TechTips Vol VI Website Mint.com

Did you save any money this month? How much did you spend on clothing, restaurants, lunch, coffee and cookies? Can you quickly calculate your net and liquid worth? Does all this sound a bit daunting? That’s because the past has ruined our expectations, not set them. The past is gone and Mint.com is here.

Mint.com was one man’s individual pursuit, now spoils, bought by Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks and Quicken. Mint.com is a true definition of Saas, Software as a Service. It is an online, web based, financial management tool freely and securely available to all those willing to participate.

What Mint Does

  • Links to all your monetary institutions
    • Fidelity, Bank of America, Citizens, Paypal, ING, Bank North, and mostly any other well known financial organization with online access.
  • Downloads information from each financial site regarding your current monetary standing and past transactions.
  • Auto categorizes each downloaded transaction into preset categories or unknown (if it doesn’t know)
    • Home – Mortgage, Improvements
    • Business- Supplies, Travel
    • Food and Dining- Alcohol, Coffee, Restaurants, Fast Food
    • and many more
  • If it does not categorize a purchase correctly you can properly assign the purchase and mint will learn from the corrections.
  • You can create custom categories if none are to your liking
  • Split transactions from one particular retailer for categorizing purposes
    • i.e. You spent $70 at CVS, for multiple purposes.
    • Split the transaction into $20 for Health- Hair Products
    • $25 for Pharmacy
    • $25 for Groceries

Mint.com

Here comes the fun part

  • Click on the planning button and you can set a budget for each month, each category.
  • i.e. Alot $300 a month to groceries
  • $100 a month to dining
  • $50 a month to clothing/shopping
  • $20 to Movies
  • etc.
  • As each day passes you can login to mint.com to see a green progress bar slowly, or quickly, consume your allocated budget amounts. Green turns red when you exceed your allotment.
  • When creating your budget you can enable each category for monthly rollovers. i.e. If you only spend $200 on groceries, you will get to spend $400 the next month. Contrarily if you spend $200 on dining (you go over your $100 budget), you will have $0 to spend on the next month.

Mind you, this is only as good as you abide by the rules you created.

Here is a demo of Mint

My quick and dirty 101 on creating a budget

Do this with Pen and Paper

  1. Total up your households’ monthly paychecks. (Everything goes downhill from here)
  2. Now figure out how much you need to spend for bare essentials, nothing fancy, you must be spartan for this step
  3. Groceries (We are not talking Sirloin Strips, but chicken, eggs, yogurt, milk, normal vegetables and fruit (not raspberries), shampoo, soap, gas, home utilities, mortgage/rent, car payments, loans, cell phone, etc.
  4. How much do you have left from item 1 after item 3? Still some savings?
  5. Now figure out not so bare essentials
  6. Gym, Dining out, Clothing, Movie Rentals, Coffee, Fun Groceries, etc.
  7. How much do you have left, Item 6 totals from item 4? Still some savings?
  8. Are you saving from anything in particular, a home, vacation, etc. Are those savings from item 7 enough? If not then something has to give.
  9. When you come to conclusion, enter it into the planning budget of mint. It is essential that you be realistic and brainstorm all your consistent spending categories. If you are way off, the budget will be useless and non-effective.
  10. Now, go live your life and after a month login and look at the data. Did we calculate the budget well, if not reassess. Did you spend within limit, if not learn.
  11. I do this 30 minutes a week to stay focused, not fall behind, and learn.

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