I/We have been using Mint almost since it started. It has been an effective tool to keep my wife and me on the same page. It presents our budgets aligned with how we have spent money against that budget. It automatically gets all of our electronic transactions from our accounts. Then it does it’s best to align them with the correct categories. We learn and grow as a couple and family because of it. We also become better at communicating about finances because we’re all looking at the same thing. Today, I’m going to put together a little tutorial on using Mint.
- Go to mint.com which looks like this:
- Click the orange button in the upper right hand corner labelled “Sign Up”.
- All you need is an email address and a password. It’s simple. Fill out the form and click the blue sign up button:
- Then enter your country and zip code and click the blue continue button:
- Then you can choose your first account provider:
- And complete your security questions etc.
- Finally they will show you all your accounts. Here you can set the account types and specific names in Mint. We use names like Brian’s Checking, Brian’s Savings, Leah’s Checking, Leah’s Savings, etc. You can go through the steps to add additional accounts on this page.
- The right sidebar will show a bunch of optional steps you could take:
- Once you’re done adding accounts and close the Accounts Panel, you’ll receive a tour invitation. It is worth going through as it describes all of the features on the Overview page.
- Now to work through the key tool where Mint gives us financial success. The Budget. Click “BUDGETS” on the top menu:
- On the budget page, you’ll see that Mint tried to use your banking transactions to create a budget for you:
- When your mouse hovers over a budget category, it will highlight and give you some options
- Clicking on the title, “Entertainment: Movies & DVDs” in this case, it will take you to a list of the transactions in your bank accounts for the month that were assigned to this category.
- Clicking “EDIT DETAILS” will open a pop-up to edit the amount to budget for the item.
- Within the “EDIT DETAILS” pop-up you can set the budget amount for the item for the month. If this item isn’t really part of your budget you can remove the items from your budget as well.
Some of the neat things here are the “When will this happen?” features. The simplest is “Every Month” which will set the budget item to the amount you set each month. You can always go in when a new month starts and set a new amount. “Every Few Months” is a helpful feature that will set up a monthly budget to save towards something. We use this to save for our auto insurance every 6 months. Sure, they have a monthly payment plan but when we pay for six months we don’t have to pay the added fees–you may not even notice them–for the monthly program. It automatically determines how much you need to set aside each month to reach that goal by the payment date. “Once” is used when we have something that we want to save for in the future and we want to save for it month by month. Play with the settings and see how it works out. As always, I’d be happy to help you out if you get stuck.
- So edit each of the budget items that are on the list that you have in your budget and delete the one’s you’re not using.
- At the top of the page there is a “CREATE A BUDGET” button. Use that to add all the other budget items you need to complete your budget.
- Remember to include a “Everything Else” Budget at the bottom by clicking the little + by it:
- With a complete budget, lets look at the imported transactions. From the top menu click “Transactions”. This will take you to the page to assign every transaction to the correct categories for your budget.
- Look through the items downloaded from your bank and edit the category that was assigned to them if necessary. Notice the option to add/edit the categories to help provide better details as to where your money is going.
- Now for the key part, go back to your budget and see how you’re doing. Green means you’re on target and red means you’ve gone over your budget:
- Go down to the bottom of the budget after you have classified all of the transactions and look for the section called “Everything Else”. This section is important because it lists everything that you haven’t set up a budget for organized by category. You may want to add these right away to modify your budget or consider adding them onto next months budget.
This “Everything Else” is the teaching tool that helps you see what you’ve forgotten to budget. The little pluses to the right enable you to easily set up a budget item for the category and get it out of everything else. It is our goal to have nothing in the “Everything Else” category because we plan to tell every dollar where it should go instead of wondering where it went.
Please add questions and insights to the comments below. I want to see you be successful with your money and become the next “Millionaire Next Door.”