Like when I was out to dinner with another money savvy friend recently and I mentioned that I’ve been hearing a lot about Mint.com and kept meaning to check it out.
I think she nearly spit out her food. I didn’t use Mint? How could I not be using Mint? I am a PF blogger/nut, right? What was I using to budget?
Then I confessed (pretty sheepishly, after that reaction) that I’ve actually been keeping track of our household budget using an Excel spreadsheet I have to update every day with our latest purchases.
I felt like I told her I kept track of it with an abacus.
So, this weekend I took some time to set up a Mint account and see what all the fuss was about.
And I have to admit, I can understand why my friend was so amazed I haven’t been using it all this time.
Why Mint is my new favorite thing
I feel now like I have been using an abacus…or rocks and sticks…for my old budgeting method, because Mint make is so easy for you. (And it’s completely free!) I don’t know why it took me so long to check it out.
All you do is link Mint up to your current checking account (and any other accounts or cards you use for your day to day purchases) and it keeps track of everything you’ve spent so far this month. You can create budget categories for your regular expenses, and it will show you on a super easy colored bar how much of your budget you’ve used up so far.
It puts your expenses into categories based on the name of the expense. So my recent purchase at Amazon.com was categorized as “Shopping,” and it knew my prescription refill at CVS went under the “Medical – Pharmacy” sub-category.
But, if you’re a budget perfectionist like me and want to customize everything to your household, you can easily switch the categories to whatever you want. Under Mint’s standard “Medical” sub-categories, for instance, I added “Massages” because for me, they’re a way to keep myself mentally and physically well. You can create any number of categories or sub-categories you want to make your budget personalized.
But the coolest thing, in my opinion, is that you can also tell Mint to always put certain expenses under the same category. So when I put my massage place’s name under “Medical – Massage,” I was also able to check a box that told Mint to always put it under that category in the future. This won’t work for some expenses, like Target where sometimes we purchase groceries and household supplies and sometimes I run in to buy someone a birthday present…those ones I’m going to manually categorize for now to make sure everything is where it should be. But, for about 99.9% of our expenses, Mint will now be taking care of everything…tracking, categorizing, and telling me in one quick glance if we’re where we should be spending-wise.
You can also do a ton of other things I haven’t had a chance to really explore yet, like set up alerts for when bills are due, when you are getting too close to overspending, etc. But so far (in case you couldn’t tell), I am sold.
Actually, being the PF dork I am, I’m kind of excited to pop into Mint every day and see how it’s doing my work for me. Yes, I know, I am lame.
Do you use Mint? What’s your favorite feature?