Mint brings all your financial accounts
together online or on your mobile device,
automatically categorizes your transactions,
lets you set budgets and helps you achieve
your savings goals.
Since moving to the Seattle area, I’ve found that I need to bring in the reins on my spending by setting up a budget to keep me in line! I always used Mint.com back in Montana, but now I find it even more helpful than before with the various bank accounts I have now and the lack of extra cash. No more excessive spending on awesome and unique jars of gourmet peanut butter!!
That said I really wanted to show you all how amazing this easy and free service is!
First off, after a quick sign up, you need to set up your accounts. Mint makes this super easy to do be it an investment account, loan, real estate, or even a vehicle payment. You just click, search, put in your personal account numbers, and bam! Mint will extract the rest of the information. (I have found that Mint doesn’t work with every credit card though. For example, I ended up cancelling my GAP credit card because Mint couldn’t use it plus I really didn’t need it..)
Once your accounts are set up you’ll go to the Overview page. This page has so much important information on it! First off it lists your accounts on the left hand side showing your credits and debits. With some banks you’ll need to “refresh” your info each time you sign in because your bank has safety measures in place denying sites from extracting your info. This is a little hassle but rarely takes even a minute to fix each time you log in.
Also on the Overview page are your Alerts, which inform you of things like overspending or low balances, Advice, suggesting different credit cards to help you save money, Upcoming Bills, very useful for people who do all their bills online like me, and even your Budget and Trends which I’ll go into later.
At the top of the page you’ll see different tabs next to your Overview tab. The next one over is the Transactions tab, which shows you exactly that. It’s a display of every single transaction you do on all of the accounts you have connected to Mint.
On this page you can categorize each transaction to help your budget be accurate. Mint will do this automatically but sometimes you need to tweek it. For example, my pharmacy is also through QFC where I also buy groceries. Therefore I need to change the category to pharmacy instead of groceries (which is it’s main category).
Next up is the amazing Budgets tab. This tab lets you set up a budget inputting your income from various sources and your planned spending be it rent, groceries, or even shopping.
While you spend money that month, by looking at the category you assign to your transactions, your budget will keep track of all your spending and alert you to when you’ve met your cap.
The next tab is your Goals tab. This one is so awesome for helping you set aside money for a trip or even just an emergency fund. For example, I set up a goal to take a trip to San Diego. It let me set the duration of the vacation, number of travelers, and helped me figure out how much money I needed to save for the days I’ll be there.
It then asks me when I plan to take this trip and from that info and my income it will suggest how much I should be saving each month in order to meet my deadline.
I can then track my progress and make sure I am putting enough money aside to meet my goal.
The last thing I want to mention about Mint is the amazing Trends tab. This tab is very very helpful to see what you’ve been spending your money on this year compared to last year or even last month! Check out how much more I ended up spending in February (green bar, due to my move) than January (blue bar)!
I can use this information to see what I spend the majority of my money on (food!) and thus make note to watch my spending in that area!
I hope this little blurb on Mint has been informative and convinced you to give it a try if you need some help budgeting!
Do you have a budget?