments. If tracking and managing your investment accounts is important to you, consider Quicken or Personal Capital. Also, Mint’s reporting capabilities are inferior when compared to Quicken, Personal Capital, and CountAbout.
4 Mint Alternatives
Comparing Mint With Quicken
Mint and Quicken attract very different types of users which is why Intuit purchased Mint. But then, in 2017, Intuit sold Quicken to a private equity firm. For 25 years, Quicken has been the gold standard for personal finance software; however, in recent years, its features and functionality have become somewhat dated. At a cost of $39 to $119, it doesn’t take much to convince a user to try a free service like Mint or Personal Capital.
There are still millions of diehard Quicken users who love to hate it, but they stick with it because it is easy to use, has more comprehensive features than other personal finance apps, and has a higher capacity to download and store data. The problem is all of that is only available on its desk software program. If you want to manage your finances on a mobile device, you will have to purchase its mobile app and potentially grow frustrated with its limited functionality. Although the latest version of Quicken includes several updated features including improvements to its mobile app and a redesigned interface, Quicken users still complain about its lackluster customer service and periodic bugs with synchronization.
Comparing Mint With Personal Capital
Personal Capital has been described as Mint.com on steroids. Interestingly, it was founded by the former CEO of Inuit, Bill Harris, just a year after Intuit bought Mint. However, Harris left Intuit well before then. Personal Capital actually has two separate platforms – a free, DIY personal finance platform similar to Mint and a wealth management service that charges a fee for investment advice. On its personal finance platform, you set up a free account and then add however many personal accounts you need. Once your accounts are added, Personal Capital does all of the work of syncing up the accounts and downloading the data for your use. It then provides you with what it calls a “360° View of Your Financial Life.”
While it includes most of the budget and tracking capabilities of Mint, users may find it slightly more cumbersome to use. Plus, you can’t use its spending tool, which is a very good feature, on its mobile app. However, it does have reporting capabilities which Mint does not.
Comparing Mint With CountAbout
Of the Mint alternatives discussed here, CountAbout might be considered its most direct competitor. That’s because it is strong in the budgeting area while lacking in the investment management area. But, since it charges an annual subscription fee ($9 for basic and $39 for premium), you will have to look hard to find reasons not to simply go with the free Mint app. CountAbout does have one distinguishing feature, an ability to import all your financial data from Quicken or Mint. So, if you have a reason to leave Mint, CountAbout will make it easy to pick up where you left off.
Like Mint, CountAbout does a terrific job of syncing your financial data and organizing your transactions into categories, but this is available if you pay for the premium service. It also analyzes your spending habits and tracks where you are in relation to your spending limits similar to Mint. The one advantage it has over Mint is the ease in editing and managing categories. Mint’s top line categories are predetermined, but with CountAbout you can change them to suit your needs.
Although CountAbout does support the downloading of data from investment accounts, you can’t do much with the information. You can see your balances but not individual transactions.
In conclusion, Mint offers similar features and functionality as CountAbout at a better price – free!
Comparing Mint With You Need a Budget (YNAB)
If all you need is a straight up budgeting tool to help you pay down debt or save more money, YNAB may be your best option. Created by CPAs, YNAB is a no-nonsense budget app that helps people deal with their financial inadequacies and get control of their finances. In addition to budget monitoring and management functions, YNAB offers real-life guidance in the form of a resource-rich blog and a very active forum. There are several downloadable and video guides on budgeting, debt management, and principles to follow in becoming smarter about money management. You can even team up with a budget partner to support and hold each other accountable.
Until recently, YNAB was only available as a desktop software program. It is now available as a fully web-based mobile app with fully automatic synchronization of your financial accounts.
YNAB charges $50 a year for its service which may seem like an unnecessary expense compared to Mint; except, the real value with YNAB is in its educational resources and guidance. For people who need to focus on getting control of their finances, it can be invaluable. New users can try YNAB free for two months.
Author: Jeff Gitlen