Budgets Made Easy With Mint
Tired of tracking your spending? Want to actually watch your spending in real-time, AUTOMATICALLY? Curious about your net worth? Mint makes it easy – all in 15 minutes or less. AND IT’S FREE!
Mint is no cure-all. It’s not perfect. But for what it is – a tool to provide transparency to your lifestyle spending, see your entire financial picture, and track your net worth – Mint is just what you need to start being mindful of your money!
Plus, it’s actually fun! Don’t abandon all hope at keeping a budget because it’s just so tedious and cumbersome to track your receipts or download credit card data. Let Mint do it for you. It’s automatic and free.
How does it work?
1. Mint aggregates all your financial information
Think of Mint as your personal accountant recording and downloading every transaction from all your accounts (however many that is). You can even import your student loans, mortgage, property value, or any other asset that holds value worth selling.
For those of you who already clicked the link and created a profile and all of a sudden are prompted for your bank information…WHAT!?! Yeah. It’s ok. No one is going to steal anything. Mint is highly secure! It is owned by a Fortune company called Intuit (INTU) who specializes in financial preparation software.
Mint is a data-scraping website that simply READS the information from your financial accounts and imports it into their smart software. That is it! You can’t manage or transfer your money via this site. It just reports. Phew? Do you feel better? Good. Mint makes their money off of recommending brokerage accounts and credit cards based on your spending habits, not by selling the user upgrades or advanced features . The recommendations are well compartmentalized and don’t interfere with your user experience. They are merely an option if you want to explore. For this, I commend them!
Plus let Mint show you how financially disorganized you are. 3+ banks? 5+ credit cards? Really? Simplify! Consolidate!
Note: Mint may not be able to connect to all banks/credit cards. While they have gotten much better over time, there still may be inabilities to connect to less known websites.
2. Organize your spending into categories and budgets
As transactions are posted, Mint automatically categorizes your spending based on the vendor/merchant so that you don’t have to! You can manually override Mint’s defaults and Mint can learn your re-categorization patterns and classify correctly in the future. Simply select the Category from the drop down on the Transactions page.
Next, go over to the Budgets tab and set budgets for your critical categories. Mint will show you your relative performance, and even can send you notifications as your spending gets close or over the limit! Now, instead of spending marginally on impulse, Mint will let you know that you’ve already capped out, so you shouldn’t spend any more money. Flex your self denial muscles. You set that budget for a reason.
Plus, trying to achieve those budgets is a fun goal! Can you make it an entire month by having all green or yellow bars? Challenge accepted!
Remember, a budget is not simply recording what your money was spent on. A budget is proactively telling your money where it should go and what the limits are. Making a budget is easy. Sticking to it is hard work!
3. Mint helps you track your spending in real time
Mint should download 2 months of prior transaction history (perhaps more). First, see how much you’ve spent. Then, once your transaction data is live, use Mint to eliminate waste going forward. Be mindful of your purchases and set goals to spend less every month. It’s easy when you see the dollars counting up.
Additionally, since all your financial information is on one place, you can see your “Food Spend” all in one place, even if you’ve spent money of food across 2-3 credit/debit cards. This makes it much easier to stay on track!
Many of us fall into the trap of evaluating our spending on a marginal basis. As in, “What’s the harm of going out to dinner one extra time with friends?” Or, “I got a cup of coffee and have been reading a book for about an hour. Now I’m hungry. Perhaps I should get a pastry.” When you look at your credit card bill, you’ll shake your head at yourself saying, I didn’t really need to indulge in that extra thing…which I managed indulge in a few times that month, not just once! It really adds up. Mint can help warn you and if you choose to stick to your limits, you will have pre-decided what to do, which makes things so much easier! No marginal evaluation is necessary!
For business individuals, use Mint to flag charges on your credit card that are reimbursable so that you can easily track what you expect to be paid for without manually adding up your receipts. Or for those who have special occasions spending like vacation, travels, holidays, you can tag your expenses in real time in the Edit Details expansion in the line item. This will help you stay on budget with your specifically tagged spending.
4. Calculate your financial net worth
Financial net worth is another term for financial wealth. Financial net worth tells you how much money you actually have at your disposal (assuming 100% liquidity). You can add all your investment accounts, your loans/mortgage, your savings accounts, and any other assets/debts you may have. Once all your financial data is aggregated (see step 1), your net worth will be calculated. By smartly using step 2 and step 3, you can watch your net worth grow! Seeing any such progress ought to lift your spirits, no matter how small. Start reaching your budget goals and start growing your wealth. Watch it happen with Mint.
Why do all of this financial stuff? For a few reasons:
1. To get your all finances in one place so you can have a watchful eye on your money.
2. Start to track how much you actually spend on necessities versus lifestyle and entertainment.
3. Begin to set goals and actually stick to them by tracking and flexing your self denial / frugality muscles. You’ll be a healthier person for it.
4. Watch your wealth grow. Not to be prideful. But simply to know that every choice you make has a consequence.
Please note that financial wealth should not correlate with feelings of self worth or worthiness in the eyes of others. In fact, you are loved and worth more than anything in this world right now in the eyes of God. That is your true worth. Not your finances. Know and experience God’s love, and learn to love Him back. In Him you will find purpose and peace. He created you and your gifts. You are what you are because you were formed by His hand, but without Him, you will never reach the potential God sees for you as His child. I don’t say this cavalierly. Without God, how and why should you have eternal life? Without Him, you can not truly learn how to love with a fully broken and humble heart. Thus, you are incomplete in the depth of love, tending toward selfishness, and are disconnected from fullness of life through God’s spirit. But true love awaits. Jesus is calling you and you are never beyond redemption to God.