December 18, 2019 / in Business Recommendations, How To / by Jason Terry
I’m sure you’re looking forward to some time off to celebrate the holidays. If you’re like me, you will have some unusual blocks of downtime over the next couple of weeks. It might be a good time to get a handle on your budget. And Mint.com is an excellent tool to supercharge that process.
This all started with my desire to know monthly expenses going into 2020. I’ve never done a hardcore budget before… and I definitely don’t keep a close eye on every single purchase at the end of the month. I know that paying attention to where the money is going can really help you find ways to save… especially when you uncover monthly charges that you didn’t even know were happening.
At first, I started creating manual spreadsheets for expense tracking. That lasted 15 minutes. I knew it was going to be incredibly tedious to finish going through all my accounts to get a clear picture of our monthly spending… let alone our net worth.
And then I remembered that I’d tried to use Mint.com a few years ago. At the time, it didn’t work with all my accounts, so I never finished setting it up. I decided to give Mint.com another chance and I’m so glad that I did.
I set up a new Mint.com account and started the process of plugging in our various accounts. These were credit card accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, a mortgage account, and investment accounts. And every single account worked perfectly! I was even able to connect the retirement account my wife has at work.
Once I got all our accounts connected, Mint.com started downloading historical data. The data only went back to August 2019 (3 months of historical data because I did this in November.) I was hoping for a full year… but I’m glad I started because as each month goes by I’m building up that historical data. That said, I did have enough data to get a clear picture of where we’re spending our money.
Intuit.com bought Mint.com and they’ve obviously done a LOT of work on the application since I last tried it out. Check out the features here. It’s free and easy to use. And their mobile apps for iPhone and Android work really well. (It’s rare that I see an app with hundreds of thousands of reviews and an average star rating above 4.5.)
You can see every transaction, and the categories Mint.com assigns are fairly accurate. It’s easy to change them if they’re wrong… for example, my annual charge from Umzuzu for Google Apps was classified as a charitable donation. I’m sure my friends Tony and Joe at Umzuzu are NOT a 501(c)(3).
You can drill down on a category and see how much you are spending at coffee shops over time. Or bars, fast food and grocery shopping. You get the idea. And if Mint sees a charge or deposit out of the ordinary, they will email you to make sure you know about it.
It’s nice that you can also get a free credit score within the Mint.com application. Again, it gives you a great, high-level view of your financials.
So if you have some downtime over the holiday break, consider setting up a Mint.com account. It will give you great visibility into your net worth and where you’re spending your money! (Please let me know if you use Mint.com or other tool for tracking your spending and budgets.)