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Mint Alternatives: More Tools To Manage Your Money

Mint.com revolutionized how we budget. Now, rivals offer must-see Mint alternatives that manage everything from monthly bills to million-dollar portfolios.

Alternative personal finance manager apps challenge Mint, the longtime leader in free online budgeting.

Technology is changing how we handle money.

When I got my first bank account as a kid, I had a little passbook with my balance history stamped in it. There were no debit cards. And certainly no iPhone apps. And that was less than 20 years ago.

Ten years ago, online banking started to emerge, but few people trusted it.

Five years ago, I wrote about new personal finance manager software programs like Mint.com that would replace manual budgeting with a snapshot of all of your accounts in one place. But adoption was slow. This comment was typical:

…I am concerned about privacy and do not like having my financial information stored on more servers than necessary. Partially because of these concerns, I’ve elected to use money management systems stored locally on my own computers.

Now, Mint.com has more than 7 million users. Intuit bought Mint in 2010 for $170 million and has been investing in technology and growing Mint’s user base ever since.

Times are changing. Personal finance software is becoming commonplace. Today, there are a lot of able Mint alternatives. Most of them, like Mint, are free.

Here, we pit Mint against three alternatives: Personal CapitalHelloWallet, and PowerWallet. When we first published this piece we had also included two relatively different personal finance managers — Adaptu and Manilla — that we liked. Unfortunately both have since closed. We also featured HelloWallet, a solid personal finance manager as well. HelloWallet is still around but offered exclusively through employers to its employees.

Mint

Mint was the first free personal finance manager software to attract a critical mass of users, and, a couple years ago, the best.

Mint is the market leading personal finance tool in terms of users, but I find their interface to be cluttered and not so user-friendly.

Mint’s greatest strength is how the program takes your transaction histories from multiple checking accounts and credit cards and automatically categorizes purchases. Mint then shows you—in a list or colorful graphs—where you’re spending your money. You can also create budgets and have Mint alert you when you exceed the monthly limits you set in each category.

Mint also offers investment tracking, goal setting, mobile apps and integrated product recommendations. (For example, if you bought sunglasses, Mint might show an ad for other fashion accessories under that transaction.)

Mint is free and powerful software, but it’s designed to be everything to everyone which, in my opinion, makes it a bit clunky.

Mint Pros

  • Large user based and fully-developed features
  • Budget feature sends alerts if you spend too much in a category

Mint Cons

  • Occasional pop up ads and product recommendations
  • Failed to automatically categorize my investments
  • Cluttered interface

Try Mint Now (It’s Free)

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is another personal finance manager newcomer showing potential. In fact, after trying Personal Capital I’m hooked on their investment feature because it does the best job automatically figuring my total asset allocation across all of my investment accounts. (The screenshot below shows just one of the ways you can view your entire portfolio with Personal Capital. The colored bars represent different asset classes—foreign and domestic stocks, bonds, cash, and alternatives.)

Personal Capital lets you view all your investments in one account.

Personal Capital aggregates checking accounts and credit cards, too, but it’s clear that their development priority is investing, which isn’t a bad thing. Unlike most personal finance management programs that make money by advertising or recommending products, Personal Capital’s business model is based upon selling investment advisory services to a small percentage of users.

Personal Capital Pros

  • Best investing tools
  • Great dashboard providing at-a-glance look of both spending and investing
  • Provides integrated spend tracking, too

Personal Capital Cons

  • Fewer spend tracking features than competitors
  • No budget feature

Try Personal Capital Now (It’s Free)

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Best budgeting tools: You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget (YNAB) has become a popular option among the DIY personal finance crowd. It’s more expensive — $60 for Windows or Mac — but offers a 34-day full-featured free trial.

You Need a Budget works on four simple financial rules:

  1. Give every dollar a job
  2. Save for a rainy day
  3. Roll with the punches
  4. Live on last month’s income

So unlike other tools that simply aggregate your transactions and track your spending, YNAB actively helps you get better with budgeting. Because there’s a bit of a learning curve, YNAB provides free online classes to get you started, which are very cool.

YNAB syncs between your desktop and your mobile device, and allows you to enter transactions on your mobile device in real time.

