Ask the grumpies: Alternatives to mint?

Linda asks:

I decided yesterday that I need to give up on Mint so I’m looking at replacements. I don’t really need a “budgeting” app. I use Mint mainly to track my spending, look at trends/patterns so I can make adjustments as needed to meet goals, and export reports for taxes. Doing some searches has led me to CountAbout as an option. It’s not free, and it seems that in order to get the automatic downloading of account data you have to pay $39.99 a year.

What do Grumpy Nation folks use? I’m open for suggestions.

The reason I’m giving up on Mint is that it simply will not connect to my mortgage or Ally Cashback credit card. I just get vague messages about security, although I can’t understand why there are problems since the security on these accounts don’t seem very different than others. I’ve tried their customer service chat more than once, and each time has ended with a “I’m sorry it’s not working” message. Ugh! These aren’t tiny financial institutions, and they are pulled up in the Add Account drop down, so some people must be able to get their accounts synced. I’m so tired of entering these transactions manually as “cash” transactions. people seem to like YNAB and Quicken, but that’s budgeting.  Leigh has programmed her own software.

#1 uses Mint, but not that carefully since it also usually doesn’t connect to one of her credit cards (despite working with her DH’s credit card from the same company) and doesn’t at all connect with her credit union.  We download all the tax stuff individually in February and just don’t pay that much attention otherwise.

#2 doesn’t use any program.

Grumpy Nation, surely you have better advice for Linda!  What software do you use to get your spending information all in one place, if any?

14 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Alternatives to mint?”

  1. Leah Says:

    “we” use personal capital. Can’t say too much about it, as my husband is in charge of that part of our finances, but he really likes it. That’s what the FrugalWoods use too, tho I’m not quickly seeing a post simply about their experience with it.

  2. First Gen American Says:

    I may be old fashioned but I have always just used an old fashioned spreadsheet. I use my credit card for most of my purchases so the lion’s share of my spending can be traced through a download into excel. I do have 2 credit cards, one for home repairs and one for everything else as this makes it easier to track capital improvements on the home.

    However, I’m almost done with my mortgage and have no other debts, so my financial life is pretty simple to most in comparison, so a single excel spreadsheet is all I need. I also did a quality role in previous life so I’m pretty proficient in many of the advanced features in excel, so I can graph things, make trend lines, etc.

    I just don’t like having a 3rd party able to access my bank accounts unless it’s absolutely necessary. I know these things are secure, but it’s one less thing to worry about.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Same here. I tried Mint, but they can’t access everything, and I could never tweak their categories to my liking. So now I just enter all my purchases, not just the totals, in my own spreadsheets, and I can make my own categories.

      Entering all purchases by hand does take time, but I don’t buy that much and I like that the interface changes only when I want it to and I can make exactly the graphs I want to make. I’m sick to death of relying on companies for electronic things because I like ownership and they like rental. So, I still buy DVDs, for example.

      I also update net worth by hand each month, looking into my savings and investment accounts and looking at zillow (and my latest tax estimate) for my house value.

      Probably I have not thought of all the cool graphs that everyone else likes. What are your favorites? I have (for the current year only):
      * Total actual spending by month
      * Total lifestyle spending by month (savings for annual purchases rather than actual spending, so things like property taxes show up spread out instead of as spikes)
      * Income by month
      * 4% (divided by 12) of my investments per month (per “Your Money or Your Life”)
      * Pie graphs showing current percentages of retirement income coming from different resources–with and without Social Security
      * net worth by month
      (And for as far back as possible):
      * net worth by year

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I mainly just do spending by month and spending categories, mostly bar charts over time with the occasional pie. For income and savings I have numbers, not charts.

  3. Katherine Says:

    I have zero personal experience, but I just read about the Wally app for tracking expenses. It sounds promising.

  4. Katherine Says:

    We use the most basic version of Quicken. I used to like the 2013 version just fine, but then it essentially expired – as I understand it, each version will only let you download transactions for 3 years and then you have to buy the new version. I don’t like the new version at all. It forced me to create an online Intuit account, and now it sends me emails about my spending. I am pretty sure I set it to not automatically download transactions (I manually enter my passwords each time I want it to download transactions to my computer), and yet it sends these emails. It makes me really uncomfortable, as I would prefer that my information just be on my local computer and not stored on some server somewhere that I didn’t consent to.

