You all know that I have been a fan of Mint.com for a long time. I have compared it to sites like Adaptu and PageOnce. Today, I am going to compare it to another competitor, Manilla. Enjoy the review of Mint’s new competitor Manilla.
We have been told that we need to balance our checkbooks for decades. This common advice is given with the best intentions. We are told that by tracking our transactions, we are protecting ourselves from overdrafts and ensuring nothing unauthorized happens in our accounts. That is true, but there are better ways to do all of that.
I travel a lot. If you are anything like me, you like having your travel documents, plans, and information all in one place. I used to print out a stack of papers for each hotel, flight, rental car, and other reservation during a trip. Thanks to TripIt, that is now a dead practice. This site is the Mint.com of travel.
What Is TripIt?
TripIt is a web application that works in conjunction with your Android, iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Phone. It creates itineraries for your upcoming trips that are consolidated into one location for easy and instant access.
From the TripIt website, I ensure everything I could want to know for upcoming travel plans is entered in as a Trip.
How Does TripIt Work?
Every time I make a flight or hotel reservation, I get an email confirmation. I gave TripIt access to my Gmail inbox and it regularly searches it for new confirmation emails. If it finds one, it creates a new trip and ads the information for easy access.
When you click on the trip (see above), a screen opens up with every flight, confirmation number, hotel, maps, links to directions, weather forecasts, and anything else you might want. You can add restaurant and show reservations too.
If a plan does not import automatically, you can forward the confirmation email to email@example.com and it is added for you. If the site can’t read the email, which is rare, you can always add it manually.
The Social Aspect
I have seven friends currently active on TripIt. I can see their upcoming trips and annual miles traveled. It is a fun way to interact with friends. You can also automatically post to Facebook, but I don’t.
I only add people on TripIt that I actually want to know where I am. Anyone you connect with can see your general plans for your trip, so only allow people you trust to connect. Outside of those people, everything is secure.
Automation and Time Savings
Outside of saving a few trees and printer ink, this site is a huge time savings. I know I can just pack up and head to the airport without worries of forgetting anything. When I get there, I just open up the TripIt app and check in for my flight. When I land, I just open my phone to grab directions to the hotel or rental car reservation information.
It is so easy that people might not get how it works. The thing is, there is not much to get. It just does everything for you so you don’t have to waste time.
In the past, I have written a heck of a lot about Mint.com. It has long been my favorite personal finance tool. Over time, however, while features have expanded customer service has declined. This encouraged me to try out other services.
First, I compared Mint and Thrive. Thrive is owned by the company behind Lending Tree and has excellent customer service and a unique look on budgeting. Rather than focusing on dollars spent, it focuses on the number of events. For example, “you can go to a restaurant two more times this month.” Thrive is cool, but I still gave Mint a one up due to the interface.
Next, I compared Mint and Pageonce. In this round, Mint was a clear winner. Pageonce had one major benefit. Pageonce allows you to track your hotel and mileage rewards cards and bills. Mint does not. However, the interface was not as refined and I found the alert system to be a bit buggy.
And now, I present to you:
Interface and Navigation
Overall, Mint still has the best aggregator interface around. It is simple, sleek, and easy to navigate. Having only one navigation bar at the top and a few layers of options makes Mint a quick, simple site to use.
That said, Adaptu has a much more robust interface. You can look at the data lot of different ways and sort and funnel accounts with many different views and groupings. Sometimes, however, it is not very intuitive to find your way around through multiple layers of menus. The dashboard has a lot of great information if you don’t need as many pretty charts.
Mint has a lot of history and supports a lot of accounts. However, accounts break a lot. Just because your account is in the list does not mean it is going to work today. I have had accounts break for months with little response from customer service.
Adaptu does not have as many financial accounts, but it has almost everything else you can imagine. Like PageOnce, I can load in my frequent flyer accounts, hotel rewards points, retail rewards points, utility billing accounts, and more that I probably have not thought of yet. And, so far, they all work.
The instant budget from Mint gives you an extremely easy tool to use right away. It builds your budget based on average spending and you can edit and tweak it as you like. This is a massive benefit. Beyond budgeting, however, Mint offers little help. Its investments tracking is full of bugs (it can’t handle stock splits) and does not show all of my investment accounts accurately.
Adaptu also gives budget analysis, but it is much more labor intensive to setup. Unlike Mint’s auto budget, you have to decide your own budget and put it in manually.
