A lot of people use the website/app Mint to help them manage their personal finances. Mint is a simple, one-stop shop for people to see the current status of their finances. A user connects their bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments and bills to it. Once connected, Mint can create graphs and other ways to help their users understand their money.
Mint also has a bunch of systems set up to assist their users with their money. It’s like a chikorita using aromatherapy to restore health to a person’s finances. With all of their shell bells and grass whistles, I did not find their aromatherapy helpful and canceled my future appointments.
I tried it for at least three months and did not find it useful to me. Not all of my accounts could connect, there was too much red, my own systems were better for me and I rarely checked it. I am sure it has improved in the past two years, but I think I’m fine without it for the moment.
Not All of My Accounts Connected
I had some student loans and investments that couldn’t connect. It was missing information when it gave me my net worth or my spending reports. Knowing this, I lost trust in the accuracy of their numbers. This same thing happened before with tracking my finances electronically and turned into deep, muddy water. I did not want an encore.
My bank’s website offers a budget section that includes spending reports. When I used it, their spending reports tracked my money going from my checking to my savings as both income and spending. This double hit caused my income to be higher than it actually was, and smoke screened what I was actually spending. I stopped trusting their numbers and eventually became oblivious to them. This side effect string shot my potential understanding of my personal finances and aided my crash in 2013.
Too Much Red
Red is known as a very passionate color with a lot of meanings in many different situations. When I saw it illustrating my net worth and accounts I read it as meaning bad. It felt like Mint was telling me that I was doing a bad job managing my finances. After reviving my budget and starting to work on my debt, this was unwelcomed discouragement. My net worth is neither inherently good nor bad. It is not a reflection of me or how I handle money. It is a tool to measure growth. The growth of these numbers is just like the electrical charges of plusle and minun, positive or negative.
When I write up my net worth for my monthly reviews, I like to use plusle red, a soft pink, and minun blue. I feel they illustrate the growth while not implying good or bad. I prefer to see positive growth, but negative growth is a natural part of the process. Plusle and minun help remind me that to keep me grounded.
My System Worked Better
Although it could have been a great tool, Mint couldn’t compare to what I was already doing. I didn’t need its alerts. One alert let me know my checking account was low. I already knew that since I was purposely keeping it low to stop me from spending it. I also didn’t need the bill alerts. When I started my new budget, I found the sweet kiss paycheck for each bill which was always ideally before the bill was due and after the statement was issued.
Mint’s budget tool reminded me of my banks budget tool by basing itself off my spending habits and setting spending limits. I knew I did not work well with these types of budgets. I already had a successful budget based on my bills that told me how, where and when to spend my money.
When I couldn’t connect some of my accounts, I still had to update my notebooks and spreadsheets. Whenever I wanted a real clear picture of my net worth, my own paperwork had to defog the information from Mint.
Mint did give me a handful of useful tips, but I was getting better tips from the blogs I was reading. Rockstar Finance’s daily collection of the best personal finance posts was continually introducing me to new blogs and ideas. Last weekend, Rockstar Finance launched a blog post ticker that shows any post published within the last 24 hours from any of the 1000+ personal finance blogs in their Personal Finance Blogdex. Rockstar Finance’s Blogdex has the basic stats on every blog, and it will even show you their most recent posts if you click on the author’s name.
I rarely checked it
Being hands-on with my finances encourages me to continue watching them. I like reading my statements, making notations in my notebooks and occasionally xatuing my progress. By being a part of it, I feel like I can control what my money is doing. It is the main reason I am not a fan of autopay. Although I know when an auto payment will be made, I don’t feel the same control because I am not the one submitting the payment.
Mint was created to do all the quick footwork for me. It KO’ed my sense of participation with my personal finances. Pokémon daycares generally do the same for training pokémon. I continued my own training and eventually forgot I even had a Mint account.
I stopped checking on Mint since the information I needed I already had somewhere else. Soon after, my only reminders of the account were an occasional e-mail. When I saw the e-mails, I would think, “I need to close that account.” I wasn’t using it and it wasn’t worth having a truant account connected to all of my accounts. Although Mint is super secure, I didn’t want them to get hacked and to lose money from my accounts. Even though there’s not much money to steal, hackers can still overdraw my accounts. The banks also don’t care because I gave Mint, a third party, permission and login information to those accounts.
Although Mint left a bad taste in my mouth, it is an extremely useful tool for thousands of people. Personal Capital and You Need A Budget (YNAB) are two alternatives to Mint that I have heard many great things about. I have researched both of services, but I feel like they just don’t work for me right now. That’s the important thing I have to remember about personal finances, they’re personal and we have to do what works for us.
Let's Chat: Do you use Mint, Personal Capital or YNAB? If you do, what do you like about it? If you don't, why do you choose not to?
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