If you’re an avid Mint.com user then you probably noticed the recent addition of the Cash Account. If you haven’t noticed, then you’re not tracking your finances very closely! Either way…the new account was created to accumulate all of your cash withdrawals. If you’ve been correctly recording all cash transactions then this account is very useful. The balance in this account is the cash that you’ve withdrawn from an ATM but haven’t accounted for in Mint.
However, this feature was rolled out with no warning, and it’s a feature that many users do not want. For example, I treat ATM cash withdrawals as petty cash and I don’t typically record what I spend it on. I know I use the money for food, entertainment, etc. The amount is typically small so I don’t waste the time to record the details. I prefer to just track my electronic transactions and then assume the petty cash is used for those expenses I listed above. But because I don’t record these cash transactions, when Mint implemented this new account I ended up with a new cash asset on my balance sheet, which was throwing off my net worth. It’s clear I don’t have this $2k sitting under a mattress, yet Mint was including this cash account in my Net Worth.
Unfortunately, this is probably a feature that’s all-or-nothing. While there has been no official comment from Mint on the new account, I doubt it’s something that will be able to either be enabled or disabled. Because it seems so integrated into the system as a whole, Mint will either need to remove the cash account from everyone, or ignore the pleas of its customers.
Until this issue is resolved, I’ve decided to work-around the feature by inputting a cash transactions to offset this balance. Because most people didn’t start their Mint account in 2007, it’s actually fairly easy to do this without messing up records in current years. What I did was enter an expense transaction into the cash account on 12/31/2007 that was for the exact amount of my current cash balance. You can see my entry below.
This entry zeroes-out my cash balance so that it shows as $0 on my balance sheet. Each time I withdraw money from the bank I’ll need to go back and adjust that entry to incorporate the newly withdrawn money. I’ll probably just do this at the end of each month. While I absolutely hate using workarounds for products (I like things to “just work”), this is the best I’ve got for now.