Whether you are trying to prepare for your future or correct the mistakes of the past, money is always a factor. No matter how good we think we are at keeping track of our money, it often seems like it’s gone as soon as you get it. Goals that we set get pushed farther and farther back until they’re just distant dreams. Regardless of your income level, you need a clear and detailed management and tracking strategy to step your game up.
Mint.com offers an almost complete solution for your money management troubles. Not only will it help you keep track of transactions and balance your checkbook, but it will act as your assistant in planning for the future. If you’ve been banging your head against a hard object or avoiding the subject of money management entirely, Mint may be the solution you need.
Your first step will be to add your bank accounts. Mint has connections with most major financial institutions, so simply search for your bank and provide the relevant information. Mint downloads your transaction history and keeps it up-to-date when you login. Behind the scenes, Mint is also figuring out what you’re spending money on. In addition to your standard bank accounts, Mint also lets you add loans and investment accounts so that you can keep track of big-ticket items like your car or your home and also pay off those student loans.
Mint supports your PayPal and even some prepaid gift cards and credit cards. If you do a lot of cash transactions, Mint still has you covered. You can manually enter transactions as cash or check and even connect them to your most recent ATM withdrawal.
The Mint dashboard shows you lots of useful information. Your accounts and balances are listed down the left side along with your Assets, Debt, and Net Worth. You will also find Trends here that may clue you in to things you didn’t know you were doing. Click the Trends tab across the top of your dashboard and you can really dig into where you might be making mistakes. Did you really spend 50% of your income on eating out last month? Should you really be devoting 25% of your income to random shopping?
To make sure you’re getting a good picture of where you’re spending your money, hit the Transactions tab and take a look at how Mint has categorized your transactions. Many may show up as Uncategorized so you will want to go through and pick a valid category for these. The easiest way is to select one of these transactions, choose “Show all Uncategorized” from the right sidebar, and then go down the list and fill in the blanks.
Setting Goals and Budgeting
Once you have the basics together, your next step is to start setting Goals. This is actually a new feature that was recently added to Mint. While the existing Budgets feature is good for setting up simple goals, this new feature lets you go into detail without being a financial expert. If you want to calculate what type of savings plan you need to get on to afford a new car, your dream house, or that vacation you’ve been thinking about, Mint can help you work out the details. The Goals feature asks you a few simple questions and figures out the rest for you. Check out the details on Goals here.
Ways to Save
Another section to investigate is the Ways to Save tab. This area will help you find the best financial tools for you based on your current situation. Everything from Credit Cards and Savings Accounts to Brokerage Accounts and Auto Insurance. It’s fine to just balance your checkbook, but the goal is to step your financial game up. Mint can help you track the basics and also show you how to make your money work for you.Category: Featured, How-To | Tags: goals, mint, money management, saving money