No, I'm NOT $300 over my shopping budget!
April 5, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get more out of, but can't figure out how to do what I'd like to do. The crux of the problem is that mistakenly identifies some of my recurring monthly expenses as being payments to Marshall's (the store). Payments that assumes are to Marshall's are actually to more than one payee, and the Rules feature doesn't seem to be customizable enough to handle that.

My first name happens to be Marshall, and I wonder if that might have something to do with it. If not, it's a weird coincidence. Mint's tech support and forums haven't been helpful (yet) so I'm turning to the hive mind.

Since this happens with more than one payee, I can't simply create a rule that renames transactions supposedly involving Marshall's to a different name, because that will rename multiple transactions to the same new name when they should each be identified by different names.

Is there a way to create a rule based on the amount of the transaction, not just by the name of the payee? That would make the Rules feature even more useful, and it would solve this problem. "If it's X amount and it's going to Y payee, don't assume this is a shopping expense to Marshall's." That's what I would like to see, but I can't figure out how to make that work. Any ideas?
posted by emelenjr to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What are the underlying transaction names? (click "edit details" in the transactions page) Are these set up through online billpay or something? If the "real" transaction names are too similar, maybe you can rename the accounts somehow in your billpay site to "trick" mint into distinguishing them as different?
posted by misterbrandt at 10:09 AM on April 5, 2009

Maybe set a rule that changes anything with "Marshall" or whatever is triggering its rule to something like "NEED TO CHANGE"? Then when you look at it you can change them?
posted by raf at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2009

Oh, and it looks like Mint doesn't let you set rules based on the amount of a transaction. You might consider switching to Yodlee Moneycenter, which has all of Mint's features (except the compare-your-spending-to-others feature and the ways-to-save tab) plus many more (useful manual accounts!) in a slightly more complicated user interface. Yodlee is actually the back-end service provider for Mint, so they support all the same accounts. Yodlee definitely lets you set rules based on transaction amount.
posted by raf at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: The "need to change" flag seems to be the best option so far, so thanks for that suggestion, raf. How strange that Yodlee provides the back-end for Mint, but Mint doesn't provide what I would consider a pretty critical feature that Yodlee provides. Right now, every time a payment goes out for my car loan, my mortgage payment and my condo association dues, Mint seems to pick up my first name in the transaction information and disregards any other helpful details that it could use to correctly identify the payee. That's the only reason I can think of that Mint thinks I'm doing a lot of shopping at Marshall's.
posted by emelenjr at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2009

There are several things Mint doesn't do that seem like no-brainers to me. Like let you track your net worth / savings over time. Or let you have a manual bank account. (You can put in an asset like a car or home, but it doesn't let you put in transactions or anything.) They seem to have concentrated on the spending side of things, which seems to miss the boat when savings are as important or more so.

Having said that, I use mint all the time and think it has a lot to recommend it.
posted by raf at 11:59 AM on April 5, 2009

Mint gets their data from Yodlee, but Mint applies different algorithms to try to categorize your purchases; they use their own. Yodlee is the backend data handler; they push the transaction details through, and manage the account information and logins--Yodlee also does this for a bunch of other financial institutions that offer account consolidation services, which is why I trust them.

That said, I've had trouble with Mint's overzealous transaction matching before; they've gotten better, but stuff like your scenario is simply beyond their means presently to handle automatically.
posted by disillusioned at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2009

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