Try YNAB free for 34 days

PowerWallet

PowerWallet

PowerWallet features a point system that rewards you when you’ve stayed on track financially, or even merely logged in to the site. It was unclear what the points will be redeemable for (on the site it says that’s still in development … which I found a little weird), but even as a psychological reward, it lets you know you’re doing well.

This site also features deals and coupons for its users, a great extra perk of using the service. It sends out reminders of these deals via email as well.

My favorite aspect of PowerWallet is its prominently displayed “alerts” feature. The site will send you an email if you have overspent in a certain area, which I know would personally help keep me on track (and help me spend less on take-out Pad Thai, I hope).

PowerWallet seems to send more frequent emails than HelloWallet, but the amount is still not overwhelming. I like having a little reminder in my inbox that I should be watching my spending, and I look forward to the emails from PowerWallet.

Try PowerWallet now (it’s free)

Final thoughts

The best personal finance manager app is the one that you’ll use consistently, whether it’s Mint, a mint alternative or even a simple spreadsheet.

That said, it pays to try a few and play around. And you’re certainly not limited to web apps. For example, iBank is a powerful (although more expensive) app for Macs and iOS devices. SavvySpreadsheets offers an Excel-based experience that does more than you might do with your own spreadsheet but leaves out syncing accounts.

I’ll be honest: I don’t have the time at the moment to manually enter every expense I have, so account syncing is attractive. But training myself to use these apps in the last few weeks was like trying to teach an old dog a new trick — I kept checking my online bank account statements, and adding them to another site like HelloWallet or PowerWallet felt like a chore.

I do love Personal Capital for the investing insights it provides. I haven’t found anywhere else that I can get such a useful analysis of my entire portfolio (even though it’s spread across four different brokers and mutual fund companies).

Feel free to leave your thoughts about these or other programs in the comments!

Disclosure: Money Under 30 has affiliate relationships with Personal Capital and PowerWallet. That means if a reader clicks through and opens a free account at these companies, they send me a couple bucks for the referral — there’s never any additional cost to you. This is how I earn a living and am able to produce the free content on Money Under 30, so if you choose to support me in this way; thanks!

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this great review of Adaptu! I’ve passed it along to the technical team to check into the investment tools for you.

  2. Thanks for that great comparison…it’s good to keep track of ‘what else’ is out there.

    Before Mint, I had used Quicken for nearly 12 years. A year and a half ago, I switched to Mint and haven’t looked back. In fact, I think it was one of your blog posts about Mint that got me to try it. It’s been a great help for me, especially when combining finances with my partner.

    Just last week, I loaded up our retirement accounts in Personal Capital. Wow, nice! Just as you said, they’re definitely focusing on the investment side.

    I think I’ll stick with Mint for the all-over financial picture, but Personal Capital is definitely a keeper, to monitor my investing portfolios!

  3. I tried Mint, but I agree with your description; clunky and cluttered. It was a pain to use and it was flaky about being able to download info from some sources. I quit using it and went back to Excel spreadsheets, I can always get what I want with Excel.

  4. Thanks for including us in the review. We have very deep income and expense tracking features. If you use the My Cash feature under banking you can get detailed category by category, this month, and over time, with average monthly spending, drilling all the way down into individual payees.

    Our focus is on cash flow over budgeting, did you spend more than you make?

    We also released our iPhone app last month, and have our iPad app as well.

  5. I use Mint and I enjoy it for the most part. There are a lot of errors when it comes to student loans I’ve found so I’ve been leaving those off and just handling those separately. Once those get fixed I’ll be totally sold I think.

  6. I’ve been using mint for about a year and, although I do agree with some of the cons, I love it overall.

  7. Albrecht says:

    I’ve been using mint for almost 4 years and the dynamic budget is really nice because you’re not always going to spend 50 bucks on fast food every month. The transactions categorization could use some improvements, but I do like the split function.

    Does anyone know if mint, or any of the other web apps can merge accounts together? I’m getting married next year and my fiance’ also has mint account.

  8. Christine says:

    I use mint.com and love it! We have been using it for years

  9. This post almost made me mad! I finally got my Mint right where I want it, and now you suggest there might be something better! I’m almost relieved to learn that there’s not a better budgeting app. For my wife and I, it’s much easier to track spending and budgeting during our busy lives (including spending on kids) with Mint than Excel, what I was using. It’s also a good reminder of looming long term goals (e.g. student debt, mortgage, etc.) Mint’s Cons: “Goals” improvements have basically stopped and “Investment” tab is pretty basic.

