If I told you that you could change your entire financial future in 15 minutes, would your ears perk up? Would you listen to what I have to say for just a little while, understanding that knowledge is power, and that getting the right information in your head can change your future? Well, I would keep reading here, because I just found out an amazing way to make that happen. It’s called “GET ON A BUDGET NOW!” And luckily, I’ve written a nice little tutorial for you to make that happen. Check it out!
Mint.com is back!
I gotta say, I’m pretty excited about this. Mostly because I am so crazy busy that I’ll be honest, I haven’t been fully keeping up with our every transaction, and have had to catch up on weekends to asses our spending, balance the budget, etc. And though I enjoy these things, my wife really doesn’t (and I don’t blame her, I’m just weird). Plus it takes time away, and has been difficult to present to my wife during our monthly budget meetings. Again, I don’t blame her, and just because I look at spreadsheets all day with a gleam in my eye and sunshine and rainbows and happiness, doesn’t mean she will find the same joy that I do. In fact, I would venture to guess that more than 5 minutes of staring at my budget would glaze most people’s eyes over and have then dreaming of all the happy times…like when they WEREN’T staring at my spreadsheet!
Budgeting On Mint.com Has Improved!
Believe it or not, Mint.com used to have a crappy budgeting tool. There, I said it. And though it was junk-tastic, I still gave it a shot. I tried to put together a basic budget based on my spreadsheet, and then let mint do the tracking. WAH-WAH-WAHHHHHH! Big time bummer. Basically, it couldn’t figure out how to categorize stuff, even after much manual correction, it kept alerting me that I went over budget, and I could not manually adjust anything. Also, I had no way to tracking my savings buckets, because categories did not roll over. So I stuck to my spreadsheets for the past few years, and just let Mint.com track my net worth.
But after a few failed budget meetings, and some frustration on how our money is allocated, and the fact that there was a lack of colorful graphs, I was feeling a little bummed about MY ULTIMATE BUDGET! As with most all my revelations these days, I was commuting to work, and my buddy mentioned that Mint.com allows you to split transactions into multiple categories. “WHAT????!!!!!” I almost made his stop the car! This was the most groundbreaking thing I had learned about budgeting since the Excel SUMIF formula revelation of 2011!!! If I could split transactions now, then my categories wouldn’t be off, I would stop getting “you’re over budget alerts unless they were real, and I could hug a rainbow! And I wonder what else had improved….so I hopped on my account and started my journey into AWESOMENESS!
Setting Up A Budget On Mint.com
I had set up a budget a few years back, and I guess I hadn’t deleted it. I looked my piddly budget in the face, laughed at it, and demolished it in seconds with just a few left clicks of the mouse. BOOM! Then I started the process of re-building the budget with my wife, so we could make sure everything was set properly and easy to understand. Here’s how we did it:
1. Go to the “Budgets” tab and select “Create a Budget” to add a category.
2. Select a category from the “Choose a Category” drop-down menu. It should have your historical spending data on the right hand side.
From here, you can select your options. Select whether it’s a monthly expenses, or at another recurring rate. Select the amount to budget, and you can even select whether to roll over the balance for the category each month. This will allow me to keep track of my savings buckets in one account. WOOHOO!!
3. Once you save a category, it will pop own below with a bar graph showing your current progress based on your transactions for far for the month. Here’s an example:
Once you have all of your categories set up, then Voila! You have a budget set up in Mint.com! Seriously that easy!
Categorizing Your Transactions
Once you have a budget set up, you may notice that things are off. It may look like you’re overspending in certain categories, or maybe you have a HUGE amount in your “Everything Else” category at the bottom. In either case, you probably need to go through and re-categorize your transactions to accurately reflect your spending. Luckily, this is pretty freaking easy to do.
I like to start by going to the “Everything Else” category, because if something ends of in there, it means I either spent outside my budget, or the category is wrong. Here an example from my budget this month:
Now, I have spent $30 on fast food, but we keep that under the food budget. So I click on the “Food and Dining: Fast Food” link, and it takes me to my transactions. Since I know all the fast food items will fall under “Groceries”, I check the box next to each item, and hit “Edit Multiple“. Now I can select “Groceries” for the category, and BOOM!, everything is now under the appropriate category.
You can do this for each category, until everything has a proper home. This has made our lives MUCH easier, and can help us quickly find the outliers, and even the areas where we (GASP!) blow the budget. And this is how budgeting should work. You look over your spending, and adjust each month before it begins to ensure you set realistic goals and are spending wisely.
How To Split A Transaction Into Multiple Categories
Don’t you hate it when you make a few purchases at a single store, and you only enter the total in your budget under a single category, only to find your numbers are way off because your shopping trip included multiple budget categories that you didn’t properly allocate for? I know, frustrating, right?
Well, that would happen ALL. THE. TIME. with the old Mint.com budget I had set up. But they’ve remedied all that with the options to split your transactions into multiple categories.
Take, for example, our recent Burger King trip. Sure, it may look like food on the outside, but what if we bought an extra whopper to give away to one of our neighbors who loves whoppers, but can’t drive? Well, then I would say the transaction falls into the “Groceries” and “Charity” budgets. So let’s split it up.
1. Hover your mouse over the transaction, and click on “Edit Details“
3. Enter the amount you want in the first category (in this case, “Groceries”) and then hit the “Split” button. This will drop down another line to put in another amount in a separate category. In this case, we’ve got the main $6.00 of food under “Groceries“, and the extra whopper under “Charity“. Select “I’m Done” to save the changes.
Get On A Budget
If you’re reading this site, you probably see a value in budgeting your finances, or you are having a tough time sleeping and really need some BORING material to put you out. In either case, you should be on a sweet budget so you can start WINNING, and Mint.com is the ideal choice. Not only does it track everything for you, saving you hours and hours a month, but it has fancy graphs and pie charts that your significant other will appreciate when going over your monthly spending and upcoming budget. So GET ON IT! Mint.com is free, super simple, and can be set up in 15 minutes.
Get started now on Mint.com
Comments: Do you use Mint.com? Have you tried their budgeting feature? Why or why not? Do you like color coding and graphs? I strongly recommend checking this out, and if anything, it’ll kill some down time, and possibly change your financial future forever. Your choice 😉
Disclosure: There are no affiliate links in this post. I just really like the new budgeting features on Mint.com. I hope you do to.