Last night, when I was writing the post about manageME 7, I logged into my Mint.com account first time in many months in order to make some comparison I needed for the post. I mentioned before that I mainly use a desktop version of Quicken to track my finance, not the online version, despite that the web-based too is absolutely free. So even though I have accounts with Mint.com and Quicken Online, I don’t really use them.
Anyway, after I got into my account, what I saw first really shocked me a bit.
Under the Alerts section on the account homepage, I saw messages like these:
This month, you spent $566.27 on Alcohol & Bars. This exceeds your budget of $480 by $86.
In the past 30 days, you spent $6,500.00 on Entertainment. Usually you spend $681.
In the past 30 days, you spent $1,326.60 on Sports. Usually you spend $297.
Since I linked Mint.com to my Bank of America checking account, the only account I use to pay bills, and the downloading was automatic, the transactions are the latest shown in my BofA account. But no way in the world I could have ever spent $566 on alcohol, $1,326 on sports and $6,500 on entertainment in one month.
Realizing that there must be an error, I went back and forth between Mint.com and BofA to check out what those transactions really are. Well, it turned out that the $566.27 I *spent* on alcohol last month are actually payments I sent to Chase to pay my credit card bills; the $6,500 on entertainment are in fact ACH transfers from BofA to my savings account; and $1,326 on sports include more than $1,200 mortgage payment I made to BofA (used to be Countrywide).
We all know how important it is to track each and every spending correctly so the budget, developed based on past spending, can make sense. However, after seeing how Mint.com categorizes the transactions, I have some doubts on whether I can trust the tool to follow a budget and keep spending in check or not (though I don’t have a budget either). Sure, I can edit t the category myself to move the transactions to where they really belong, but that will reduce the value of the tool significantly if I have to manually correct many transactions.
Do you have the same problem as I do if you are using Mint.com too? If so, how do you deal with it? Since I don’t use Mint.com that much, maybe there are other ways to sort the transactions, however it does seem that Mint.com needs to do a better job in categorizing the transactions.
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