If you ended up at this blog, I assume you are looking for a way to compare two financial website to see which might work best for your particular situation. I plan to use this blog to post about some of the various features the two sites share and compare them so you can hopefully learn enough about the sites to make an informed decision about which one to try.
I will try to keep this updated every couple days as I work my way through the various features. Please feel free to comment on the posts and let me know if I miss anything or if anything has changed.
Both Mint and Yodlee allow you to enter manual transactions if you know of something before it hits the accounts. Mint has very basic features and Yodlee has more advanced features.
With Mint, you have the ability to enter Date, Description, Category, and amount. You can also choose if it is Cash, a Check, or a pending transaction that will show up from the automatic download. When the pending transaction shows up, it will associated with it and then apply to the proper account.
With Yodlee, you have the ability to enter Date, Description, Category, and amount just like Mint. However, you also can enter the account it is for and you can make it recurring. So for any items you have that come out every month, you can add them in ahead of time to better forecast your cash flow ahead of time.
Mint has no recurring option so entering manual transactions ahead of time is a nightmare if you really want to enter all your transactions. However since Mint doesn’t have a running balance anyway, forecasting your cash flow is pretty near impossible. If you always have plenty of money in your account to cover everything, forecasting might not be a big deal. However, if you ever cut it close and need to know what your balance might be in a week, Yodlee can predict that much better.
As you record your purchases in any financial system, you will inevitably come across some transactions that need to be split amongst multiple categories. Both Mint and Yodlee can handle this, but Yodlee does it properly and Mint does it in a lame way.
When splitting a category in Yodlee 9, simply click the Split link, enter the appropriate amounts with the categories, and then save the changes. Yodlee will display the transaction in the normal list, but will show Split in the category column. When you click the item it will then expand to show you the individual categories.
When splitting categories in Mint, you have to expand the transaction by clicking Details. You then click the Split button. You enter in the appropriate amounts and categories and click Save. The difference is that Mint then removes the original transaction and replaces it with the split transactions in the main list. This causes all kinds of confusion because if you try to compare Mint’s transaction list with your bank or credit card statement or receipts, you won’t be able to match them up because it looks like multiple transactions instead of one.
No one seems to know why Mint chooses to handle split transactions in such a dumb way, but repeated requests for them to fix it have been ignored like most other bug fix requests on the Mint website. So, if you can live with this issue, that’s great. If you can’t, I wouldn’t hold your breath for Mint to fix it.
One thing I mentioned in the last post is how you can categorize transactions. This is one of the areas where the two programs vary greatly in the control you have.
Both systems provide you a predefined list of categories that you can choose from. However, they differ greatly in what you can do with those categories.
Mint.com let’s you add new sub-categories to the existing list, but you cannot remove, hide, or rename any of the predefined categories. This means that if they have an item under one category, and you’d rather have it under another category, you can add it to the new category but can’t remove it from the existing one so you’ll have doubles or you have to change the name of the one you add. This also means that when you go to select a category, you have to wade through all the ones you don’t want, and will never use, because there’s no way to get rid of them.
Yodlee, on the other hand, gives you full control of the categories. You can rename the ones they give you or you can just hide them completely. You can add sub-categories to any of the categories to truly customize the list exactly the way you want it.
Yodlee definitely wins in the Category department, but if you can live with the category layout that Mint provides, it works just as well.
One of the main screens that you will see when you use either system is the Transaction view. Before we go any further, it’s important to note that Yodlee has two versions of it’s program the “old” version is version 9 and the “new” version is version 10. The general consensus is that most people don’t like version 10. It’s very segregated, everything is in little boxes. It was written with Flash and is incredibly slow. Changing screens can take up to 15 seconds jut to load one page.
Most people have chosen to revert back to version 9 which you can do by clicking on the Yodlee Time Machine and choosing the version you want.
Below you can see screenshots of the three Transaction screens.
Yodlee Version 10
Yodlee Version 9
The basic information shown from all three systems is transaction data such as a description, date, category, and dollar amount. The one extra field is that Yodlee 9 (Y9) also shows the account that the item was from. In the other tow views you have to select the item to view the details to see which account the transaction belongs to.
In all three views, you can easily select to view transactions from only a specific account or to view transactions from all accounts. You can also change the description, category, or other information by simply clicking the item to change.
You can see that in Mint and Y9, the information is a simple web page that you can scroll through. They have no frills and load very quickly. You can choose how many transactions to display per page. In Y10 the transactions are shown in a small window. You can drag the bar down to view more but it’s not very easy to see a lot.
Also, the box on the right side of the screen in Y10 can not be removed. You can click the icon to shrink the box but you can’t remove it and can’t expand the transaction window to take up more space. Unfortunately when they tried to make Y10 look so “pretty” or “snazzy”, they did so at a huge loss of performance and usability.
Another difference is the look of changing categories. This is an example of the Bad Usability in Y10. In the images below, you can see that in Mint, you can see your whole category list when you want to reassign something. Y9 is similar as you get a large window to pick your categories. However, in Y10, you get a tiny, little window and have to scroll through your huge list. It’s very hard to miss what you’re looking for since you have such a tiny window.
That’s all for tonight. Next time we’ll look into some other differences you will encounter when working with transactions.
So before we compare the two systems, we should probably go over what they are.
In the simplest terms, Mine & Yodlee are two system that help you do your banking and finances. Both systems work by you providing your logins and passwords for all your financial websites (bank, credit cards, etc). The system then log into those sites on your behalf and download all your transactions. They then display them for you in a nice interface to keep everything all in one place.
Why are these system so nice? You don’t have to do anything except verify everything gets recorded properly. You don’t have to download your transactions from the bank. You don’t have to import them into an offline program. You don’t have to categorize most of the transactions.
When the systems work right, they are truly great and make tracking your finances really easy. However, neither system is perfect. Each has certain things they do great and certain things they do poorly. Hopefully after reading these posts, you will be able to try out the systems with ease since you’ll already know which piece of each system work well and which don’t.