One of my projects over this holiday break is to change the system for my finances. I have used Mint off and on for the past seven years, and religiously the last two. I’m ready to switch, but it’s not because I’ve outgrown the product.
Mint was started in 2006 and acquired by Intuit in 2009. It was a smart acquisition for Intuit because Mint users were the target customer for TurboTax. Adding Mint created a new acquisition channel and way to keep customers in the ecosystem. While it sounds like a good idea, my guess is the model never proved itself internally. Either some experiments failed, or it wasn’t given a chance.
Mint remains free for users. Its only source of revenue is from credit card referrals, which does not align with Intuit’s business model. My guess is Mint is that Mint sees a positive operating ROI (hence it still being around), but that ads and other acquisition channels are much better.
In other words, Mint has become a lame duck. Intuit can let it run with reasonably low effort, but they are unwilling to make an investment to produce any noteworthy improvement. In the years that I’ve used it, I can’t recall any changes to the product.
Having experienced how smooth and simple TurboTax is, I know that Intuit could turn Mint into a world-class product if it wanted to. Mint was that, but new web technology in the past decade has made it a dinosaur.
For 2020, I have taken the recommendation of a few friends and will try Tiller. Tiller provides a daily sync of my financial data to any source. The default option is a Google Sheet, which is what I’ll be doing. Even with a template, this will require more setup - but I am excited about all the future flexibility.
While on the way out, here are my top critiques of Mint:
- Slow interface. Notable lag when changing data fields, often with the data model and UI going out of sync. I frequently refresh the page to ensure things are correct.
- Unreliable data sync. I find a few missing expenses each month.
- Inefficient UI. Simple tasks like splitting receipts are time-consuming.
- No faith in the future (see above)