Weekly output: FTC/DOJ merger guidelines, Intuit updates Mint, proposed “surveillance advertising” ban

This was a reasonably relaxed week, along the lines of what I hope for after CES every year.

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari on an iPad. 1/18/2022: FTC and DOJ: Have We Been Getting Digital Mergers Wrong? Let Us Know, PCMag

If two companies that already don’t charge for their basic services propose a merger, can federal regulators fairly judge that corporate combination by a standard centered on consumer prices?

1/19/2022: Intuit Updates Mint With Bill Negotiation, Premium Tier, PCMag

News of a new premium tier for Intuit’s personal-finance app allowed me to revisit Mint’s problematic history under Intuit’s ownership.

1/19/2022: RIP Online Ads? Proposed Bill Would Ban ‘Surveillance Advertising, PCMag

I wrote about yet another bill introduced to regulate large tech companies, which I don’t expect to fare any better in this Congress than prior proposed tech-policy bills.

My continued struggles with quarterly accounting

Four times a year, I partake in a ritual that reminds me of my limited cash-flow competence–and of how a certain large personal-finance firm just doesn’t care.

Adding up my income and expenses after each quarter instead of at the end of the year is Accounting 101, but because I stumbled into a freelance existence it took a few years of struggling through tardy bookkeeping to get myself in the habit.

Several years of this practice have now streamlined this to a manageable level of drudgery, but the first step remains as irritating as ever: downloading records from Intuit’s Mint.com personal-finance app.

I know, I know; Intuit runs this free Web app so poorly that it still seems to require Adobe Flash to display investment charts. (I can’t confirm that at the moment because Mint’s investment page won’t load.) But for my limited expense-tracking needs, it functions well enough most of the time.

And then there’s the other four times a year, when I need to edit a Mint Web address to work around its bizarre inability to search transactions by date. Yes, to see only transactions for the second quarter of 2019, I need to edit this page URL:


This address will cause Mint to show just Q2 transactions:


Then I can search for those tagged as “Freelance journalism,” download the results as a .csv file, and import that into the Google spreadsheet I use to track my expenses.

There, I still need to piece apart payments, reimbursements and different categories of expenses. But in general I’m only looking at half an hour of copying and pasting to know how I made my money and where I spent it–assuming I didn’t forget to tag a transaction in Mint, which has happened more than once.

Whether the results make me happy is another thing entirely. In this case, my problem is a June that fell between too many clients’ payment timetables and also suffered from a snakebit May for story pitches… well, let’s just say the resulting paltry income might suggest that I got a lot more done around the house than I actually did.

Fortunately, I had two large checks arrive in the mail July 1, so Q3 is off to a fine start. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself now.