Thursday, July 30, 2015

Personal Capital or Mint?

The online financial community has a plethora of options available to them to manage their financial lives online.  I'd like to talk about two of the better options out that, the benefits, and the detractors of each.  These services are Mint and Personal Capital, both linked for convenience and not to generate a referral bonus.  Each of the companies do some things extraordinarily well in their current iterations, but of course each has room for improvement as well.  So which is better?

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a fantastic free online tool that allows you to see your overall net worth, manage your accounts, and see trends over time.  I personally like this tool to track net worth as it provides easy to read graphs and trending over the month to see where your money has gone.  To top it off it allows you to see how you are allocated by sector and determine if you are overweight or underweight a particular asset class.  To me it's a really cool tool to see where everything is without having to create all of my own custom tools to do so.

Another cool tool is the ability of Personal Capital to recognize my pension versus my 401k.  Yes I'm one of the few that still has both and I'm extremely lucky to be in this camp.  Personal Capital is able to pull this data in, while Mint is unable to do so.

So what's the downside?  On occasion Personal Capital will lost track of your accounts, which causes fluctuations in the graphs.  I'm not really sure why this occurs, but on a fairly consistent basis it loses touch with my Ameritrade account and my net worth falls a hundred thousand dollars.  This makes it difficult to see the true trending of my accounts as having my net worth crater once a month skews the actual results.  In addition to this Personal Capital does not really update as quickly as its peer and credit transactions take longer to update.

Mint is another fantastic free online tool to help you manage your money,  It really is a simple interface and anyone who was familiar with Quicken will recognize many of the same features.  Mint was ultimately purchased by Intuit and supplements the Quicken experience.  I like Mint for a variety of reasons.  First it updates faster than Personal Capital.  It recognizes pending transactions and reports on them ASAP.  This is really nice for when I get paid and when I purchase any items as bank accounts reflect things a day earlier than Personal Capital will.   In fact Mint recognizes pending transactions on my credit card within five minutes of the actual purchase.  This really provides a truer perspective on where my money is at all times.  FANTASTIC!

The downside to Mint?  Well first it doesn't recognize my pension.  In fact it can't even find it even though it's located on the same site as my 401k.  Somewhat surprising and disappointing, but I make due.  Second, the graphs are not as robust or as helpful as Personal Capital.  In fact, in my opinion, the long term trending of Mint is pretty abysmal.  I like it for it's short term and the ability to see where my money has gone recently.

So Who Wins?
In the case of Personal Capital versus Mint I can clearly state that the winner is......

Neither.  Both have their perks and detriments, but neither is really superior to the other.  In fact I would argue that to truly understand your current fiscal state the use of both is necessary.  I like facets of both  products and encourage those seeking financial freedom to use them.  But understand that there are some limitations to them and knowing that they are tools to help watch your overall goals.  

So what are your thought?  Which tools do you use to manage your financial life?

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