Quicken or Mint.com?

Quicken vs MintKJ: For me, the answer isn’t “OR” it is “AND.” I actually use both Quicken and Mint.com to track my personal finances (so it’s less a Quicken vs Mint type of mindset). While some might consider it excessive, I like both systems for different reasons. With Mint.com being a free personal finance software and Quicken being a paid version, how do you decide between which money management software is right for your situation? Consider the following:

Why Mint.com?
1) It’s free!
2) It has a much more robust budgeting tool to help manage my wife and I’s day-to-day expenses to see if we are meeting our savings targets we have set. With the interactive charts and instant connectivity, you can know where you stand at any moment of the month.
3) It has the same bank-level encryption on their servers that many of the top banks use (Chase, Bank of America, etc.), plus you DO NOT have the ability to move money or effect transactions between your accounts on Mint.com since the data it pulls is only transactions and holdings information (in the case of investment and retirement accounts).
4) Access it on the go: download their iPad, iPhone, or Android apps.

Why Quicken?
1) It is better at tracking historical data. I actually started using Quicken in the first year of college, and I have maintained it since, so it has been a great reference to show longer-term trends in net worth, income, and expenses. Plus, when I categorize the transactions, there isn’t a fear that Mint.com (or another tool) will update their coding and accidentally change your transactions.
2) The data is located on your own computer, so it is at your discretion how often to backup and how to secure your own data instead of leaving that up to a third party.
3) Charts, reports, and tags to transactions are much more customizable.
4) It works for almost all asset and loan types.

The negatives:
1) You have to be at your computer to access Quicken (not necessarily true for their new 2013 cloud capabilities).
2) Mint.com does not have the ability to add “manual” accounts like Quicken does. Sure, you can setup assets/loans with values you update, but you can’t add any transactions for that account. In essence, if you have an account or loan that is at a small bank, you may not be able to link it to track expenses.
3) Many of the more robust charts require the use of Flash, so using on an Apple product can be troublesome (or impossible without a little technical expertise).
3) It takes time. No one said managing your finances was easy, but it’s certainly better (and cheaper) than the alternative of letting it go by the wayside!

Regardless, of your personal finance system, use a different username and password than what you use to connect directly to your bank accounts and financial institutions. You can never be too secure when it comes to safeguarding your personal and financial information!

AJ: Mint.com was a personal finance management game changer for me. I can access it from my phone, iPad or computer and have a relatively similar experience in all places. It helps by categorizing transactions for me with little error which saves me time and effort. While I appreciate the transaction-level itemization that Kirby gains from Quicken, it is not as beneficial for my day-to-day finance management. It truly is all about what you hope to gain from a management tool and how you think you will use it. Thankfully, Mint.com is free, so start with a free option with no barrier to entry and see how you feel about the overall experience. If you feel like you could use even more line-item detail, look into Quicken.

What works for you?

    Do you use Quicken or Mint.com?
    What simple money management programs do you use?
    Is there perhaps another method you prefer?

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22 thoughts on “Quicken or Mint.com?

  1. I want to commend…not comment, but commend, that each of you sharing what works for you and why is helpful. This reminds and helps us realize the possibilities for better self management in our own relationships can come in different ways for each person in the relationship.

  2. I love Mint.com and I use it every day. I had tried Quicken in the past along with Microsoft Money, etc. Ever since I found Mint.com, I’ve been using it exclusively. Along with Mint.com I also use an excel spreadsheet. I especially like Mint.com for the Budgeting, Trending and Reporting options. These features alone have helped me to set a better budget and even “find my own money!” Yup, by looking at the trending reports, I was able to see, in pie chart form, how much I was spending unwisely and have been able to reallocate it better.

    I love Mint.com and think it great to use. I also love your article above along with your personal touch, from both of you. Great post and I look forward to future posts as well!

    • Angela and I swear by Mint.com! It has helped us so much over the years to be able to stay on top of our spending month-to-month in such an easy way. I’m not sure how people get by without using a system like this…if you don’t know what’s coming in the door and what’s going out, then you can’t keep up with the unexpected expenses that come up!

  3. I find that Quicken is much more useful than Mint.com for tracking tax deductible expenses and generating reports at tax time.

    • Yeah, Quicken is a much better program for tracking those types of items and for having a good system to reference after-the-fact for your tax records. Mint.com can be good to help create tags for transactions, but it is just lacking in the department of backing up your data or having near as many ways to slice and dice the reporting to isolate certain transactions like that.

  4. I have used MInt and am now frustrated as loan payments are not all being credited to a loan balance. Out of 10 payments only 2 show up when I check on the loan. All payments are posted exactly the same so why, I don’t know. This (plus other confusing discrepancies such as double posting) was enough to get me to stop entering my info on Mint and now I am trying to find what to use.