    Along the lines of Mint’s shortcomings, a future post suggestion…Online investment adviser comparisons. I’ve recently discovered two: FinancialGuard.com and Smart401k.com (a Mint suggestion). They seem to make sense for those of us who have most of our investments in retirement accounts that financial planners may not advise on. It seems to be a good way of looking at the whole financial picture (couples especially) and managing it as one.

  10. I’ve tried Mint and several other programs and found they didn’t meet my needs. I now use a spreadsheet template that I found on Excel. I enter my spending for each day and it calculates the amount I have left in my account for the rest of the year. At first it was a bit tedious, but now I love it. I just enter the transactions from my bank account (I live on cash and use my ATM for everything so I can track it).

    For me, entering what I spent in order to forecast the next month didn’t work for me. I needed to learn about cash flow. This spreadsheet I use allows me to see the impact of spending $100 today on the rest of the month, or the year for that matter. By entering my standing payments, I’ve been able to learn that $1000 in my account doesn’t mean I have $1000 to spend. I believe this piece has been the most important bit of education when looking at my budgeting.

    I then take those numbers enter them in a monthly budget and then enter those numbers into an annual tracker. Again, it may all seem tedious, but it’s not just about tracking my cash flow, but learning about it. Mint, Quicken, and other programs didn’t help me learn as well as this.

    Sarah

    PS My biggest frustration with Mint and some of the other programs, PageOnce, etc. is that I couldn’t enter personal loans or debts from organizations not listed in the program. These are incredibly important as I track my debt pay off and was frustrated that I couldn’t include them in my overall financial picture.

  11. Danielle says:

    I’ve used mint for about 4-5 years now and overall, I love it. I’ve had some more problems with it recently, perhaps because I’m a bit older and finally getting accounts beyond just a few savings, checking and credit cards.

    I get most annoyed with adding a new account to an already existing bank. Mint doesn’t seem to acknowledge or pick that up for quite some time, if ever, and I’ve had to resort to adding a bank twice just to get all the accounts, which isn’t clean either.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it is great and overall effective, but you have to have your own mindset when working with it sometimes. For example, I am almost never within my budget according to mint, but I know in my head that ‘I went over here, under here’ and in the end, it worked out. And for some months that I’m going to be spending more than I make, I also understand this and get annoyed with the alerts, ‘red’, etc.

    Sometimes I wish there was a better ‘ignore’ function to deal with situations that are well defined/classified.

  12. I use mint.com just as a quick reference tool to see all my accounts in one place but I’m not overly fond of the budgeting side of it. I don’t need an email telling me I’m about to exceed my fast food budget for the month. My excel spreadsheet still works best for me, allows me to appropriately but more generally categorize. I agree with a previous commenter that Mint’s goals are not very useful. The biggest online finance tool I’m looking for right now, is one that would allow me to segregate my savings into separate categories without actually splitting my ING account. I currently have my emergency savings, future home, car, and wedding savings all in one account but would love a tool to say x amount is emergency, x amount is for home, etc. anybody have suggestions?

  13. I have a Mint account, I like Mint. I started using it when I was learning to budget. I am spender. I haven’t logged on in a while, because I now use an excel sheet system that is more visual and hands on. I need to be physically doing something to understand it.

  14. Steven Artau says:

    QUICKEN 2011 does it for me. The last of the Quicken series before Intuit incorporated the simple and mindless mint format.

  15. Valerie says:

    I’ve been checking out my options and it seems like Adaptu DOES have a budget feature! Maybe it simply isn’t as extensive as Mint’s? I used to use Mint, but I agree that it’s too cluttered, so I went back to excel. Considering some of these other ones now, though!

    • David Weliver says:

      Thanks for pointing this out, Valerie. I still didn’t see it but I’ll look closely and update the post when I try it out.

      • Valerie says:

        I set up an account with them last night, and I am loving it so far! Definitely more appealing to the eye than Mint.

        The budget feature is certainly not a spotlight on their website- so I can see how people missed it, but it’s under the “Spending reports” screenshot you have above, and the last tab “Set budgets.” This will certainly help reduce all of the time I spend manually inputting transactions into my excel budget spreadsheet.