    I am sort of interested in changing, but inertia is strong and I don’t know what would be better. I am mainly interested in tracking, not budgeting. I am willing to pay a nominal fee to retain some semblance of privacy and control over my financial information.

  5. Linda Says:

    I’ve tried Personal Capital. While it has pretty graphs it has the same issues as Mint: it won’t connect to all of my accounts, including my mortgage lender. That’s a pretty big part of my financial picture. I also was annoyed by their continued hounding of me to sign up for their investment advice despite already talking to them about how I don’t have the minimum amount to invest ($10k). [I will not put my EF in the stock market. Nope.]

    After getting really amazing customer service from Count About I decided to spring the extra money for them and I’ve been happy with it. If I want to use all the features I have to learn a whole new interface and way of interacting with my money, though. I think it is more Quicken like, and I’ve never used Quicken. I’ve never reconciled balances and so forth. Mint is simply transaction based and doesn’t require that.

    Pretty soon I’m going to delete my Mint account. I’ll still leave the Personal Capital account open for a while as I evaluate whether I can find some use for the pretty graphs. But I don’t want to be updating categories/tags/details for transactions in more than one tool for long.

  6. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Like #2,I don’t use software to keep track of my finances. When I was younger I was diligent about keeping my checkbook always balanced, but now I just check my statements each month for transactions I don’t recognize. I have most of my recurring bills on autopay, as well as automatic transfers to savings and to my son’s account for his allowance, and my income is significantly larger than my expenditures, so I really don’t need to know my finances in the sort of detail that the programs supposedly help with. About once a year I check my retirement funds and decide not to rebalance them between stocks and bonds. I did move to a bunch of socially responsible stock funds a couple of years ago, when the university decided to move some of my funds with them into a new fund without asking for permission first—it was not an appropriate investment vehicle for me.

  7. chacha1 Says:

    I am no help, I do everything manually into Quicken. We have to discuss (again) doing links for auto download. I would rather the DH just simplify his accounts, because he’s got way more than he needs or really can keep track of, and me playing catch-up once a year is both annoying and non-optimal in terms of Household Financial Management.

    We both balance our checkbooks diligently, but I have a budget and he doesn’t.

  8. HS Says:

    We use ‘Prosper Daily’. It’s a nice app, that connects to all our accounts, and shows the spending by categories (that you can modify). Also shows comparisons to previous months etc’

  9. SP Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, all of these apps/sites use Yodlee as the backend – so if one has issues with connecting to your account, it is unlikely (but not impossible) switching to a different front end interface will help for a site that automatically aggregates.

    They do differ in the interfaces though, and maybe some have ways to manually adjust transactions that do or don’t appear how you want. I gave up on Mint / Yodlee for similar reasons, and because it doesn’t really have a good concept for yearly budgeting vs monthly (at the time i gave up). I use a custom spreadsheets, but I do use Yodlee directly to aggregate the transactions it is capable of.

  10. the Viking Diva Says:

    Check out Moneydance. Buy once, no annual fee. Your data do not live online.

  11. Linda Says:

    From the comments it seems a lot of people don’t want their info in the Cloud. I don’t have any concerns about that. I don’t think it makes me any less “safe” to have my financial data aggregated by a third party; to me it seems like most data thieves are focusing on point of sale data, not bank account information.

    My main reasons to use this tool is to track and monitor my transactions and spending categories. I use a spreadsheet to set up my budget categories/targets, and the automated, online tracking software helps me monitor my actual spending and determine if or where I need to make adjustments in my habits or my budget.

    SP is correct that most of these systems use Yodlee as a back end. What I’ve been finding is that the customer service is a big differentiator, though. Mint has very poor customer service. They weren’t addressing the issues I had linking my accounts at all. It’s not as if the bank where I had my mortgage was a small, local one. When I first started using Mint I couldn’t get it to link to my credit union account, but since I wasn’t using that account for major banking I didn’t worry about it. The mortgage is a big deal to me, though.

    So far Count About is working for me and their customer service has been outstanding. I get replies to my questions/issues within an hour, even on weekends. I’ve paid for a year of service and will keep using them for that period, at least.

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