207’s tech guy runs through the alternatives, both free and paid.

PORTLAND, Maine — Intuit announced this month that it’s shutting down its popular app Mint, a decision that surprised and angered many users. 207’s tech guy, Rich Brooks with Flyte New Media in Portland, joined us to talk about what happened and what alternatives users might want to consider. Here are the talking points Rich provided:

 207: “So, what exactly is Mint, and why is it going away?”

Rich: “Mint is a free budgeting app that started as an alternative to Quicken, which was a paid budgeting app owned by Intuit. With Mint, userslike mecould connect it to our bank accounts, credit cards, and other investments and Mint would categorize your spending and savings. You could also use it to set up budgets for things like housing, eating out, or saving for college.

“It became so popular that Intuit decided to buy it back in 2009. And all this time, Intuit has allowed Mint to run as a free alternative to Quicken. But apparently, that time is over as they look to ‘streamline’ their offerings.”

207: “And how have Mint’s 3.6 million users reacted?”

Rich: “They hate it. They don’t like that this useful, free app is being discontinued. The timeline is another issue, giving users only two months over the holiday season to find an alternative.

“Intuit has stated that Mint users should switch to its other product, Credit Karma, but since that doesn’t offer any of the budgeting tools, most users feel like that’s a poor substitute.”

207: “What should Mint users do?”

Rich: “Well, if you want to move to Credit Karmawhich is also freeyou can, and Intuit has made it very easy. However, once you switch, it appears you can’t switch back. If you don’t want to switch to Credit Karma, you have the option to back up all of your information and delete it from their servers.

“You can import some of your Mint data to some other budgeting apps, but from what I’ve seen online, it can often be flaky and not all the information comes over.”

207: “What are some of the alternatives out there for Mint users?”

Rich: “There are many, both free and paid. However, it’s important to know that each app is different, has different strengths, different weaknesses, and none of them are exactly like Mint. Whatever you end up going with, it’s going to take some getting used to.

“That being said, here are a few alternatives:

“The first one is Empowerformerly Personal Capital. It connects with your accounts, allows you to create budgets, and track your net worth. Also, like Mint, it’s free. Some people complain that you can’t track alternative investments like real estate.

“Another good option would be YNAB, formerly You Need a Budget. The focus of YNAB is to help you get debt-free. You can connect to your accounts automatically, and YNAB almost acts like a money coach for you, helping you put every dollar to work. It costs $99 a year.

“The third option I’ll mention is Simplifi. This is also an Intuit product, and many people feel that it’s similar to Mint. However, it doesn’t offer multiyear trends and you have to manually enter non-cash assets like houses or cars. While not free, it’s under $3/mo.”

207: “And what do you recommend?”

Rich: “There’s really no one-size-fits-all. Some tools are good for budgeting, others better for tracking investments. Some are best for tracking your spending, while others focus on putting every dollar to work for you. Are you looking for help saving up for your first home, or planning for retirement? And with prices from free to $100/annually, cost will be a factor as well.

“Those three I mentioned are good places to start, but we’ve included some additional resources on the 207 website. So, my final word of advice is to do your own homework, but to do it quickly.”

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