Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Minty Fresh Finances: MS Money vs. Mint.com



Have you heard of the (kinda) new website Mint.com? It's a free money management website/software that stores everything online. You don't actually download any software to your computer. I have been using Microsoft Money for the past four years and while they store all your data for you, and you can access it it from anywhere, you still have to pay for and download the software in order to use your data. Mint does it differently.


You can enter the log-in information for all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans & debts and Mint will track everything for you. They hook up to your bank and update transactions every time you log in. You can make a budget, track spending, and work towards financial goals. If you haven't ever used personal financial software, Mint is a great place to start. If you don't have a budget and have no idea about your spending - Mint is a must!


But if you have used Microsoft Money, Quicken, etc. then you might find Mint a little lacking. Here are some of the problems I've found so far. You can not delete transactions. You can't track cash, aka enter your own transacations. You can't enter negative numbers. Which means if you return something and purchase other items in the same transaction you would need to split it and put the return part as negative. Mint can't do it and will just put it as a positive transaction, which messes you up double. And since you can't delete a transaction... hopefully you feel my frustration. I noticed these minor (but very annoying) problems by using Mint less than 10 times, and spent a couple hours on the message boards to find that they are all shortcomings of Mint, rather than user error by moi.


In light of these issues, I decided to purchase Microsoft Money Plus. When my laptop went kaput I lost the 2005 version of Money that I had been using. Even though I actually still had the CD, it didn't work well with Windows Vista on my new desktop so I researched the newer version, Money Plus, online. I decided I could get by with the Essential version for only $20 and downloaded it last night, only to find it can't do half the things I am used to. Argh!


I knew I was in for hours of telephone time, if I could even find a telephone number, explaining what happened and begging for the upgrade to Money Plus Deluxe. It took 5 minutes to find a phone number, 3 calls/transfers to find the right department (5 minutes in total) and about 5 seconds for the very helpful agent to give me my refund. On downloaded software! They just had me answer two release questions, promising to delete the software and downloads and not use them anymore or share them with anyone. Then the agent helped me purchase the Deluxe version for $40 and I had it installed 20 minutes later. Can you believe actual customer service from a giant like Microsoft? Well, it was actually Digital River, who runs all their downloadable products, but still - hooray for Microsoft for subbing to a good company.


I can finally catch up with our budget and finances - just in time for the freefall market, plummeting stocks, and major recession. We are feeling a tiny bit secure for now, but I'm glad to have my trusty computer and Money Deluxe to help me with our budget and (try to) control our my spending.


In review, Mint doesn't quite work for me, but it might work for you. And Microsoft comes through for me with Money Plus Deluxe. For other Works For Me Wednesday tips check out Rocks in My Dryer.

16 comments:

Becky said...

Thanks for the tips. I hate budgeting but have been tracking our spending closely with a spreadsheet for the past four months. I made to graduate to something more sophisticated soon.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I've used Quicken and Mint.com, but what I REALLY need is something that starts giving me alerts and holding my wallet hostage when I approach the limits of my own budget. Apparently they don't make or I have not mastered the features yet of software that makes you disciplined and doesn't just show you the red numbers after you already messed up.

Sherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry said...

I've never heard of Mint. I use Money, but mine is a 2004 version. Guess I need to update! LOL! :D Thank you for the tip!

Happy WFMW!

Sherry

ames said...

I've heard of Mint before but never looked in to it. Given the shortcomings you encountered I'm not so sure I'll like it, but who knows? Thanks for the very well-thought-out review!

The Messy Mom said...

My husband does our finances, he LOVES mint.

kristine said...

i've never heard of this site before. thanks for the tip!

LessLisa said...

It looks like great software, but I'm not very comfortable entering my username and passwords for my bank accounts and credit cards on there. Have you ever had any trouble?

tarable said...

lesslisa, I haven't had any problems before. Mint has been written up in many major news periodicals and the various banks/ lenders let Mint pull account information. They've been around for a while too & no problems with security.

My husband works in information security & is kind of a security nut. And he's the one who researched Mint and wanted me to try it out.

~~tonya~~ said...

TFS--I will check it out.

Momof3 said...

Never heard of Mint before. Thanks for the tips and your thoughts on the program.

Chel - An Abiding Branch said...

Hi there, I have never heard of mint prior to this post either. I was very glad to hear that microsoft's service worked for you! That is awesome! I know I have had my own issues and I would not call for the fear of being trapped or having to tell someone what I had done so they would not have me repeat it. ARG! Thanks for sharing.
Chel

mom_of2boys said...

Thanks for sharing the information. I hadn't heard of it before reading your post.

George said...

Thanks. I found your review helpful to learn more about Mint.com .

Since I blog about identity theft and corporate responsibility, I looked more closely at Mint.com and reviewed the site's data security issues in a recent post.

George
Editor
http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com

Dennis said...

Thanks for the review. Been using money for 10+ years but was curious about Mint. Sounds like it's great if you have nothing else but I live by Money's cash flow analysis and I'm sure mint isn't going to cut it in that department either.