*UPDATE* Mint has been acquired by Intuit, the makers of Quicken Online. Read the full story: Mint acquired by Intuit
It’s been a while since I’ve stepped back and looked and how I was keeping track of my personal finances as I’ve just been cruising along using my Quicken 2008 Home and Business on my PC and have been very happy with it.
But I’ve been forced into a decision based on a couple of factors:
1) I spent way too much mine manually entering each transaction in to my Quicken register. Yes, I could have it download all my transactions from various banks, but the transaction descriptions are cryptic and it would mess up my categories and require a whole lot of extra work.
2) I bought a Mac. (Ok it’s a Mac mini, am I still cool?) Yep, I’m a new convert. But not to say I still don’t like PCs, I see both as just a tool, so I’ll use whatever will be more useful and friendly to me. After reading some of the reviews on Quicken for Mac, I was surprised at how crappy everyone said the Mac version was. There might be a ray of hope as Quicken Financial Life For Mac is now scheduled to be released in February of 2010, but I can’t wait that long and it seems that the Quicken for Mac development team has delayed it’s release more than a few times now.
3) I’m tired of the software being tied to a physical computer. I can’t get to it from work. I can’t get to it from a vacation spot. And my wife is tired of trying to get into my PC to enter a few of her own transactions. Her complaints are reasonable: “You moved the icon”, or “I forgot your password” or “your PC is locked up”.
So now I’m looking for a totally online replacement for Quicken desktop version. From what I’ve seen, I’m not going to find anything that completely fits the bill. But there are a couple that will replace some of the core functions that I use daily.
Among the free and popular ones out there are Mint.com and Quicken Online. I’m picking those two since they seem to be the more established players in the online financial management arena. Let’s take look at both.
Pros for Mint.com
- slick, attractive, fast interface. It really is pretty slick. The screen is nicely laid out and it’s easy to navigate.
- tag feature. Easily describe transactions so you can find them later.
- subcategories. This is big. Great for allowing you to make your budget as specific as possible.
- imported my ING Direct nicknames. This was a big time saver as I have bunch of ING Direct Savings accounts.
- split transactions. Another huge feature. You can buy clothes and food at Walmart now right?
- iphone app. Take a quick look at your finances from anywhere.
How does Mint.com make money? Well, as you are tooling around your accounts, they will have links all over for “Ways to Save” such as this:
If you click on each icon, they are basically pitches for various financial products. Whether they will actually save you money is up for you to investigate and decide.
Biggest Gripes about Mint.com
- no manual/upcoming transactions. This is the biggest reason I cannot use Mint.com as a replacement for desktop Quicken.
- no pending transactions. Why can’t they get these as well? Sometimes there are temporary auths that sit out on my account for days before they clear, I don’t want to wait.
So, bottom line:
Mint is cool. Hehe. But it’s merely a planning tool, but no manual transactions make it fall short as a management tool. To be fair, Mint is not trying to be a replacement for Quicken. I merely sucks your transactions from all your accounts, and allows you to see them in one place.
If Mint started supporting manual or upcoming transactions, then I would probably start using it exclusively.
Quicken Online Review
Quicken Online seemed to be the natural place to go next because I was used to Quicken desktop software already, so I assumed that the online version would be similar. The verdict: not so fast. Quicken Online is a good tool, very similar to Mint.com, but no where near the features as it’s PC-bound cousin, Quicken 2009 Deluxe.
Pros for Quicken Online
- manual/upcoming transactions. (that will match when the actual transaction comes in) This is huge. I can enter a check that I’ve written and know that that money is committed.
- iphone app. Sweet.
- clean, navigable interface. Not as slick as Mint’s, but it’s nice and easy to get around.
- what’s left? feature. This is great as soo as you log in, it shows you what’s left in your accounts until your next paycheck.
Here’s a pic of what the Trends screen looks like:
Biggest Gripes about Quicken Online
- adding and maintaining categories is a pain. You have to do it after starting to enter a transaction, then you lose all the info when you decide you need to add a transaction.
- no split transactions. What? This is pretty basic. Should be a standard feature. Again, Walmart sells food and clothes these days, people.
- no pending transactions. Same complaint as with Mint. It may not be possible, but it would be really nice to see transactions that haven cleared yet.
- slow in updating transactions. This box stays up way too long, and you can’t do anything else while it updates. Mint’s updating feature is far less intrusive and you can accomplish other things while it’s updating.
What I’d like to see in Quicken Online
- note field in “Add Upcoming Transaction” Field. Why should I have to go back later after it’s cleared to add a note?
- add more options for repeating time frames. “Every 2 months” would be nice
- subcategories. Again, this should be standard.
- reconcile function. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think I still need to reconcile with my bank statements, right?
Quicken Online just added “Split Transactions” functionality to the transactions. It’s implemented very well and has the Details tab under each transaction, kinda like Mint’s. It looks like they overhauled the entire look and feel of the transaction register. Smooth and functional. Nice job Intuit.
Mint.com is a slick and useful financial analysis tool, and thats it.
Quicken Online is a financial management tool, and can be a replacement for Quicken PC and Mac software. Although it lacks some seemingly basic features like subcategories and split transactions, Quicken Online is sufficient enough for me to move from my PC-based quicken to this fully online version. In fact, if they beefed up the features enough, I’d be willing to pay a couple bucks a month to use it.
PS. There are a bunch of other services out there that do similar things, like Yodlee, Wesabe and Clearcheckbook.com, but Quicken Online easily wins in the functionality department.