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Using Mint.com to Track Peculiar Spending…

July 10, 2011

I wrote this post while on vacation. Nice, eh?

“Peculiar” spending describes transactions that aren’t normal monthly budget items. Going on vacation is peculiar since we don’t do it every month, and I’m not sure what it normally costs.

This vacation is different in that we really put aside money for the trip, and we’re really tracking every cent we spend while on vacation. First, I want to be sure we’re not going over the budget we set for the vacation. Second, I want to start keeping track of what we spend for this annual trip each year so that I can accurately set money aside for the trip.

Mint is great. It is making this process easy.

Whenever a transaction shows up on Mint, I check to see if it is money we spent on (or for) the vacation. If it is, I “tag” it as “CA Vacation 2011”. You can make any tags you want. “Christmas 2011”, or “Landscaping 2012”, or “Birthdays 2012” or whatever. Go the transaction, then go to the place where you edit the details and tick whatever tag you want. There are a few built in, but I’ll create my own, I’m sure. I already clicked “CA Vacation 2011” for the transaction where we ate dinner at Pizza Hut.

Now look at the bottom left corner of the “transactions” screen on Mint. It should show you all of your tags. Click on the one that you’d like to see a summary of. I want to see what we’ve spent on our vacation so far:

As of this writing, we’ve spent about $60. That is sure to go up, as gas is still expensive, we end up eating out a bit, etc., etc…

See? It shows all of the transactions that I’ve tagged as “CA Vacation 2011”. Now, once this trip is over, I’ll be able to see exactly what we spent on the trip. Next year, I’ll be able to budget a little more carefully. Plus, if we go under our budget for vacation during this trip, I can either send the unused money to savings, or go on another small vacation. We win either way. If we go over budget…let’s not even consider that…

If you are anything like my wife, you do your Christmas shopping throughout the year. If so, tag each Christmas transaction. Then you’ll be able to see what you spent, total, for 2011’s Christmas shopping. That will make it a bit easier to budget for 2012.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiffany Christensen permalink
    July 14, 2011 5:21 pm

    That post stresses me out. Isn’t vacation a time to lose all sense of budget and freak out?

    • July 14, 2011 8:21 pm

      Sure, if you want it to be your last vacation. Ha!

      One reason this vacation has been so stress-free is that we set aside much more than we thought we’d need. Planned and set it aside months ago. So, I don’t feel any stress when the kids ask to do something. I’m tracking it so I can set aside an appropriate amount each year. Less stress for me.

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