I use Mint for tracking finances. It’s not a love affair by any stretch. The interface is clunky—recent updates have made it look better, though it’s slow as molasses and incredibly kludgy—and having financial data in the cloud sometimes makes me nervous. But Mint transaction rules leave a lot to be desired.
It’s convenient. It pulls data from all of the various financial institutions we use (and does it for free… trying to do that with iBank, Quicken, or GnuCash, all of which I’ve tried, usually incurs a monthly fee from each bank) and puts it in a centralized place, which helps keep things organized. I’m much more likely to notice when we’re off budget, or if someone has stolen my card and is buying a bunch of junk from a Walmart in Florida.
One area where it should be best in class is in Mint Transaction Rules. For those not aware of the concept, bank line item records are sometimes a bit obtuse. Take this transaction from my bank: Point of Sale Debit L340 TIME 11:15 AM DATE 06-18 AIRPORTRDFAMILY CHAPEL HILLNC.
I don’t need to know most of that information. All I need to know is where the transaction took place. So I want my financial tool to separate the wheat from the chaff and give me useful information.
What does Mint do?
Every transaction from that bank has “L340” somewhere in it. It has “TIME” and “DATE” there, too. Based on a cursory Google search, I’m not the only one whose bank uses these terms in its transactional metadata. And yet this happens all the time in Mint.
You’d think that a tool which is as popular as Mint, which stores zettabytes of financial data, and tons of users going in every day and renaming transactions would be a little smarter.
Like I said, there are Mint Transaction Rules which give you the ability, say, to manually teach Mint that this particular transaction is not from “L Time Date” but is from “Airport Road Family Fare”. I just type in the correct payee and check the box that says “Always rename…”
If I check that box, Mint’s going to rewrite any transaction called “L Time Date” to “Airport Road Family Fare”. But… there’s no actual transaction called “L Time Date” on my bank statement. That’s just the useless payee that Mint’s dumb-ass algorithm has invented. The moment I check that box, Mint starts renaming every debit transaction from my bank. Not helpful at all.
My question to the developers of Mint? Why doesn’t that checkbox say:
“Always rename Point of Sales Debit L340 TIME 11:15 AM DATE 06-18 AIRPORTRDFAMILY CHAPEL HILLNC as Airport Road Family Fare and categorize as Uncategorized.”
Use the full description from my bank. Or fix Mint Transaction Rules so they don’t suck. It doesn’t seem like that would be too hard to implement, and it would make your rename rules… truly rule.