Goodbye Money

Goodbye Money

The current stock market makes the title generally appropriate, but I'm specifically talking about Microsoft Money here. I used to use Quicken pretty heavily, but I got tired of forced upgrades so I've been using Microsoft Money for a little while. Now I'm happy to be done with both of them.

The thing that appealed to me about Microsoft Money Plus is the "Essential" user interfaces. They're simple, clean ways of doing basic personal finance geared toward people who get their transactions electronically and aren't accounting hobbyists.

Unfortunately, the Essential features are on or off -- there's no way to just dip a toe into "advanced" features. If you venture into such financial rocket-science as splitting a transaction across categories or adding a memo to a transaction, you have to surrender the streamlined UI and switch completely to the Advanced Register. Some Essential features are just broken, like credit card payments not counting as expenses in reports (since the credit card transactions already account for those expenses). The documentation explains it exactly how it should work, but apparently someone forgot to tell the developers. So while the Essential UI showed promise, it was ultimately just disappointing.

After some guilty months of ignoring my finances, I thought, "Heck, I'm a software engineer. I'll just write my own application." How hard could it be? With a database and a grid control I'd be halfway there. Of course, there's the critical part about downloading transactions... There's probably some standard protocols for that somewhere. Then I noticed line at the bottom of the account register in Money:

Account information provided by Yodlee, Inc. or your financial institution's online services.

What's Yodlee?

A quick Google search led me Yodlee and Mint.com, both online applications for personal finance. The consensus seemed to be:

I went straight for Mint.com.

These are the things that I've come to like about Mint.com:

What about concerns?

Security is a pretty important consideration, but they seem to have done a reasonable job being at least as secure as your bank.

Their business model is around making sponsored recommendations based on your financial situation. For example, if you've got a high-interest credit card, they'll recommend a lower interest alternative. Hopefully that model is sustainable.

There are still some bugs in the system. One of my accounts won't update (I've got an open ticket on that one), and my budget disappeared for a little while.

Despite these, I'm cautiously optimistic that I've found a superior alternative to Quicken and Money.