For the graphs that give a spending breakdown, Mint’s interface is much more intuitive and pretty, but both give the same ultimate results.
Mint.com can’t handle a stock split. That is a common occurrence, and it shows that Mint did not go to the level of development needed for investment tracking. Overall, the interface is fairly simple and gives you a performance history for each security and a portfolio comparison to the market. However, if it can’t track a stock value correctly (like a split) and can’t handle some of my mutual funds, it is not an accurate view.
Their heart is in the right place, but they didn’t get the job finished.
Adaptu hit a home run on their investment tracking options. Adaptu worked hard to build a more detailed interface with a total investment view and a breakdown by portfolio.
Mint.com has a blog. Adaptu has a full community discussion forum. You can discuss by topic and get ideas for methods to improve your finances. This is taking a page from the book of the now defunct Wesabe, but it is welcome back for those looking to connect with other like minded people.
I have used Mint.com for a long time and have no plans to leave it behind, but I now have two aggregators in my bookmark list. I use Mint for my overall quick view, but I have Adaptu for more in depth looks into my investment and my travel reward tracking.
If I were going to pick one to start with today, I would lean toward Adaptu, but I love the clean and sleek interface that Mint gives me. Like Thrive, Adaptu gives Mint a real run for its money. But unlike Thrive, which acts as a financial advisor for people who need more help deciding how to go forward, Adaptu gives you a more detailed look at your situation with more data and lets you make your own decision on how to act.
For all of the sites I have reviewed, here is my updated ranking:
The battle of the financial aggregators continues here at Narrow Bridge. In the past, we did an in depth comparison of Mint.com and Thrive. Today, we look at another alternative to these services, PageOnce, and compare it with current leader Mint.com.
What They Have In Common
Both sites are designed to bring your information to one place with a single log in. After an initial setup process, both sites pull in balance and transaction data from your various bank, credit card, and investment accounts. Any financial account is fair game.
That is about as far as I would compare them.
What Sets PageOnce Apart
PageOnce is focused on bringing a wide variety of accounts into one place. This goes far beyond financial accounts. For the life hacker in you, PageOnce
can be a great tool.
In addition to my financial accounts (I only loaded a limited number as a test), I have added shopping accounts such as eBay and Amazon, services like Netflix (limited queue management), utilities such as my home internet, cable (canceled), and wireless phone provider, various social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn, and my Gmail.
While it is fun to have my social media accounts accessible with one login, I can’t do anything with them through the PageOnce interface, it juts provides me links to visit and edit those sites.
What really sets PageOnce apart is the ability to pull in utility bills, insurance accounts, and travel rewards accounts.
With one log in, I can see updated data on my airline and hotel points and miles along with expiration dates. Managing travel rewards is a huge pain in the ass if you use multiple hotel and airline reward programs. PageOnce makes it simple and easy.
The “alerts” feature is also a benefit, but it has also proved to be an annoyance. On one page, I can see new e-mails, bills coming due, and other important information. However, the default settings and updating system have proved to be a bit buggy. I got the same e-mail that I had paid my Qwest bill every day for a week.
What Sets Mint.com Apart
I have written about Mint.com many, many times on this site. I have been using it for well over three years and have seen features come and go.
Mint’s financial analysis features blow PageOnce out of the water. Mint.com offers tools for budgeting, investment tracking, long term spending tracking by category, goal tracking, a transaction history search function, and net worth tracking.
Mint is a full service financial tracking system and has been improved over time to include more features and better account and transaction tracking systems.
To highlight a few prominent features:
- Mint.com imports your transactions and automatically categorizes them. You can view historical charts of your spending by category over a specified time period.
- Mint fills in a budget throughout the month comparing your spending to your pre-set budget limits.
- You can set a goal, such as paying off a credit card or saving for a vacation, and designate accounts tied to the goal. Mint does the math and coaches you through the steps to reach your goals.
- Mint tracks your investments and their performance over time. (I have found many bugs in this feature)
The biggest problems I have with Mint are around bugs and customer service. While I did not need to report anything to PageOnce, as it all just worked, over the years I have had many account connection and update issues with Mint. Over time, their customer service has severely degraded. While I get an auto-response that I will hear back from Mint staff in 24-48 hours if I file a bug report, I rarely hear back at all. Some accounts go for months without updating correctly. Luckily these have been less important accounts, but if my primary checking or credit card stopped updating I would be up a creek without a paddle. A company owned by such a reputable company (Intuit) should have its act together better than Mint does today.
