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April 01, 2009


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Mint is free.

The advertising is extremely limited, and you have to seek it out. Based on your spending patterns, on the interest you earn on your accounts, on the fees you pay your broker, etc., Mint has "suggestions" on a little bar called "Your Ways to Save" about what you could do differently. So, Mint tells me, for instance, that I might be missing out on $7,827 in savings. If I click on that suggestion, I am taken to a new screen that compares various money market accounts to my money market account. The providers of those other money market accounts are the advertisers, of course. I would have never seen their "advertisements" if I hadn't sought them out.

I have not tried both services. After having used Mint for more than a year, I really can't imagine paying for what Mint does for free, even if it is just 25 or 50 bucks. And I love the fact that Mint is in direct contact with my banks, broker, 401(k), etc. I don't have to rely on me to continually provide updates to the program.

I came across Mint's service through their application I found in iTunes. I downloaded it to my iPhone and tried it out for a couple of months. I was quite impressed at how easy it is to use.

As a multi-decade user of Quicken, I was looking for everything Mint offered; online access to my spending habits and balances. After trying Quicken Online, Yodlee and MoneyStrands, I have remained with Mint.

Other advantages are texting notifications for low balances/budget warnings/weekly balance and the ability to compare your budget by category to others across the US or your home state.

I just can't imagine going back to computer-based personal finance after using Mint.

As to your question of ads, Mint has none in their iPhone app and very minimal ads on their website. In fact, with the way they are presented I would consider them more "suggestions" than outright "ads".

I think point one is underestimated. Mint still requires corrections, and trusting the partial automation without supervising it is pure financial folly. Finding the right balance, as FMF puts it, is essential.

I hate how point two is made by the folks of YNAB, or even that it's a point in general. As they, and FMF, acknowledge, Mint is secure. And it's unqualifiedly true.

But both YNAB and FMF then just turn around and state that you still can't trust them. Based on nothing is ever secure enough. This mentality contributes to a unnecessary acceleration in the spiral of internet threats and defenses. Is the thing secure? Then trust it.

With respect to number three, the ads are not on every page. There is a separate link to them, and the "advertisements" are for financial services that are ranked and sorted in accordance to your preferences. I really think they did a good job in making the advertisements a veritable utility.

On number four, I think YNAB may score. I'm not sure Mint has a real community, or at least I've never seen it. It allows you to compare your numbers to averages in your community, zip code, county, state, and so on, but that's all I've seen.

mint is free & always improving. that's hard to beat.

I can't believe people actually use Mint on their iPhones. I'm not in love with the idea of aggregating that much financial information in one place to begin with, but then toting around the key to it in a small, easily (and frequently) stolen device? That's lunacy.

"Nothing is ever secure enough" isn't paranoia. It's truth, when it comes to certain highly valuable information. Especially when you aren't forced to use the service by some particularly pressing need.

I actually like the Mint's ads!

They are quite useful in determining if you are adequately maxing out your credit card rewards, and have your money in the highest interest accounts. It's fun to play around with the credit card reward bars to see which cards will suit you best.

On a side note, FMF, the AmEx Blue Cash is always number 1 in cash rewards with the Charles Schwab Visa in a close 2nd.

For what it's worth - Mint recommends logging out of your iPhone app at the end of a session (which clears all data) or at least adding a security PIN lock to your iPhone. The built in security PIN lock functionality on an iPhone allows you to clear the device of all user data after a configurable number of incorrect entries.

This does require some proactive user configuration and I freely admit to not following all of the advice, but I love Mint and the iPhone app, while nothing more than a report, is pretty slick and comfortable to have on the spot with you when determining whether or not a purchase fits in a budget.

Mint's advertisements are pretty helpful, IMO. Just like some bloggers will get affiliate commissions on a product/service they endorse.

They compare your account to another account and show you what you can save (e.g. your account @ 1.3% interest vs another account at another bank @ 2.3% interest earns you $x extra per year).

I find that helpful as I can see if I am under performing the market as far as rates on my cc's and savings are concerned.

I am a big fan of Mint even with its downfalls (can't edit cost basis of investments, huge problem).

Regarding Sarah's "lunacy" comment about using Mint's iPhone app, it sounds as if she doesn't have an iPhone with the Mint application on it.

If she had both, she would know that all the Mint app does is DISPLAY account balances, budget status/balances and transactions.

Let me clarify... the Mint app for the iPhone is a reporting tool ONLY. You can't transfer funds, pay bills, etc. It is only a snapshot of your status at that moment.

If my iPhone was stolen, the Mint app would be the least of my worries.

Regarding point one:
This is what I like about Mint. I'm willing to conform a little in the name of automation, but I don't feel like I made many concessions. If I have to maintain anything myself, even if it's just a monthly thing, I will eventually stop doing it. With Mint, I log in occasionally and everything is still chugging along on its own.

Regarding point two:
It's really easy, in Mint, to export your transactions if you want to take it with you to another service or store a backup on your PC. I created a spreadsheet that calculates my Chase Freedom rewards and I sometimes export my credit card transactions into that to try to learn about which merchants count in the higher tier.

Regarding point four:
Mint has a forum that's pretty active. The link to it is not very prominent, but it's there.

Other things I like about Mint:
You can now automatically pull in your home's value (which stays updated by itself using a partner website) so there's not a big hole in your networth calculation anymore. Granted, the accuracy of this number could be debated.

The budget is easy to set up and your progress and overages are very prominantly displayed.

I love the text/email alerts.

