Saturday, November 19, 2011
Mint = Fail
Before this year, I kept my monthly budget on a whiteboard, writing in expenses as they came up, and keeping a running total on the wall, where it was easy to see. The downside of this system was that it was difficult to track expenses over time. Lots of PF bloggers had nice things to say about Mint.com, and so I've been using it for the last six months or so. On the whole, I've been underwhelmed.
Mint tries to auto-categorize your spending for you. I can't decide which is more annoying, having my utilities auto-categorized as my toy budget, or having literally every Amazon purchase categorized as shopping, a category that isn't anywhere in my budget. Their trends section is woefully inadequate to track spending over time. And it's annoying as all get out to get spam email that "my Paypal balance is low" or "my interest rate has dropped, why don't I change to a bank with an even lower interest rate." Finally, if I do overdraw a budget, there's no way to zero it out by bringing in money from my EF and reconciling my accounts - I have to use torturous and unsound accounting methodology to make my budgets look right again.
But this week has taken the cake - according to Mint, my toy budget is overdrawn by $2264. Usually, this means that Mint has again misallocated a credit card payment to my toy budget. In this case, however, I can't find the source of the two thousand dollar plus overdraft, and I've looked over all my transactions for the last six months. So, basically, I have to either wait for Mint to fix the error, or put in fake numbers and hope that Mint never fixes the error so that my numbers continue to look correct.
I'm done with this. I'm going back to my trusty whiteboard next month. I still want a way to track expenses well over time, and I'm sure I'll try another budgeting service when it becomes available, but, for me, using Mint has been a gigantic fail.