3 Reasons Mint.com May Not Be For You

3 Reasons Mint.com May Not Be For You

Mint The following is a guest post from Edward Antrobus. He is a construction worker, home cook, and writer. He writes about frugality and occasionally disagrees with the personal finance establishment at EdwardAntrobus.com. Thanks for helping while I’m memorizing the 1040 tax form!

I first tried using Mint when Intuit first bought them. I used Quicken and Microsoft Money for a number of years and thought I would try my hand at an online version. The idea may be solid for most people, but I quickly discovered that Mint and other online account aggregators aren’t for me.

If Mint, or SaveUp, SpringCoin, PageOnce, or Yodlee, works for you, that’s great. But before jumping on the bandwagon, stop and take some time to figure out if the service really meets your needs.

Reason 1: Your Accounts Don’t Work

Not all banks allow third-party log-ins. My student loans are through AES and I have had some difficulty with them back when I was trying different aggregators. It turned out that third-party sign-in was against their terms of service. Whenever they saw a service trying to log into a customer’s account, they would block it. Multiple attempts led to me getting locked out of my own account and I wound up having to call the company to get my account re-instated! Considering that I have signed up for e-billing for my .25% interest rate discount, not being able to log into my account could be big problems for the bank that holds 50% of my total debt.

If one of your accounts is through a bank that doesn’t allow third-party log-ins, what is the point of using an aggregator to aggregate just some of your accounts?

Reason 2: One Stop Shopping vs Different Categories

My wife works at a supermarket. It is one of those ultra-modern ones with a Starbucks, hot food, and a gas station. After the rent, that store gets more of our money than anybody else between groceries, dining out, gasoline, and my wife’s lunch when she gets on her occasional anti-sandwich, salad, or leftovers moods.

If I enter my receipts into Quicken or my trusty Excel spreadsheet, I can pick the category I want to assign that particular expense towards. In Mint? It will decide that it was a grocery expense and I have to go back and fix it. And if I don’t get around to doing that for three or four days, am I going to remember if that $20 was for gas or some in-between items?

Reason 3: Privacy

Privacy concerns here are two-fold. First, you are saving all of your passwords for all of your financial accounts in one place. Sure they use strong encryption, but hardly a month goes by without hearing about another website getting hacked and personal information shared. In the past year, I have had to change my LinkedIn password and received a notice from my alma mater that my social security number may have been divulged.

The second privacy concern is Mint’s business model. How they make money is personalized advertising. Oh, you spend 3% of your income on X, well maybe you would be interested in Y instead. They are selling your purchasing information to the highest bidder! In general, I don’t have a problem with personalized advertising. But not when it comes to that level of detail.

Do you use Mint or another account aggregator? Do you agree with any of these issues?

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  1. Yes, good points – especially the first one! I don’t think the second point is very strong because like you said if you budget to the level that you want to break out single transactions into multiple categories you have to do it with whatever software you use – it’s just that Mint allows you to be lazier about recording immediately. I don’t worry about security on a daily basis but you’re right that the threat is there. I ignore all advertising so I don’t even notice if it’s personalized or not, nor do I care. So overall Mint is great for us!
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted..Blog Statistics Update January – February 2013My Profile

  2. I like mint because I can log in and see how much debt vs assets I have. I don’t really use the banking feature because some transactions get recorded twice. Not sure if it is the bank or Mint, but it really screws things up. Mint seems to work with all of my accounts, but I tried Ready for Zero and it doesn’t work at all, so that is a downside if your bank or loan provider doesn’t participate.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Things That Make Me Go HmmMy Profile

  3. Good points Edward. I personally have never used Mint or any of the other competitors out there. I ink they CAN be good for some, but do share some of your same concerns. I do everything through boring ol’ Excel and it works great for me, plus I have complete control over it.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, Snowmageddon EditionMy Profile

  4. I’ve used Mint for about as long as they’ve been around. I don’t worry about my security with them any more than I do with my bank, its a non issue in my book.

    I agree its probably worthless if all your accounts dont work (which is why I don’t use some of the other similar sites) but I think banks/accounts that don’t connect to mint at this point should be very few and far between.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Alternatives To Paying Income TaxMy Profile

  5. I use to use Mint but have stopped for two of the reasons you mentioned. First they don’t allow some of my financial accounts to be uploaded to their interface and second Mint attempts to tell me what I spent my money instead of what I actually spent it on. We have since moved to Personal Capital.
    Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin recently posted..How To Invest In TSPMy Profile

  6. I have probably used 1000 different programs to manage my finances. I liked Mint back when I was in college and only had 1 bank account and it actually worked with mint. Since I have several bank accounts and only half of them work…when they feel like it. I’ve also had the issue others have where it counts things twice or I will get gas at walmart and it counts it as groceries.

    I’m in the middle of redoing our budget and haven’t decided what to use I’m thinking excel since we’re just trying to be very simple.
    Beth Anne recently posted..7 Quick Takes {Volume 18}My Profile

  7. I never really like Mint.com. Doesn’t work good on me.
    Sarah Park recently posted..How to Become a Food CriticMy Profile

  8. You make good points about Mint. I was going to try them out because everyone raved about the site.
    However, after signing up for an account they asked me for all of my information for a bank account. I understand that to use the service I’d need to give them some information, but it just seemed like a bad idea. All it takes is one hacker/bad employee to find my information and screw with all of my accounts. No thanks. Having one compromised account is bad enough. I couldn’t imagine having to fix all of them.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..In Debt and Out of Ideas? Draw Your Purchases.My Profile

  9. #1 and #2 are reasons why I do all my own accounting at home. I’ve been doing this for years now and feel very comfortable with my own system.

    Mint.com might be more efficient, but I’m not in the mood to move at this point.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Weekend Link Love: Post Valentine’s Day EditionMy Profile

  10. No we don’t use mint in fact I have never even looked into what they offer. We just designed our own excel spreadsheet and customized it with categories and formulas and away we go. It’s perfect for us.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..The Saturday Weekend Review: Toronto Illegal Immigrants,The Gates Are OpenMy Profile

  11. I haven’t used any of these programs – I love my Excel spreadsheet too much. It is nice to know the back story on this in case I’m asked. Great insight!
    Leslie recently posted..GDI ~ The Lighter Side ~ We Like ItMy Profile

  12. I have never signed up for Mint simply because I didn’t want to give them all of my account information. It seems risky…but that’s just me! =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Beware of Financial Rip-OffsMy Profile

  13. Hi everyone,

    I wanted to recommend this course for all senior executives and top-level managers out there, I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. One week at Oxford University that is more than worth it.

    I really hope you won’t be missing this, you can find the details here: http://www.emirates-enterprise.com/oxford-senior-executive3.php

  14. Great points…I tried mint myself but quit very quickly because my accounts never worked! I would re-enter all of the information and they would magically work again, that is until the next time I tried to log in!
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..The Truth About Tax DeductionsMy Profile

  15. I have used mint for years, but might stop soon. I have learned some new things in excel and will allow me to put in my transactions via a pivot table and spit out some clean stuff. As long as your computer is safe, then you should be good.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Budget Fail: Unrealistic Expectations While ShoppingMy Profile

  16. I initially really liked Mint, and still do for some people. However, I need the power of Quicken to keep track of my investments. That’s what I use primarily.
    The College Investor recently posted..What Type of Investment Account Do I Open?My Profile


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