Jan 29, 2010

Mint.com - Part 2 (Janssen)

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.

16 comments:

Nikki said...

Ok, I do actually have a question. I used Mint for a while, but most of the time it didn't recognize what my purchases were. For example, I'd put some gas in the car and it would just file it under "other" because it didn't know what the purchase was. Do you manually mark all your purchases as a certain category, or is there a way to get it to recognize what category they should be in?

I vaguely recall finding something that would allow me to categorize future purchases from the same place, but it never worked.

Janelle said...

Ooo, Nikki asked just what I was wondering. Does mint automatically assign a budget, or do you do it manually? And what if a purchase falls under two categories, like I picked up some groceries and clothing at costco, can I separate the purchase?

And I just read through the comments on the last mint post, and wondered what your response to the hacker-phobia was...

Janelle said...

And one more... what about cash? As that is not tracked, can you manually enter where you spend cash and how much you have on hand?

Tara said...

I tried to add my bank accounts and it found my banks but not my bank accounts. Bummer!!

Carly Jane said...

Here's my big drawback/hesitation moving from paper to mint... Sometimes (often? At least once a month) I spend money from two or more of my budgeting categories on the same receipt (ie a trip to Wal-Mart). I do the math at home and put the correct amounts (more or less with tax) in each of my categories. I hate buying things at the store on two receipts. Such a pain. Is there any sort of feature that lets you split your incoming transactions? And I'm as curious as the rest about mint knowing where to put things. That's my main drawback from using wells fargo's online budgeting features (as that's my bank).

Janssen said...

Carly Jane and Janelle - you CAN split transactions, which is great.

My next post will be about categorizing things correctly and tracking your transactions, so I'll cover all of those then! Thanks for asking!

Katie said...

My hubby and I have been using mint for 2 years now and it's AWESOME.

Mary said...

Janssen, as usual, you have convinced me. I am loving the idea of mint.com and am actually excited about the idea of budgeting!

Aleta said...

I also have a question.

Do you only have joint accounts? My husband and I have a joint account and then a personal account.

I use my credit card for both personal things and household things that will eventually be paid for out of our joint account.

I don't always want my husband to know where I'm spending my "personal" money. Like when I buy him a gift. (I'm not doing anything bad! :) )

Is there a way to "hide" some things? or have a budget within a budget? I hope I'm making sense....

thanks for the great ideas. we are trying to figure out if/when I get pregnant we will be able to afford to let me stay home! I'm hoping this mint.com helps us!

Kelly J. said...

I still hold that it kills me Mint doesn't have local banks :( I can only request my bank be added many times per month for so many months. And we're talking a pretty large bank in Rockford, not a one-off.

Alison Stewart said...

OK- this all sounds good....BUT- I use Quicken. We use two banks (don't get me started) have who knows how many accounts, blah, blah, blah. I'm sure Quicken has some type of budgeting thing....can you download your bank stuff to Mint? (forgive me, I didn't read part 1- I'll have to look at it)-could you just fly over and help me out :)!

Nate and Cami said...

Thanks for introducing us to mint.com - I didn't realize that they automatically make a budget for you. You can imagine my surprise when I got an email telling me I had spent more than I was supposed to on groceries. I absolutely had not! (That's when I started using the budget feature.)

Stacy said...

This website seems like it would save me a lot of time....honestly, we haven't really had a budget, but occasionally I make some sort of effort to track our expenses...I'm the worst accountant ever.

Carole said...

I love that it Mint.com send you an email letting you know that you're over your budget. It's like having your parents watching over your bank account. Too funny -- but in a good way!

Nikki said...

I have another budgeting question, which I'm hoping someone may know the answer to. Currently we have a balance on our credit card (unfortunately), and we are trying to get back down to $0. I a certain amount into our budget every month to put toward this credit card. Mint just cancels it out because it sees both our bank account and our credit card, and thus it sees that we took money out of our checking account, but also that we received the same amount of money on the credit card. So basically it thinks we never use that portion of our budget. Is there any way around that? Or do I just have to categorize the payment receipt as something other than "credit card payment" so it doesn't add money to our budget?

Isabel said...

Hi....look at me all reading your archives. (I knew Janet used Mint and since I'm new to it I went to her site to see what info she had on it...and found a link to your posts on Mint.) (So yeah, that's how I got lost in your archives.)

I've been using Mint for the last few months and so far I love it, but Mint looks differently now then it did when you posted the screen shots. I can't figure out how to create sub categories or roll over budget amounts (like in your hair cut situation). Does Mint still let you do these? And if so, how?

What other Mint secrets can you share?