    • Cindy, that’s a great point. One of the limitations of Mint.com is that it is not a double entry accounting system. If you do a transfer from one account or post a loan payment from one account, it doesn’t update the other account. You would have to have a login to the other receiving account for it to update properly and reflect the other side of the transaction, so there can sometimes be a delay for when payments are deducted from a loan. Also, there are some double posting issues (particularly if something gets caught in “pending” status yet also gets cleared), so we just keep checking and delete (or mark as duplicate) any ones that are showing up twice.

      You might try checking out Quicken, as that may better fit your needs since it allows you to actually tie a transaction TO or FROM another account/institution. Also, there are a couple other online budgeting tools that are available that you might consider: YNAB and Yodlee. No system is perfect, so it just takes a while to find the “right” system for you and your needs.

      • It was especially confusing as I have both accounts on Mint with passwords to update the balances etc. I am not comfortable now that I don’t trust Mint. Quicken has so many choices and some have bad reviews that I feel overwhelmed and procrastinate in response.
        I am trying to keep track of checking, savings,credit card, car loan, HSA, retirements, maybe list of life insurance. I may be asking too much?

        • Cindy, I would be interested to hear more about what it is about Mint.com that you don’t trust. For Quicken, I find that just the basic, cheapest version works best. It gets us what we need to be able to track all of our accounts and transactions in one place. If neither of those work for you, you might try YNAB or Yodlee to see if they may be a better fit for what you are looking for.

  5. I have been jumping back and forth between both of these and just haven’t found the perfect fit. One thing that haven’t seen mentioned on the Quicken side is its ability to keep track of your bills and with a few clicks enter that information into the register. Mint doesn’t do that super well. This allows me to quickly see how much money I have left after all bills have been paid. Entry in Mint is a little more time consuming.

    • Yeah, that is definitely a plus for Quicken and a minus for Mint.com. Quicken is much better for scheduling (and paying) bills before they come due. Mint.com also doesn’t have the ability to create manual accounts with their own transactions like Quicken does, so if the institution you are searching for isn’t part of their connections, then you are very limited in what you can do to track a balance.

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  9. I have been using Quicken for 4 years and for months now, I am debating if I should switch to Mint. The reason I wanted to change is because my wife, who is great in EVERYTHING except financial stuff… We are so busy raising a family, that by the time we sit down to go thru all the credit card purchases once in two weeks no one remembers what. So I was looking for a good program to be able to APPROVE so to speak purchases on the go. We figured that Mint will be very good for it.

    I decided to upgrade to Quicken 2014 and stay away from Mint for the following reasons:

    1) In Mint, you can’t enter future transactions. No you can’t. You can enter pending transactions but not future as in FUTURE. We just got a new exercise machine form Sears. We have zero interest payments if paid off in 12 months. I divided the purchase price in equal 12 payments in it comes out to $72.50 each (after our down payment). In my online banking I set up future payments to go out of our bank automatically. This is VERY important with most of these interest free purchases, because if you miss just one payment you have to pay full interest from the original purchase date. So what is the problem? I need to budget and know how much money will be in the bank by the end of the month… If you are single and only use your debit or credit card, than Mint might be for you. But if you have lots of future payments like us, we need Quicken. We pay in advance our mortgage, kids tuition, utilities, etc.

    2) Quicken is much better handling actual checks than Mint.

    3) Quicken will give you a running balance, Mint does not (for now).

    4) With Quicken you can do a bank reconciliation, which really was not an issue for me. A bank reconciliation is just to make sure your bank matches your books. But if you are up to date with Mint, there is no need to do a bank reconciliation. The only other reason would be to check for fraudlent charges, etc. But for that you can just use tags in Mint. I added a tag called “Approved”. On every charge, we select the “Approved” tag. If for any reason we don’t want to approve it (fraud, wand to dispute, etc), we don’t approve it. Than we can make a search “-tag:approved” (or any tag you choose) and it will only show transactions that are not tagged as approved.

    By the way, we also tried Yoddle Money Manager, also free AND it lets you enter future transactions and it has a running balance. But, it was a bit cumbersome, not always working as expected, changes in the expense category were not save, etc. It is also a great product with these two added features that Mint does not have (future transactions and running balance).
    With the new app for Quicken 2014, I believe it will take care of our finances. I will try to report back after we upgrade and used it for a while.

    Sorry for such a long post, but to sum it up, Mint is a great program and it is free, but it does not work for us. As with everything else, nothing in life is everything for everyone.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences! Mint.com isn’t for everyone, and you do make some great points about the limitations of each system (Quicken vs. Mint.com vs. Yodlee). One thing that can be done for future transactions on Mint.com is you could enter some “cash” transactions that occur at some date in the future (i.e. say the first of the month), so when it gets to that month, it will already show in your expenses. Then, when the charge occurs on your card and clears, then you can delete the “cash” transaction and just have the actual expense on the list of transactions. We do this occasionally for those one-off accounts that may not be able to connect to Mint.com, yet still want to include the expense in our monthly cash flow.

