Why Mint.com + Intuit is a Big Idea

Aaron Patzer, the founder and CEO of Mint.com, gives his thoughts on why he is excited about Mint.com’s acquisition by Intuit (the makers of Quicken).

Mint.com needs to offer two more features to be most useful, in my opinion: (1) the ability to delete the default categories (currently you can create new categories, but can’t delete the ones you don’t want) and (2) the ability to split transactions.

Without those two features, we can’t use it to keep track of our budget. For example, if Heidi goes to Target and buys groceries, toys for the kids, and a DVD, it all gets classified into a single category. You can’t split that transaction into the respective categories that reflect your actual purchase. That makes it impossible to track the grocery budget accurately.

Mint.com is great on so many other fronts. But without those two abilities, it is is simply not functional for us. Hopefully with this acquisition, those functions will be added to it.

By the way: I use the Windows desktop version of Quicken, which does offer the ability to split transactions and delete the default categories that you don’t want. But it has the drawback of only being accessible on a single computer.

So, for example, Heidi has to come to my computer to see our budget status or update any information, since we have Quicken on my computer (I run Windows on my Mac so that I can use Quicken). If we put it on her computer, on the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to see our data or update any information without going to her computer.

So the ability to keep this data online is very important. The unfortunate thing is that no online programs (not Mint.com, Quicken Online, iBank, nor anything else) offer both of the two critical functions mentioned above. On the other hand, the desktop version of Quicken does, but since it is not online the data is not easily accessible within a family.

Intuit can solve this problem by simply taking Mint.com and giving it the two critical features that made the desktop version of Quicken so effective: the ability to create and delete categories at will (including the bad default categories that come baked in) and the ability to split transactions.

Update

My readers have pointed out below that Mint does in fact have the ability to split transactions. So I (gladly) stand corrected. Thank you!

I don’t know if this feature did not exist the last time I gave Mint a detailed look, or if I simply failed to notice the way they’ve implemented it. Either way, this is great news and has me giving serious consideration to Mint now.

September 15, 2009 | Filed Under Personal Finance | 8 Comments 

Comments

  • Dan

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you but Mint does have the ability to split a transaction. I can take my coscto trip for instance and assign that to multiple categories (food, clothing, etc).

    Dan

  • http://benhutton.com Ben

    Yeah, you can split transactions in Mint. It’s been able to do that for a while, actually.

    1. Go to the Transactions tab.
    2. Click a transaction.
    3. Click the Edit Details button.
    4. Click the Split button that appears on the top right of the dropdown.
    5. Split into as many categories as you want!

    Also, deleting categories is only critical if you BROWSE through the category list instead of SEARCHING through autocomplete ;-). And even if you do use browsing, I don’t quite see how the extra categories kill the app’s usability (unless you keep miscategorizing things because of too many options…)

  • Rob

    Same here, I split transactions all the time. You can’t, however, delete the default categories. That would be quite useful.

  • Matt

    Thanks, guys. I’ve appended an update to the post.

  • Josh

    Wesabe.com also offers both

  • James

    This is really crappy news I like Mint better than Quicken and it was free :o(

  • http://molesky.wordpress.com/ matthew Molesky

    Matt, I still think you’d love Mvelopes. It does splits, let’s you create any categories you want, downloads all transactions electronically, lets you determine spending rather than just track it after the fact, AND, has iPhone capability (which allows you to even assign transactions on the go, and see the status of all your accounts). Because it is web-based, anyone in the family can see it anytime. And no, I don’t work for them! Blessings brother, Matthew

  • http://www.twitter.com/lukemiddleton Luke Middleton

    I agree with Mr. Moesky about Mvelopes. After years of using Microsoft Money and Quicken, I knew exactly what I wanted (digital envelopes I could physically fund — NOT budget lines projecting what I want to do) and didn’t want. I searched for something that did that and was glad to find Mvelopes. Mvelopes costs, but the amount of time and the clarity it has given us in just one year with it has given us great value that we would not trade for anything.

    Our current conundrum is whether or not to pay for Mvelopes’ lifetime membership (for the cost of about 3 years of Mvelopes service). If Mvelopes stayed as is for the next 30 years, I’d still be happy with it. My only concern is taking the plunge and then someone like Mint.com offering these same features in 5 years.