My Favorite Budgeting Tools (Because Mint Wasn’t Great Anyway)

The surprising news that Mint is discontinuing its budgeting software is sure to leave its millions of users scrambling for a new way to manage their money. So, what are some of the best alternatives to Mint (spoiler: I believe it’s YNAB and Tiller Money!) and what steps should you take next?

Step 1. Recognize It As An Opportunity

Okay, so this may not make you feel much better if you’ve been an avid Mint user. But… to be honest, Mint really wasn’t a great budgeting solution anyway. It’s not one that I’ve ever even recommended unless someone was really set on a free option and won’t really spend hardly any time at all—even to categorize transactions—other than occasionally checking in on spending.

Mint is very reactive (versus proactive) and focuses more on restricting spending than fostering a good relationship with money. Factor in all the ads and credit card offers, and it’s just not something I could ever get excited about.

Sometimes being forced to make a change results in an opportunity to reflect and make more intentional choices. So, please, don’t just give up on maintaining a budget altogether. Lean into the change, and it can literally pay off for you. Like in actual dollars, but also in increased confidence around money, which is just as valuable.

Step 2.  Choose an Alternative Solution to Mint (Like YNAB or Tiller)

There are a gazillion budgeting solutions out there, but I always come back to two tried-and-true recommendations: YNAB and Tiller Money. Of course, the best budgeting software is the one you actually will use, and that may be different for everyone.

Note: I do not have any kind of financial relationship with either of these companies; they are just ones I love and use personally!

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

YNAB is hands-down the best budgeting-focused software. It’s proactive. It focuses on creating a positive relationship with money. Their marketing is silly and fun (but for real, check out this playlist). What else could you possibly want in a budget?!

The only downside is that it does require some research and effort to learn the YNAB philosophy (but remember what a great opportunity this is to learn a better way?!).

My favorite features of YNAB include:

    • Automatic import from accounts
    • Ability to budget all of your available funds, not just income
    • Functionality to “roll over” categories to future months (great for savings buckets!)
    • Scheduled transactions
    • Targets (i.e., goals for categories)

For someone with variable income (like myself!), it’s a great tool to ensure that you’re saving adequately for future expenses. I’ve used YNAB for 7+ years now to keep track of my budget and reach my financial goals.

Tiller Money

Others who don’t necessarily need or want the detailed budgeting capabilities of YNAB or find that it doesn’t resonate with them personally may find Tiller Money to be the right solution for them.

This might include those who have pretty regular spending patterns, don’t struggle with overspending, and have other solutions for tracking savings toward specific financial goals. Generally, I recommend it for people who are mainly focused on tracking (but not necessarily budgeting) their income and expenses efficiently.

Some of my favorite things about Tiller include:

      • Ability to automatically pull detailed transactions and account balance information directly into a spreadsheet
      • Detailed templates, including some created by their community
      • Complete customizability (you can create your own spreadsheet and link it to Tiller’s Feed)
      • Ability to set up and run automatic categorization rules for transactions
      • Great customer service

Y’all already know I’m an absolute spreadsheet nerd. I use Tiller to pull balance history into my own personal finance spreadsheet in order to track my net worth efficiently and monitor my balances. I’ve also used it in the past to track rental and business finances.

Step 3. Export Your Information from Mint

Based on my research, it looks like Mint users will have until approximately February 1st to download their data from Mint, although budgeting functionality will be limited on January 1st. However, it is likely in your best interest to back up your data as soon as possible before then to make sure the process is seamless.

I recommend exporting the following data:

        1. Transactions for as long as you have data available in Mint (Transactions > Gear Icon and select “Export transactions”)
        2. Spending by category (Trends > Spending > By Category) for each year you’ve been using Mint (using the filters to create a custom date range)
        3. Assets over time for as long as you have data available in Mint (Trends > Assets > Over Time and then select and export each individual account you want to backup the balance history)
        4. Liabilities over time for as long as you have data available in Mint (Trends > Liabilities > Over Time and then select and export each individual account you want to backup the balance history)

This information will be much harder to get later, so even though it may not have a full year’s worth of data yet for 2023, I still recommend doing this now and then you can certainly go back and get the remaining information at the end of December. Find a good show on Netflix and it will make the process go faster!

Step 4. Make Sure You’re Set Up for the New Year

If you are meticulous about tracking your finances (like me!), you’ll want to make sure you have a new budgeting software set up well before the new year begins.

YNAB, Tiller Money, and most other budgeting software programs have a free one-month trial so that you can make sure they are the right solution before purchasing a subscription. I recommend utilizing this time to get set up or, even better, to run simultaneous budgets in both Mint and the new program. This will ensure that you’re able to quickly get up to speed and hit the ground running in the new year.

If you’re interested in using YNAB, the following resources will help you to get set up quickly:

And for those wanting to use Tiller Money, I recommend the following:

Final Thoughts

When you’re ready to make the change from Mint (or even if you’re not…sorry folks!), it’s important to do your research and figure out the best solution that will help you reach your financial goals. There are plenty of FinTech solutions out there to choose from, and while I personally recommend YNAB and Tiller Money, the important thing is that you don’t let this derail you from being intentional with your spending.

I’d love to know, what is your plan for tracking cash flow in the new year if you were a previous Mint user?

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10 Responses

    1. Great question! I think it depends on what you’re planning to use for your personal expenses after switching from Mint (using the same one will make things a lot easier!). Otherwise, I would say probably Tiller since you can add on sheets for any additional business metrics you want to track.

  1. What’s going to set me up best to do my taxes for my LLC?. I tracked all my expenses with mint — it wasn’t about budgeting. I used it instead of Quicken/quickbooks (which is anything but fast). Then to lose all those years of data if I don’t download it. I have accounting ptsd already!

    1. If you’re looking for a more accounting-focused alternative to Quickbooks, you could try Wave (free). Otherwise, consider trying out whatever you’re using for your personal budgeting and see if it will work for business as well. The key with any of these is to make sure your categories are set up to optimize and break out tax-related items.

  2. I am a mint user was trying monarch it’s kind of expensive but so ins YNAB I tried both just not sure I am not much of a spreadsheet person. I do use wave for business . But looking for something for personal . I transfer money between accounts and also have savings that I keep track of . I do like the budgeting part of it.. YNAB does have a learning curve and I am self employed and my income changes any suggestions would be appreciated thank you

    1. I might be biased because I use YNAB personally (and I have very variable income as well!). But, I do think it’s absolutely worth the learning curve to learn to make it work for you, especially when income is more unpredictable. I like that I can allocate my money to categories ahead of time when income is higher and not look at things on just a monthly basis (i.e. when income is lower than expenses for certain months).
      You could also try setting up personal categories in a separate Wave account and see if that works for you!

    1. Here are some I’ve heard are really good: Empower (if you also want to track investments) and Rocket money (has free and paid). I’ve also heard good things about Simplifi, which is $24/year right now. It sounds counterintuitive to pay for a budgeting app, but a good one will save you time and keep your financial information more private (not to mention no ads!).

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welcome!

I’m Kathryn Hanna-wife, mother of 3 and a Certified Public Accountant. I love to budget (really, I do!) , build spreadsheets and spend money on travel, sewing supplies and good chocolate.

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