        Thanks for guiding me to Adaptu!

  16. No mention of YNAB?

    • David Weliver says:

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about YNAB but it’s a paid app. I decided to stick with free options in this post only because looking at paid options opens up the field A LOT. Perhaps in another post soon.

  17. Niroshen P. says:

    Hey Everyone,

    For all Android users out there I would recommend ‘Cash Droid’. It is a simple app. that allows numerous categories for tracking transactions and creating budgets. It also allows you to breakdown all such data into varying types of reports including ‘Summaries by Accounts’ and even a ‘Cash Flow Forecast’.

    I track absolutely every dime I make and spend and it gives me piece of mind knowing my net worth at all times (even though it’s negative…darn student loans!)

  18. Arthur Shunk says:

    I have used Mint for a couple years now and have never been problem free. The issues had mostly been related to categories(which I can forgive, I do not expect them to know what I am buying from Amazon, etc.) and frustratingly, failure to connect to certain accounts.

    Now it seems all my accounts are finally working smoothly but I have an issue with the email updates. I deleted my 401k account and re-entered after the provider changed and after too many months was finally able to connect to the new account without issues. Now the problem is the old 401k balance is added to my net worth when I receive email updates even though the net worth is correctly reported when I log in to Mint.com. This is funny because one of the reasons I stopped using Quicken after so many years and paying for update after update is that it never, ever was able to create an accurate net worth report for me for some reason, despite the home balances always being correct.

  19. I just recently graduated high school, and the mint.com app on my iPad has helped me tremendously since I moved out and have to start doing my own budgets now. It has made what took me 6 months to learn in personal finance into something I figured out in about 30 minutes. I strongly recommend this app.

  20. After reading this article, I looked into both Mint and Personal Capital a little more. While I’m sure these tools would be useful, I’ve discovered quite an annoying trick being pulled by several major banking and investment institutions. For those of you who have accounts with Bank of America, Fidelity, and even American Express (as well as probably several others I didn’t check), your account information will often not update properly – if it even ever gets accessed to being with – because these institutions are blocking access to many 3rd party aggregators. Unfortunately, this means that all of these services are basically useless to me. I’ve settled on using BoA’s in-house aggregator since these institutions seem willing to share among themselves, but it’s far from ideal.

  21. Carolanne Lott says:

    I use LearnVest. It is a site especially designed for woman’s finance. The buget is simple and easy to use. It keeps track of all my transactions like Mint, but Mint seemed very cumbersome to me. I highly recommend LearnVest. I have been using it for about a year. It also has ‘bootcamps’ to help you cut costs and make more. My favorite is the one about clothes. :) I haven’t tried the other ones on here, but shall soon. I really like the idea Personal Capital.

  22. I just saw a video about Mint and how you can budget with it using Goals. I thought it was attractive, so I signed up — and immediately exited and deleted my account when I realized it wanted all my credit card and bank data. I understand the appeal and the advantages of having data in the ‘cloud’ but your article here doesn’t really address the comment you highlight as a starting point:

    “…I do not like having my financial information stored on more servers than necessary. Partially because of these concerns, I’ve elected to use money management systems stored locally on my own computer.”

    I also don’t think it’s correct to say that the ONLY alternative to the cloud is Excel. Several years ago I ran a small, cottage business (now ended) and used QuickBooks. For me, QuickBooks was difficult although I did eventually make some peace with it. But at the time, Intuit was also offering QuickBooks in the cloud, and marketing how easy it would be to have your accounts online. But two problems I see with this, over and above any security or identity-theft concerns (which are not small), are ownership and portability. For example, when I asked Intuit, if I signed up for QuickBooks online, if I decided later to take *my* historical data and give it to a CPA (say), #1- is the data mine? and #2- can I move it? Their answer was no, the data was no longer mine. My data became a shared asset — partially belonging to me, and partially belonging to Intuit — so I could not control or move that data at will.

    Think about this like from a copyright angle. I might have the “intellectual rights” to my data, but once I put my data on external servers, those hosts then “own” all the bits and bytes of my data.

    So I am still more than wary about putting sensitive, confidential, financial information on the web. If mint.com perhaps decided to partner with a company like Lifelock (say), offering $1 million in compensation for any identity theft, maybe. But what I am REALLY looking for is something like a downloadable version of mint, which I can install on my physical computer and use to do all the same things (albeit with a bit more hand entry), while still keeping all my data in my own hands, behind my own firewall.