      You make a good point that Mint.com is very poor at actual bill payment and management, so Quicken is a much better system for actually scheduling and making payments.

      For the interest free payments you are discussing, you can actually build that into your budgets in Mint.com and reduce your “Everything Else” budget for months that it occurs, and then go in and remove that expense category when it is done being paid off.

      We personally use both (Mint.com on a regular basis, and we periodically keep up with Quicken for historical purposes), but they both have their own purpose. We also find ourselves (well, mostly Angela!) keeping pen & paper itemizations of things that are pending for the month, so we can keep up with the discretionary expenses each month that are pending by planning ahead and getting it listed (and crossing it off or actualizing the expense when it does clear).

      That is also a great point too in that Mint.com doesn’t have a running balance for transactions – that would certainly be a useful feature in the future!

      • Thank you for your input, your entire blog (which I just discovered yesterday, it’s great!!!) and your reply.

        I just wanted to follow up on Quicken 2014. I just installed it late yesterday afternoon. It is much better than I tough. I am a bit old fashioned (my first computer was a Dos that already had 2 floppy drives, not one… they were the flimsy 5-1/4 ones). But I try to change with the times. I do like to add my transactions in advance. For example, if I get my utility bill and it is only due next month on the tenth, I will go into my online banking (for now, I don’t use Quicken for it) and enter a future bill pay for the ninth (if they are listed in my banks payees with the option of 1 day delivery, otherwise of course, it has to be much earlier). Now… This is like 20 days from now. How will I remember? Of course, in Quicken, you just enter the transaction now with a future day AND you have a running balance. This is all before even looking at the budget forecasting part.

        Also, my issue with Mint (and that is my issue, not a problem for all people) is that I don’t want Mint to just import all my transactions. Because if, like most of us, I had a busy week and did not have time to look at each transaction, I don’t want anything I don’t know what it is to just get into my register. Case in point, we recently had a more than $500 transaction from Nordstram that was not ours. It was on our debit card, not credit and the bank told us that it was a “Swiped” transaction which means someone created a full card with our info.

        So… in the past, I entered all transactions manually from the bank (not the statement, I checked online every few days). Now what I did, is import all transactions, but using the new feature that I can approve them. This works very good for me! All a Quicken user needs to do is import (or sync) with his/her bank accounts every few days (or every day, or every hour, or from your app, etc) and approve each transaction as new, match it to a transaction already posted manually by you, or just leave the option checked to import them automatically.

        • Thank you for sharing! We are so glad you like our blog, and we hope you continue to share your experiences as well as pass on the word to others!

          Great example of how there isn’t such a thing as a one-size-fits-all for budgeting and financial planning needs. Glad to hear your system is working well to stay on top of all of your expenses. The key is to just find the method that works best for your lifestyle, so you can catch wrong transactions (either a wrong transaction entirely or a wrong amount of a transaction) as well as keep up with your household cash flow!

          • I hope I don’t sound like a broken record player by now having commented so much, but I would like to add one more thing.

            That is sure that the future is in the cloud. So how can you use Quicken with the cloud? here is what I just posted on the Quicken blog:

            How to run Quicken 2014 on more than one computer including the Microsoft Surface Pro 2.

            I just upgraded from Quicken 2011 to Quicken 2014 and I am very VERY happy. Lots of new features including storing receipts and warranties to all your purchases either form the desktop or from the new mobile app. Another very important new feature for me is having the ability to approve and/or match new transaction from your bank to transaction you already entered.

            I had tried Mint, Yoddle Money Manager and more of the new online money management and financial software out there and I came to the conclusion that Quicken beats them all for lots of reason. One of them is the ability to enter future transactions way ahead. You also get a running balance that you don’t get on Mint. You do get it on Yoddle Money Manager, but it has other limitation.

            Now, on how to use it on two computers. I installed the software on my office desktop and also on my Surface Pro 2. You can install Quicken on up to two computers per the user agreement. Then, I save the Data file in the cloud using Dropbox. I just have a folder called Quicken and inside that folder I have the data file. You can also use other cloud services like Google Drive. But I like Dropbox because in my experience it syncs right away after closing the file. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you always work on an updated file. This means to make sure you have the latest data file on both computers. In other works, that the Quicken folder is sync. The way I do this, I make sure after closing Quicken lets say on my Surface Pro that the little green check on the Dropbox icon gets blue and then green again. Like this I know that the file synced to the cloud. Then when I open it on my desktop computer, I make sure the file has the date on it on what I worked on the Surface.

            I have been doing this for a few years (before the Surface, I did it with my Dell notebook computer and my office desktop computer) and it works very good for me.

            • I think you bring up a good point too on the Quicken vs mint discussion with the new functionality that is available for the Quicken 2014 version. You now have the ability to take a photo snapshot of your receipts and load them into Quicken. One more reason to potentially help sway someone in their decision of Mint versus quicken since it may allow you to get rid of those pesky receipts once and for all!

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