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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16 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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