I have been able to link to every bank, credit card, mortgage, student loan, and investment account that I have -- even some obscure ones. They weren't always as good, but it seems to be one of their main focuses of improvements.

It looks like everyone before me has the four points addressed pretty well. I'd like to talk about Mint's help forums. Through their forums, they address any FAQ's that people have, have general discussion and money tips, and provide a place for users to learn about new and upcoming features as well as list out any issues they are having with the service. I have suggested a few updates and additional institutions to be added that have since been added. The mint staff is very aware of what is going on in the forums and is good at responding to requests or suggestions. I have been using Mint for over a year and wouldn't leave it, especially for a paid service. With the broad scope of the service Mint provides, it doesn't make sense to pay for any other money management service.

I take issue with Brad saying the Mint staff is good at responding to requests in the forums. That is my one major gripe with Mint... they sometimes leave issues open for months with no update. And in the meantime thread after thread is created with confused customers wondering if Mint is going to respond... and they never do.

Haven't tried YNAB but Mint has been fantastic and has constantly been improving.

Mint does need a few improvements but overall I am very impressed. I check my balances every few days and it motivates me to save more and spend even less. I have put $400-$500 extra each month in savings since I started using Mint. It's like my financial conscience. Seeing my entire portfolio in one place makes it so much easier to stay on top of my finances...I give it an A++!

I have only been using Mint for about a week and love it so far. I love being able to see eveything at once.

One question I do have for anyone using Mint to monitor your spending who also charges expenses to a reward card. Mint logs the expense at the time of the charge (say March 30). If I don't pay the card until April 10, then March's expense is overstated in that category. How do you accurately budget so you don't overspend? Thanks for any input.

I've used both, and I love YNAB. I think it all comes down to what you're using the program for. The number one thing I want in a money management program is the ability to create a good budget, and YNAB beats Mint hands down. Mint is constantly improving, but the YNAB folks have budgeting down perfectly.

Mint is good for seeing everything in one place, but to me, that's secondary to the budget.

My solution? I have both. I check in with YNAB frequently to update and track my budget. Every once in a while I log into Mint to get an overall picture. But I use YNAB far more frequently.

YNAB loses because you need Windows and I'm one of those dirty linux users...

Based on what I know of Mint and Yodlee, there’s very little way I would trust either until these services can use something like OAuth technology when communicating with banks and such. Then I should, if developers on both sides handle things correctly, specify exactly what rights those services have when communicating with my financial institutions. My very limited — read: didn’t put any important accounts in — trial of Yodlee, which Mint uses as its backend, was enough to freak me out because it was logging in with all the same account information I would use.

Giving an online service all of the keys to your financial accounts in this age _is_ lunacy. I don’t know how secure they _say_ they are. That’s just putting too much trust in someone else, rather than the age-old addage of “trust no one.”

I think people are just too used to getting free, attractive stuff from the Web. I’d much rather have a paying relationship with a service like Mint, as a matter of fact, because then it would be more like I’m a customer.

George Y,
If I am reading your post correctly, it sounds like, instead of each charge to your credit card showing up in your budget, you just want the one payment to the card after the statement is cut. The only way I know of to do this is to not download your CC transactions into Mint and just look for the payment out of your checking account. However, I don't look at it in that way. I think of every transaction as either money coming in, money going out, or a transfer between accounts. The monthly credit card payment is a transfer. If I charge a meal at McDonald's this month, it goes on this month's budget regardless of when I actually pay the card back.

YNAB is proactive budgeting--before you spend your money, so you don't overspend. Budget has some budgeting tools, but is much more an after-the-fact reporting tool. Both are useful. But they do two different jobs!

a new fresh review of and ynab 3.5 is needed. Both prodducts have made drastic improvements -- ynab is planning a web/cloud based product which is needed.

Mint is the best program out there for me so far. It's automatic, but I can go in and still set goals, once I have achieved them, I go in and add more. It's the same practice as YNAB, only on mint it's just an option. What I love about mint (besides it being free and automatic) is that it's my entire financial picture in one place, all investment, savings and loans on my phone or computer and accounts are linked to goals. Mint could probably have a better community, but I do enjoy their blog every now and again. YNAB has fantastic educational webinars, etc. that's probably their main advantage over mint.

Mint! No contest. Hands down it is the best AND it is free. It handles all the transactions for you, sends you alerts, gives advice. The advice is from unobtrusive ads. You can set budgets, goals, etc. It is awesome. You cannot beat it... not even a paid product can touch it. I mostly check it from my mobile device and there are no ads at all there. Try it. I did and left Quicken in the dust where it will stay.

Several years ago I tried to try Mint but it would not recognize my Credit Union. I continued to communicate with Mint for over a month but they resisted every attempt to allow me to use their service so I searched and found YNAB ... it's the best thing that ever happened to us. I love YNAB and you couldn't pry it away from me now. Oddly enough my CU now is actively promoting their connection with Mint ... you couldn't make me give up YNAB for Mint.

There is another Finance application/service that you haven't mentioned ... Yodely (not sure I got the spelling right). Oddly enough Yodely claims that they are the source for much of Mint's financial calculations (not sure if that's true or not but it makes Mint's security more questionable).

In objective and function Mint/Yodely and YNAB are opposites ... Mint/Yodely helps people track what they've spent. That's fine if that's what you really need ... YNAB lets you plan your life and then change your life to match the way you want your life to be. Mint/Yodely just isn't the same ... and the security thing of having oue data only on our PC IS VERY IMPORTANT to us.

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