One of the things I like most about Mint.com is using it to set up a budget and then track how we're following it.
I showed you last time that the budget shows up on the front page.
If you go to the planning tab at the top, you can see it up close:
This is our budget, with all our major categories, and our estimated total per month for each ones. The colors are to show you how you're doing - green means you've still got money left in the budget, yellow means you've hit the budget, and red means you've gone over.
On the left side, in that green box, it tells you how much of your budgeted money you have left, if any.
To set up your budget, you go the Planning tab, and click "Create a Budget:"
This screen will pop up:
If you choose a category from the drop down menu and you already have Mint hooked up to your accounts and it's pulled your recent transactions, it will make a guess at what your budget should be. For example, when I chose "Hair" as the category (it's actually a subcategory under "Personal Care"), it said we'd spent on average $10 a month on haircuts. You can choose to have it be a monthly, every few months, or one time budget, and then the amount you want the budget to be. Click Save and ta-da! Hair is now part of your budget.
You can keep on adding budgets for different categories until you have all your basic categories covered.
The "Make this Budget roll over" feature is one of my favorites.
In some cases, you don't want or need a budget to roll over - say Bart doesn't get a haircut one month because he's traveling and just doesn't get the chance. You don't need that money to roll over into the next month, because he won't get his hair cut TWICE the next month to make up for it.
Our allowances, however, we do have roll over each month. If we don't spend part or all of our personal allowances in a month, the extra money rolls into the next month, so that instead of having only $50, you might have $75. You'll notice that Bart practically never spends his allowance, so his continues to grow at an alarming pace. When he comes home with a ten thousand inch TV, I won't be able to say anything.
One other cool thing. On the home page, where the budget shows up when you log in, you'll notice a line through the middle of your budget chart. This shows you where you are in the month so you can see if you're on track with your spending. If you've spent 90% of your grocery budget and the month is only 1/3 over, well, that might be a problem.
Any questions about that? I'll try and answer them in the comments or in another post next week if there are a lot.