The Slow Monopoly of Mint.com

Ten years ago, when I first seriously got into personal finance and started using yearly versions of Quicken, there was a decent amount of choice.

The big players, Quicken and Microsoft Money, kept each other somewhat on their toes and new features were implemented over the base design, although Quicken never really changed much.

Somewhere in the latter half of the decade, there was an explosion of online innovation. Companies like Mint, Wesabe, Quicken Online, Mvelopes, and countless others started to tap a younger and more web-savvy market.

Suddenly, there was a lot of choice.

Then came the news that Microsoft Money would be closing its doors. Now, rumors surround the desktop versions of Quicken–is there a future in the desktop market and will Quicken deliver a product worth talking about?

Quicken Online merged with Mint to create a online mega-giant. Wesabe closed its doors.

Very suddenly, when people ask for suggestions on a personal finance manager, I’m left with few obvious choices.

Mint.com is good, but the relative lack of competition and its one-size-fits-all, non-customizable interface leaves much to be desired.

The latest from Quicken seems to be that they’re working on a “cross-platform” app that would work on PC and Mac desktops, as well as the web.

Are the days of free online management numbered? What about desktop management? Who will step up to the plate and innovate?

Photo by orangeacid

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12 thoughts on “The Slow Monopoly of Mint.com

  1. My personal budget is now pretty simple so I would rather just hash it out with pen and paper. But, I have always wondered how is Mint? I started to sign up just to test it out but didn’t want to provide all that personal information.

    1. A lot of people have the same issue with worrying about online security, etc. Mint claims that your data is secure, and I personally have no worries, but there’s always a chance of an online security breach!

  2. I was thinking the same thing with the closing of Quicken online and Wesabe. There aren’t that many great free options out there. I use Quicken (desktop version), and I hope they stick around for a few more years – at least until I get out of debt!

    1. Since you bought a desktop copy, there should be no problem. The only thing that “sunsets” is the support (and, I think, online statement downloads) after three years.

      I don’t think they’ll ever go away, even though Quicken is not a big profit center for them. Someone HAS to keep making PF software…I hope, anyway.

  3. I just made the switch from Quicken online to Mint. Had tried Mint a year ago and didn’t like it (wouldn’t load some of my accounts) but this time it’s working out great. I also tried Gnucash and Green Sherpa for a few weeks each when I found out Quicken online was closing down, but ended up preferring Mint. It makes it easy to check all my accounts for new transactions each day.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! Many people love Mint and it’s working out great for them. I use it for certain things like alerts, but I’ve just found that it falls short in other areas that I really need, like a strong budgeting engine.

  4. Well, Bundle.com just unveiled new features for budgeting and money tracking. That could provide some much-needed competition.

    There are a lot of similarities, but I like the fact that Bundle lets you drag and drop from one budget section to another if you go over. In real life, you switch around money, why not on your actual budget display?

    Also, Bundle.com actually gives you an idea of average spending in whatever budget category you’re in. You can go generally or give your age, household and/or location for more specific breakdowns. That is a particularly handy feature, in my view. I always wonder what is considered “normal” in various categories.

  5. My bank, USAA, actually offers their own version of a service that rivals Mint. It is actually pretty good service on their website and uses much of the same technology including the 3rd party company that retrieves your financial data from your banks, etc.

    1. I’ve heard the USAA system is pretty good. A lot of other banks have tried to do the same (Bank of America a while ago), but it just wasn’t up to par graphically and functionally.

  6. Yodlee’s MoneyCenter (moneycenter.yodlee.com)

    It’s actually the back-end for Mint. It’s not as pretty, but has a lot of features – some that Mint doesn’t.

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