  23. None of these work outside the us that is a con for all of them. After looking at each personal capital looks the best

  24. The main drawback I find with mint (member since 2 months now) is that I cannot manually add transactions that over over 3 months back since the month I opened the account it. I can understand that mint cannot automatically load the data for me as the banks don’t provide it by default.

    But I have the statements from the banks to upto 2 yrs back and would like to add them to get a historical perspective rather than just keep waiting to build it up. I checked Adaptu and found that it has the same drawback. Whats the reason? Why can’t it be manually added?

  25. Having used quicken for 15 years then mint and paying for hello wallet I’ve now settled on adaptu. They do have a budget feature and it took me a few minutes to set up. Personally I think adaptu beats them all hands down. Do not pay for hello wallet…it is not worth it!

    Start with adaptu, no ads, great customer support, great clean capable interface. For a free service they nailed it all!

  26. I was looking for a Manilla review and description, but here you gave me more Personal finance software options to choose from. Thanks! this is great!

  27. Spear Mint says:

    Mint has become unusable for tracking debit card purchases with the introduction of a bug more than a year ago that truncates the description and they have done nothing to fix it.
    Will have to give these others a try.

  28. I used Quicken religiously for many years, but eventually let my records get out of date. I thought the idea of Mint was great and gave it a try, but it was so buggy and there was no way to manually correct bad/duplicated entries. I decided I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with it. Now I’ve set up an account at PageOnce. How do they compare to the services you’ve reviewed?

  29. The time has changed right now. Decide whether you are going to make this loan based on
    an emotional connection to the borrower or treat the loan as a purely business transaction.
    The rates are high in unsecured personal loans.

  30. I’ve been using http://www.SavingsMap.com recently and have been extremely pleased with how easy it is to generate useful, transparent forecasts. Like many of the other sites, it lets you input a current budget, but where I’ve been most impressed is in it’s cash flow forecasting ability. It shows you how you stack up against your long terms savings goals, but what I’ve found even more useful is running any trade study I can think of to see how the various forecasts are affected. Very useful for financial decision making.

  31. I have Manilla and Personal Capital. IMO Personal Capital is the best. Very easy to use and to see where your money is and how you are spending it.

  32. The biggest problem I have with Mint is NO REPORTING. You have all that information in the program but can’t get it out for tax season. I was surprised you didn’t even touch on this feature with the reviews in this article.

  33. Can anyone suggest a website like any of those discussed here that are available in NZ? I’m not aware of any banks in NZ that allow you to add accounts to services such as these.

  34. I like Mint, but am frustrated that it wont’ work with certain accounts like GEMB credit cards, so I had given Adaptu a try. Unfortunately, I just got this notice from Adaptu that they’re discontuning their service: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=20510051a6d800e026b28b0d8&id=c7bac4e325

    Looks like it’s back to Mint for now.

    • David E. Weliver says:

      I know, I just learned that Adaptu is shutting down too, which is too bad. I’ll update this post shortly to reflect that.

  35. Tom Dignazio says:

    I’ve been using Mint since it first rolled out and am generally satisfied. However, the fact that their “advice” mostly directs business to their sponsors has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Finally, Personal Capital came along and got me very excited. Their investment dashboard was much more sophisticated than Mint’s and they provided better analytics on spending, net worth, etc. However, two weeks in and PC started showing incorrect balances in some of my investment accounts! They have a problem, I suppose, with how some of the less popular firms shows account value/prices/etc. So at the moment my 401K holding allocation is non-sensical and my two 529 accounts are flat-out wrong.

    To top that off, my local bank (which has my checking) just completely stopped updated. If they can’t resolve these issues in the next few days, I’m going to have to drop PC altogether. Which would be a shame.

  36. I find that Mint and Learnvest are beautiful and lovely concepts but they are often more work than not as I have experienced a few issues with my transactions reporting in their appropriate categories, repeatedly having to log-in to my bank accounts, etc. I prefer to use my good ole Excel Spreadsheet and Online banking. Granted I can’t take my budget with me on the go, but inputting my transactions into an excel spreadsheet and manually categorizing each really provides me with valuable insight into my spending.