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How We’re Using (Part II)

April 5, 2011

Ok, you’ve got the scoop on how we figured out what categories to use, now for how we use them…

First off, I’m not using Mint to keep track of how much money we have. I’m using Mint to keep track of what we spend and to determine how well we’re staying within our budget. Mint is tracking our budget, not our money! So, it is a big deal to realize that we’ve set our budget to be less than what my monthly paycheck it. Even though $2500 is going into my bank every 2 weeks (I made that up) for a total of $5000 useable dollars each month, I only budget $4000 because that is all we spend (made up). Right up front, we are sending $1000 to our savings account (I’m making this up, too). I’m using Mint to keep track of how well we use $4000, not $5000.

I take that $4000 and divide it into my various categories. I set those categories on Mint’s website. Taking all of the categories together, I should end up using $4000 a month.

I link Mint to my checking accounts and to my credit card (it is secure, they say). Then, whenever we purchase anything using the card or a check, our financial institution notifies Mint, and Mint puts it into a category. As the month goes on, Mint keeps track of where our money is going, and illustrates it as a bar-graph so that I can see how far into each category we’ve spent in relation to how far into the month we are. Nice. Winning.

I had to make up a few categories that Mint didn’t provide. Like “Utilities — AT&T”, or “Gymnastics” (I can’t recall if Mint already had that one)…

I check Mint each day or so (maybe every 3-4 days at the least) and make sure that each transaction fits into a category that I want. Mint doesn’t always know which category should be used with each transaction. If Mint has mis-categorized a transaction, I fix it (it takes about 2 seconds).

After making sure each transaction is correct, I double check the main page, which shows me how far into the month we are and compare it to how far into each budget category we are. That helps me know if we need to be more careful as the month goes on, of if we can breathe a sigh of relief…

I’ll constantly be updating the blog about how we use Mint…

Now…if you have any questions or thoughts about Mint, please share them in the comments section. I think I’ll be adding little details about our use of Mint as time goes on.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Annette permalink
    April 5, 2011 2:07 pm

    I found Mint because it is such a great designed website/mobile app. I actually learned about it at usability design conferences. It’s very user friendly and easy to use. I just wish our budget would look so pretty.

  2. J. Oyler permalink
    April 5, 2011 7:20 pm

    Thanks for the Pearls of Wisdom. I too have been looking for a little more sound $$$ advice…so make sure it’s good! We also are faithful budgeters and it makes life so much easier to know your finances are where they are supposed to be. We have a few additional categories in our budget such as Christmas, Family Birthdays, Extended Family Birthdays, Home Improvement, etc. We don’t plan on spedning this amount each month, but what we don’t spend rolls over to the next month (the amound we set aside is the amount we anticipate spending over a year, but because some months are heavier than others, it equalized the expenses month after month). This helps us save for expenses we know are coming. That way, when they do hit, it doesn’t hurt so bad. Anyway, just an additional thought.

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