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Mint.com has been around for over a decade, and has over 15 million users!
I’ve been a user on and off for almost 10 years, and wanted to put together a simple guide to get your budget up and running with Mint.
Related -> See my complete review of Mint and all of it’s features
Step 1: Create A Mint Account
First things first, you need to sign up for a Mint.com account. Use your email address, create a password, and you’re connected!
Once you are signed in, Mint will walk you through a basic user profile setup.
Fill in the details to get the most accurate recommendations from Mint, and it will even show how your spending compares to others in your same demographic. And if you’re competitive like me, that’s some quick motivation to get your spending below the national average!
Step 2: Add Your Financial Accounts
Once you fill out the profile, it’s time to start adding accounts. Mint partners with thousands of banks, bills and other financial accounts, so if your account has an online login option, Mint mostly likely has it.
To connect your accounts, select the “+ ADD ACCOUNT” option in the top menu, and then you simply find your financial institutions in their search bar.
Mint will then walk you through signing in to your online account. Different institutions connect in different ways, so just follow the on-screen prompts to connect.
Once the accounts are connected, Mint will pull in the transaction history and account balance, and will even pull that data into your “Budget” section as well.
And possibly my favorite feature of Mint, it totals all your assets minus your debts, and will show you your Net Worth!
This is why I recommend connecting EVERY money account you have for the clearest picture of where you stand financially. Connect your banks accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, loans, mortgage, house, cars, etc. to make sure you are 100% IN THE KNOW about your money.
Step 3: Start With Income
Navigate over to the “Budgets” tab. This is where you will start building your Mint.com budget.
Related -> If you haven’t already, read through my Ultimate Guide on How To Budget. It walks through the EXACT process I use when coach people to get on a budget.
Click on “+ Create A Budget” to add your income first.
Mint will show you your AVERAGE income for the past few months, which is especially helpful if you have a variable income.
Input the total amount you will be earning this month, as Mint only allows you to budget for money earned in the current month.
Step 4: Add Your Bills
Now it’s time to add in your expenses. I recommend starting with your Bills first, as those are usually the same month-to-month.
Click on “+ Create A Budget” and start by adding in your housing, utilities, and transportation. Then add in any subscriptions or monthly bills (internet, cell phone) next. Don’t forget to add in any debt payments, such as car payment, student loans, and credit cards.
Make sure to select “Every Month” for your monthly bills, or “Every Few Months” for infrequent bills. When selecting “Every Few Months“, you can tell Mint exactly how often, and how much. Mint will then set aside those dollars in the budget so you have the money available when the bill arrives.
Now your budget might look something like this:
Note: You can add/edit your categories. Simply select “Add/Edit Categories” when looking in the drop-down of categories, and add whatever you want. For example, I added the category “Netflix” to the Entertainment budget section.
Once all your bills are added, it’s time to input your Daily Spending categories.
Step 5: Add Daily Spending
Now that you’re bills are added, it’s time to add in your daily spending categories. These are the day-to-day expenses of living. This includes things like:
- Spending Cash
Again, when you start adding these, it will show you your average spending in previous months. Ever better; Mint will show how your compare with the US Average in that category as well. SCARY!
Your budget should now start looking like this:
Step 6: Add Savings Buckets and Goals
You will notice a running total of your budget on the right side of the screen.
This show you what you still have available to budget. After funding your bills and daily expenses, I recommend using the rest to fund your Savings Buckets and your Goals.
Savings Buckets are a way to save up for infrequent expenses, such as Christmas, Birthdays, Vacations and Maintenance. You save a small amount each month, so when the expense arrives, you have the money available.
Goals are similar, but are LARGER purchases and achievements, suchs as debt payoff, buying a replacement car, or saving a down payment.
They function the same in Mint, so we’ll walk through adding an example Goal below.
Let’s use Christmas as an example. It happens the last month of the year, and if you start in February, you have 11 months to save for it.
Go to the “GOALS” tab at the top, and select “Custom Goal“
Then input your Goal details.
Step 1: For Christmas, enter the total amount you want to save ($1,200, for example).
Step 2: Then select WHERE you want to save to save that money. Mint will NOT track your goal unless it’s attached to an account. I personally have a different savings account for EVERY Goal and Savings Bucket, all using CapitalOne 360 savings.
Step 3: Once you have an account selected where you will be saving the money, then select your “planned date”, which is when you NEED the money. For Christmas, it’s December of this year.
As you can see, Mint will automatically calculate HOW MUCH you need to save per month to reach your goal on time. Once you save this Goal, Mint will then add it to your budget.
Continue adding in Savings Buckets and Goals until you have assigned all “Left over” money in the budget.
How To Use The Budget Day To Day
Once the budget is all set up, now it’s time to use it to track your spending and stay on track.
I like to break your budget down into 5 categories:
- Daily Spending
- Savings Buckets
With Mint, here’s how you can use the budget to stay on top of each of these.
Mint will track your transactions in all account, and if you set up your alerts as I recommend in this post, you will be alerted when your paycheck hits your account.
You can also take a look at your account balances under the “Accounts” section to make sure you have the funds needed until the next paycheck (similar to the Paycheck Budgeting Method).
You should have all of your bills listed in the budget, and as they come through, Mint will show those transactions. If one bill is higher than budgeted, make sure to edit that category and increase that budget to match.
If there’s not enough money to cover the overage, make sure to LOWER another category to compensate. You cannot spend money you don’t have!
These are the categories that you will be tracking the most. Things like Groceries, Restaurants, Entertainment, Spending Cash, Gas, Clothing, Shopping, etc. Here’s how I recommend using Mint on the daily in these categories.
Before you go shopping at the grocery store (or online!), open up the Mint app and see how much you have available.
For example, if it’s the 10th of the month, and you only have $300 left of the $800 grocery budget, you should probably see how you can meal plan from food you already have in the pantry.
Or if you REALLY want that new sweater, but your “Target” budget category is at $0…..you’ll need to (GASP!) wait until next month.
But that’s the magic of Mint, it tracks ALL your spending for you, and shows you REALITY, which helps you make better money decisions, and stick to your budget. This helps you ACTUALLY reach your goals of getting out of debt, saving more money, or investing in your future.
Savings Buckets & Goals
Mint will keep you on track using the GOALS feature (see details above). As you spend money throughout the month, make sure you DON’T compromise on hitting the goals you have set.
If happen upon a few extra dollars (extra paycheck, tax return, side hustle), make sure you don’t let those dollars sit idle in your accounts! Assign them to a goal until your “Left over” amount in the budget is $0.
Other Budgeting Notes
- Use the Mint App on your phone to stay the most connected to your budget. If you’re just getting started, keep an eye on your spending for the first 30 days to make sure Mint is categorizing things correctly. You may have to do a decent amount of editing for a month or so to get things right.
- Mint will allow you to SPLIT transactions. Meaning you can assign more than one category to a single transaction. If you go to Walmart and buy Groceries and Clothing, you can split that into those two categories.
- Select the transaction and click “Edit Details”. Then split up the transaction. A quick shortcut; Clicking the “I’m Done” button will help you with the math if you don’t split the numbers correctly.
- Transactions don’t post immediately. So your budget is not going to be 100% on point until all transactions are posted.
- Mint can (and will) lose connection to your accounts. Some are worse than others (CapitalOne, I’m looking at you), but make sure to reconnect if this happens, or NOTHING is going to be up to date.
Get Started Today
See, not so bad right? If you follow the steps outlined above, you will have a budget with Mint in NO TIME!
So what are you waiting for?