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The Cloud, Day 15: Dollars and Cents in the Cloud

For my 30 Days With the Cloud journey I have to venture out to find some cloud-based tool to manage my personal finances.

Moving on down the list of things I normally do on my PC that I now need a cloud-based equivalent for, next is keeping track of my finances. I have been using Intuit’s Quicken in some way shape or form for over a decade, but for 30 Days With the Cloud I am going to transition to Mint.com.

The irony of turning to Mint.com for managing my personal finances in the cloud is that it is also owned by Intuit. Intuit chose to just buy what works for $170 million back in 2009 rather than fighting an uphill battle to compete with Mint.com.

One key difference between Quicken and Mint.com is that Mint.com is free. I have been using the Quicken Home & Business version for five or six years now, which has cost me about $70 or $80 each year. Granted, I didn’t have to upgrade each year, but I like to stay current, and it’s a business expense.

As far as the actual ability to track my finances, Mint.com is actually better than Quicken in many ways. Quicken has all of the information for my various bank accounts, credit cards, and loans, but Mint.com is connected to them more directly. Mint.com automatically updates balances, tracks when payments are due, and analyzes how and where my money is being spent.

Quicken is a great tool, but Mint.com is more like having a personal accountant monitoring my finances. Once I set up goals and budgets, Mint.com can send me alerts and updates to let me know how I am doing. When I get charged a service fee from a bank, Mint.com sends me an email alert, and recommends other financial institutions I may want to switch to that won’t nickel and dime me so much.

Although Mint.com is a Web-based entity that I can reach from my iPad through the browser, Mint.com has an iPad app as well. Normally I am a huge fan of native apps over web-based equivalents, but in this case I actually find it easier, and more functional to use the Mint.com site instead of the app. I am still learning my way around the app, though, so maybe that will change over time.

I have two significant caveats, though, when it comes to using Mint.com. First, it seems like I can only add entities that have an online relationship that Mint.com can connect to. I recently purchased a home and the loan is currently being held by the originating lender. That lender does not exist in the Mint.com library, therefore I simply can’t add my mortgage.

In Quicken, I can just add any account I want whether it has a website or not. I am sure my loan will soon be sold off to a more mainstream lending institution that probably does exist on Mint.com, but there should be some way for me to manually add an account to Mint.com even if Mint.com can’t automatically connect to the financial institution.

The second caveat is related to running my business. As I said earlier, I have been using Quicken Home & Business for years because I use Quicken to keep track of my personal finances, and to manage my business. Quicken lets me create invoices, track business expenses, and manage accounts payable and receivable, but Mint.com doesn’t seem to offer any of those same capabilities.

Mint.com is awesome for managing my personal finances, but now I need a different cloud-based solution to maintain my business finances. If you use a different Web-based tool for managing your personal finances, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 14: Don’t Trust All Your Eggs to One Basket

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