One of the main reasons I still use Quicken to manage my finances is the bill reminder feature. Quicken’s bill tools are powerful, because I can:
- Keep track of when things are due and view bills at a glance, including overdue, upcoming, and paid.
- Program how frequently things are due (weekly, monthly, quarterly, or maybe only once…)
- Use fixed or variable amounts for bill amounts, using estimates from past months as an average, or making bills dependent on another variable, like a credit card balance.
- Mark bills as paid, and have them automatically entered into the correct account, updating the current and projected balance.
Even with this suite of features, the only thing I really need is to be reminded of when bills are due. I used the calendar for this purposes for a while, but found it difficult to remember whether I had actually “paid” specific bills, because there was no easy way to mark them as such. The calendar setup also has trouble telling me how much I actually need to pay on upcoming bills.
And so I returned to being a de facto Quicken user, if only for the bill features. You can imagine my excitement when a few weeks ago, I received this happy news in my Inbox:
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At last, Mint had come out with something that could help me manage my bills– a bill reminder feature.
It’s an area that Mint had clearly lacked in for some time, and one of the key reasons why I wasn’t using Mint as my primary money management tool. (The other is that their budgeting tools are not as envelope-based as my beloved Mvelopes).
Curious to see how the new feature performs, I decided to test-drive it for a few weeks. Let’s take a look at the results:
The Mint Bill Reminder Features
Here’s a quick list of the Mint features bill reminder offers:
- You get an immediate overview of the next 4 weeks of bills on the home page.
- You can set up one-time or recurring bills.
- Recurring bill frequencies include every 2 weeks, every 1, 2, 3 or 6 months, or once a year.
- Mint reviews your expenses and suggests things that look like bills to integrate into the system.
- You can tie bills to any of your accounts, such as a credit card, so that the bill equals the balance due. For loans, Mint automatically uses your statement balance to determine the amount due.
- You can make bills a fixed or variable amount.
- You can set up email and text alerts a set number of days before a bill is due to remind you. (Awesome for someone like me, who lives in his Inbox).
That’s a great list, but as I put the system through its paces, a few things immediately jump out as missing:
- You can’t set up weekly bills, my preferred frequency of transfers to savings accounts.
- You can’t mark things as “paid.” The only thing you can do is clear the alert that reminds you payments are due, or use your email inbox (via the alerts) as a means of managing payments. For people with a lot of bills, keeping things straight could get confusing.
- You can’t see projected balances out into the future.
What I Thought
Will Mint replace Quicken for my bill reminders? I’m seriously considering it. For the first generation of this particular feature, this thing is awesome.
Mint bill reminders have almost everything you would need to manage a small household’s bills. It performed exactly as expected, I got my bills paid on time and could easily see what was coming up soon.
The shortcomings are important, but not so critical that they kill the deal. All things considered, Mint has debuted a nice feature. And of course (though it’s easy to forget), Intuit owns both Quicken and Mint, so it’s nice to see that they are continuing to innovate.
Since writing this post, I have put every last bill I could on auto-pilot and moved the remainder of my bill reminders into the Mint system. There are only a handful of bills to keep track of now, so the idea that I can’t mark a bill as paid is not critical, since I’m using my Inbox as a processing center for the reminders.