The sites have different focuses. Mint is primarily focused on personal financial tracking. PageOnce is a general aggregation service. However, this is a personal finance site. Mint.com is a clear winner due to its extensive budgeting and financial modeling tools.
To compete, PageOnce can increase its budget and transaction offerings on its site. Mint can learn a few things from PageOnce, however. First, have your product actually work 100% of the time. The constant bugs are unprofessional and the customer service is terrible. Also, Mint could add a new feature to track travel points accounts and some major billing providers. However, they should focus on doing what they already do better before they add new features.
My favorite website, Mint.com, just released aggregate spending data for people interested in seeing trends around the country. I was a little surprised to see that Littleton, Colorado, just a few miles away from where I am sitting right now, has the fourth highest monthly average spending in the nation. Crazy!
You can see how your city, favorite restaurant, or local store ranks at Mint Data.
If you are interested in getting a serious breakdown of your portfolio and retirement, you might be interested in Future Advisor. The site uses aggregation technology to load your investment and retirement portfolios and will build you an investment plan to reach your retirement goals.
Your input your current annual income and ideal retirement age. FutureAdvisor takes care of the rest. (Click the image below to enlarge)
I loaded up my Schwab portfolio and told the site I want to retire at 40 making 80% of my current income. It told me exactly what I need to do to get there. It also told me that I am way off. I am on track to retire at 68, not 40. However, FutureAdvisor only supports a few brokerage firms to date, and could not load my 401(k) in my projection.
The site has a little work to do to be useful for everyone, but the team is on track with a great product. Check it out at futureadvisor.com.
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I always wished that Mint.com would add something to track my frequent flyer mile accounts, hotel point accounts, and so on. Fortunately, someone came up with a way to do it.
Award Wallet lets you input your airline, hotel, and many other online accounts for automatic updating. You also get a weekly e-mail with updates to your accounts if you choose. I really like the warning that tells you if your points will be expiring in the near future.
The site is not perfect. There are some missing accounts and I have a few that will not update correctly, such as Southwest Airlines. However, it is a great step forward and it looks like they are adding new accounts regularly.
I have been using the site for about a month, and I suggest it to anyone who likes financial aggregation sites.
I recently found a new web tool that gives the personal finance arsenal tools a small business twist. I often write about sites like Mint and Thrive, but those are both focused on individuals. For business owners, you might be interested in start-up inDinero.
Before I go on, I have to note that inDinero is not completely free. There is a free plan for entrepreneurs with less than 50 transactions per month, but larger businesses have to pay $30 per month or $100 per month for the higher tier plans. (At least it is a deductible business expense)
The site has many of the features of Mint and Thrive, but focused on accounting rather than a personal budget. The site can connect to many financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies. It aggregates your data into a basic cash statement that helps you monitor cash flow and liquidity, which is very important for small businesses. It also gives you spending, income, cash, and net income trending over time.
If you are a small time freelancer or blogger, like me, this could be a great way to break out your expenses from your personal expenses for free. If you have a larger business, it may be worth the cost (and accountant savings) to give something like this a shot.
If you are interested, visit inDinero’s homepage. Do you run a small business and have other online tools, maybe even free ones, that you use for this purpose? If so, please share in the comments.
Wesabe, a previously mentioned Mint.com alternative and member of the personal finance arsenal, has announced it will be closing its doors on July 31st. At that point, the community feature will remain but all finance tools and records will be purged.
I am deeply unhappy to have to announce that Wesabe will be discontinuing our Accounts tab, and all of the related personal finance tools we offer, as of July 31st, 2010. The Groups tab, which hosts discussions on personal finance topics, will remain online indefinitely. A FAQ about this shutdown is available.
You will be able to download all of your data from now until July 31st by visiting our export page. After that date, we will delete all data and all credentials we hold for security and privacy reasons. If you prefer, you may delete your membership immediately or at any time before July 31st.
I liked that Wesabe was the main player in the personal finance aggregator world that did not require you enter your bank’s user-name and password. However, you were required to manually download your bank data and upload it to Wesabe. I had an account for a short while, but closed it in favor of Mint due to the time consuming, multi-step process.
It was a great site for many people, and will be missed. If you have never tried a personal finance aggregation tool, you should check out my always up-to-date list of free money management tools.