FIRE

The Death of Mint

I have been obsessed with tracking my finances since I moved out of my parent’s house. If you do not know how much money is coming in and how much money is going out, you are going to keep your financial situation the same. Personal finance is about understanding your purchases and not blaming yourself for spending. It doesn’t matter if you spend most of your money on video game purchases or travel, but you need to know how much you can afford to pay and still achieve your goals.

My parents told me never to maintain credit card debt, and I needed to know exactly how much our mortgage would be and how much money my wife would bring in each month. Advisors tell you to max out retirement contributions, but at what cost? How much cash should you have on hand? Can you afford to go to the out-of-town wedding coming up?

I started my budgeting by using Microsoft Money. I would take pictures of receipts and upload them to the app. I even bought hardware to scan receipts to make my life easier. As I was not working for the first few months of our marriage, I could at least control the financial aspects of our lives.

I slowly realized how unnecessary this was for personal finances and learned about Mint. Mint automatically connected to my credit card and bank accounts. It did reasonably well at categorizing the transaction so I could formulate a proper budget.

Mint was a pivotal contributor to my early retirement. I could see how much money was in our investments and how our savings were increasing. I noticed when our spending was too high in a specific category while still allowing us to go on vacations. It was a crucial piece of my financial puzzle. I enjoyed watching my Net Worth grow.

When I learned that Intuit would terminate the project, I wondered how necessary something like this was in my post-career life.

Mint is being shut down and rolled into Credit Karma. They say they will provide the same features as Mint, but I doubt it. Mint provided the service free of charge. Of course, they see all your data and are probably reselling it, but when you’re starting your financial journey, it is a great option. I now have the opportunity to evaluate other products.

My main issue is cost. Although there is a large landscape of personal finance trackers, they all come with a non-trivial monthly fee.

One of the original readily available budgeting software, first available in 2004, is YNAB. I never used YNAB because it originally could only be accessed via PC install. I wanted to check a website. I recently discovered that YNAB started offering an online model in 2015, which is now $99/year.

I found out the original creators of Mint created their product, Monarch Money. It reminds me a lot of Mint and offers an excellent “recurring” tab that provides insight into recurring bills. However, it only identified some of my recurring payments, as I usually avoid monthly payments instead of annual fees. Monarch is also $100/year.

I was interested in Copilot until I realized it was only available for Mac and iPhone. I don’t own an iPhone and still do many things from a browser. It looks like a beautiful and well-designed app, but I’m not paying $95/year for something I will occasionally use.

Next is PocketGuard. I appreciate PocketGuard’s pricing model the most. There’s a free tier and a one-time purchase for a lifetime option. The premium option is $35/year, which is already a third of the cost of most competitors. The free tier is extremely limited for any advanced user. You can only connect two external accounts and are out of luck if you have more than one credit card and bank account. Paying $80 once is not the end of the world.

I just found out that Rocket Money offered a full suite like Mint. I’ve heard about it on Podcast advertisements, but I just assumed it was for tracking recurring subscriptions. It provides everything I wanted, and you can get significant use from their free version. Rocket offers Premium for as little as $48/year. But unfortunately, they do not support Fidelity Investment integration. So much of my money is in Fidelity it makes Rocket a non-option. They also did the shady action of enabling a premium account because I had connected my credit card account, which is not appreciated.

I had never heard of Tiller. And I didn’t even get started without a free trial option or the ability to see what the app offers. $79/year is too much for such a basic-looking application.

I left Empower off the list because I had an account with Personal Capital (previously named) but could not get a password reset to work. If you can’t get a password reset email to work, you can’t get my business.

Conclusion

All options suck. I liked Monarch Money and understand you need to pay for things, but $100/year seems unnecessary. PocketGuard is reasonable, but will I use it? I will try using Fidelity’s Full View, as having one login would be great, and it’s free!

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