Sunday, May 9, 2010

Loving me some mint!

I'm not sure if I manage my money like most people but I'm sure falling in love with Mint.  To be fair I've only been seriously using it for the past week of so but I've but with a key workaround I've managed to replace Money with Mint.  Yes, I know Money has been discontinued by Microsoft so I could move to Quicken.

I signed up for Mint several months ago but they just recently added my bank so I can manage my checking and savings accounts.  The charts are great.  The quick links that show my spending in a given category are nice.  And the budget tracking and alerts are awesome.  They also recently added a feature that allows you to manually add a "pending" transaction.  This is part of what I needed to fully move.  The other thing was the ability to "reconcile" transactions against the bank.  This is where the workaround comes in.

The way mint works is that you login and then it downloads transactions from your bank and shows you all non-pending transactions along with your current balance.  Seeing my current balance is nice but I also want to see money spent on things that have not cleared yet such as bills paid or large expenditures I just made.  This is where the manual add comes in.

To reconcile your receipts to the bank you have to be a little clever.  You have to use the tags feature of Mint.  First, create a new tag called 'Checked'.  You can call it whatever you like but I thought 'Checked' sounded good.  Then you need to apply the 'Checked' tag to all of your transactions that you are satisfied are correct.  My guess, at this point, is that is all of them.

The next thing is to understand that when new transactions come in they have no tags applied.  So, to see all transactions that are 'not checked' then you simply need to do a search.  Enter this in the search box -tag:Checked.  That means find me all transactions that are not checked.  Then, compare each one with the receipts you have and apply the checked tag appropriately.

It's actually very easy.  Now you have the power of mint with the ability to add pending transactions and reconcile your account with your receipts.  Nice.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My 30 days on OS/X - day 6

Well, I've only had to run back to Windows once.  I have VNC installed on my Windows 7 Media Center computer but somehow I just couldn't get Chicken of the VNC to work right and  we were having a volume issue.

So far what's the verdict?  Well, there are some things I really like and some things I don't.  Here's a breakdown of the software I was using on Windows, what I'm using on Mac, and if it's better or worse.

  • HydraIRC is  a great Windows IRC client.  On the Mac I'm using Colloquy and I must say I prefer Colloquy.  It's faster to connect and has a better default profile for notifying you when things happen.  With HydraIRC you could easily miss a PM. Not going to happen with Colloquy.

  • Skype is skype

  • I use Digsby for IM, Facebook, and Twitter on Window.  On the Mac, I'm using Adium for IM and Facebook and Twhirl for twitter.  This is a push.  I prefer how Adium handles conversations but prefer Digsby for twitters.

  • Use Chrome for browsing on both but I have to say that I prefer Chrome on Windows.

  • I love how Apple Mail handles mail.  The keyboard interface is great and the find is awesome.  Much better than Thunderbird. I also love the LDAP integration with Address Book (seeing my co-workers pictures in mail is great)

  • iMovie is GarageBand is better than anything at the same price on Windows

  • iPhoto is ok

I still plan on finishing my 30 day experiment.  Will I stay on OS/X after the experiment is over?  I doubt it.  There's simply not enough 'can't live without' features on OS/X to justify the pain.  Ok, back to work.