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Miss Mint? Here’s how business reporters budget

Tony Wagner Feb 23, 2024
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The very last holdouts will lose their access to Mint in a month.

Mint was one of the very first budgeting apps out there, and its many devoted users were sent scrambling last year when parent company Intuit announced the shutdown. Intuit also owns Credit Karma, which it’s presenting as a free improvement on Mint, and TurboTax, which just got in trouble for falsely advertising as “free.” 

Credit Karma was designed as a credit monitoring app, and while it’s taken on some of Mint’s money tracking features, it doesn’t have the same budgeting tools. Peruse the r/mintuit subreddit and you’ll find dozens of dissatisfied threads and hundreds of angry comments.

You’ll also find aggrieved Mint refugees on the subreddit for Simplifi, Quicken’s rival app. I’ve used Simplifi for a few years and found it adequate, but reading about Mint’s beloved features has made me wonder what I’d been missing. Other former Mint users are hyping up Monarch Money, a newer budget app run by a former Mint staffer.

Our show is about life and how money messes with it, but what happens when your financial life gets upended by the whims of a huge corporation? I can’t tell you how to budget your money, but I do have a bunch of colleagues with decades of collective experience reporting on businesses and the economy, so I asked them what tools they use to manage their household budgets. Here’s what they told me.

Virginia K. Smith, editor: I use an app called Daily Budget. It’s very manual — you enter all of your monthly recurring expenses and income yourself, versus hooking up various accounts. To me this is a strong selling point; I used Mint for years but it was so glitchy and unreliable at pulling data from various sources (the quality went way down after Intuit bought them), I actually find it an easier and more pleasant user experience to do it all myself. Anyway, you enter your monthly income and expenses, and Daily Budget comes up with the amount of money you have to spend each day. You also enter in all your individual transactions, and the number goes up or down depending on how much you’ve spent. It’s definitely not for everybody, but I like being hands on with it, and having the daily number right there helps me understand how much wiggle room I have, more than any other budgeting system ever has!

Justin Ho, reporter: I use Quicken Classic for almost everything. It lets me track all of our accounts in one place, and it lets me manually schedule future credit card payments and other bills. That way, I can figure out how much cash I’ll need to keep in my checking account, and how much I can stow away. The budgeting feature is pretty good, as long as your transactions are categorized correctly. That part can be a little tedious, but I kind of enjoy making sure every new transaction is labeled right. I’m actually using the same Quicken file that my dad set up for me when I was seven years old, back when I was recording my allowance and tooth fairy money.

Matt Levin, reporter: I was a diehard Mint user. Half the value was therapeutic: Idly categorizing the week’s transactions to alleviate the grip of Sunday night anxiety disorder. It was also very helpful in spousal money disputes — “I told you, we spent $3,423.” I tried the corporately recommended switch to Credit Karma, it sucks. Instead of finding another viable tool, I’ve just decided to spend recklessly and blame Intuit for not being able to retire. I guess I’ll check out Simplifi…

Ellen Rolfes, newsletter writer: Many people call YNAB (You Need a Budget) a cult, because the people who use it can’t stop talking about it. I’ve been a devoted user for more than seven years. I like that I can make as many categories for my spending as I want and that those categories are specific to me. I also find it useful to save for things I’ll have to spend money on in the future, like my motorcycle insurance, which I pay annually, or buying a new computer when my current one eventually dies.

Kimberly Adams, host of “Make Me Smart”: I used Mint for years, checking almost daily because I’m always paranoid about identity theft and want to look out for unusual purchases. Since Mint shut down, I haven’t really developed a new system. I have a folder on my phone with all my bank and credit account apps, and I just sort of cycle through them every few days to make sure I’m not missing anything. 

I am terrible at budgeting, although one of my goals this year is to get better at it. My general strategy is that after each paycheck, I look at which bills are coming due before my next paycheck, and figure out how much I’m going to have left after that (usually with just a pen and paper). Once I know what’s going to be left, I allocate that extra towards whatever goal I have at the time (debt payoff, building up my emergency fund, saving for a trip, etc). It’s not a great system, but it usually works ok. 

Bridget Bodnar, director of podcasts: Ever since high school, I always had a special Moleskine-esque notebook, where I wrote down all my purchases and income, along with what I had moved into savings, but I never totaled anything. I found this sufficient up until the pandemic hit, around the time I had a second kid — it just takes time for a system like this.

Recently, I started using a spreadsheet I bought off Etsy. Each month I budget out what I expect to spend and then keep track of all my purchases. The spreadsheet does the work of helping me figure out which categories I’m doing most of my spending in, and track patterns over time. I kind of assumed that my grocery bill was probably my biggest expense, but a couple months of keeping track with this budget made me realize my biggest non-bill spending category is actually my two kids. So it’s been very helpful!

Are you a former Mint user, or do you have a budgeting tool you love that we didn’t mention? Write us at, or just fill out the form below! If we get enough good responses, we’ll collect them in a future newsletter.

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