Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mint Adds Manual Transactions

Mint.com has added a feature many people wanted: the ability to enter cash transactions and manually enter future transactions in other accounts. But the way it works is a little weird.

Let's look first at adding manual transactions, for instance to a checking account. This makes a lot of sense, as you really need to know what pending transactions could affect your account balance. You can enter a future check with a check number and later, when that check has actually cleared against your bank account, it will be automatically reconciled so you don't have a duplicate entry. I'm not sure how this would work with a savings account where there's no check number to help with matching the transactions.

As for cash transactions, I don't like the way they've implemented this. You can add a random transaction that isn't counted against any account if you just want to track cash expenses against a budget, but there's no way to maintain a cash account and enter expenses against it. Instead, they want you to assign your cash transactions to your recent ATM transactions, which some people were using as a workaround already. I guess they've made it a little easier to do that, but they've missed half the point of bothering to track cash in the first place. Cash is cash, and what matters is the total you have and the total you spend-- why would you need to assign it to a particular ATM transaction? And what if you receive payment in cash and then spend that money?

Another thing worth noting is that you can't yet enter new transactions from the iPhone app, which is really a necessity. Mint says they're working on adding that soon, though.

You can read more about this all works at the Mint Blog. Some of the comments bring up these exact issues so perhaps they'll listen to their users and make some changes.

But on the positive side, after using Mint for a couple of months now, I have to say that there is a lot to like about it. It's very easy to set up and I love being able to check my balances and see transactions on my iPhone. That makes it all the more frustrating that they have left a lot of good features out-- I wish I could see how the individual stocks and mutual funds in my portfolios were doing on my iPhone (showing how much they were up or down, not just the current price), rather than just a total balance. I wish the budgeting categories were a little more flexible. And the cash transaction thing is just bizarre. Let's hope they keep refining this without heading off in the wrong direction...


meara said...

Until they add the cash transactions to the iPhone app this isn't very useful to me--I'm not on the computer when I'm spending my cash! And I don't want to go to the whole website from my phone, that's the point of the app! But I am glad (or will be eventually!) that they added this functionality.

Soft said...

This is really interesting. I think it does indicate that there may be tiers, though I think you would need a lot more datapoints to really prove it statistically.

Parag said...

Mint is powerful tool just for spending analysis but even more helpful if you want to knock together a budget.
Personal finance

samir said...

When you receive a cash income, you can input it in the cash account as income. then when you spend that cash you can input it as expenses and uncheck the check box "remove from last ATM".
I used the cash account to input previouse transactions in my bank accounts, because we cannot add manual transactions in them.
Unfortunatelly they dont allow to input transactions before 1/1/2007
It will be very helpful if they allow us to input this for all time.

Ralph said...

This sounds like a nice upgrade to the mint service. Hopefully with a little time they will fix some of the flaws that are still associated with it.