A few years ago I was on a mission to find an easy way to budget, and I found Mint. Since then, I’ve been using Mint to set budgets and track my spending. If you’re interested in an simple way to budget, you’re in luck – in this post I’m explaining how to budget using Mint.
What is Mint?
According to Mint, they are a:
“Free, web-based personal financial management service.”
Basically, this means they’re a user-friendly budgeting website/app.
Here’s how to budget using Mint:
- Make a free account:
It wouldn’t be smart budgeting if your budgeting software wasn’t free, am I right? Click here to create your account with Mint.
Once you’ve created your account, you’re ready to start adding your financial information.
2. Connect your bank accounts & credit cards
For Mint to provide a complete look at your spending, you’ll need to connect any and all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and bills to your Mint account. I promise this is completely secure and will not harm you in any way! Mint even has an alert that tells you if any of your account information is externally compromised from your email address or bank logins. In fact, Mint was the firm to inform me when my Netflix account was stolen! (I’m still recovering from that emotional trauma).
Mint will lead you to connect all of your information during the sign-up process. You’ll need to have your login information on-hand for each of these services in order get everything connected.
3. Add your income
You’ll want to add your income information to Mint to keep track of how much you’re actually making each month (especially if you’re not salaried). This also helps you monitor if your paychecks are correct and on-time!
To add your income, select “Income” from the Create a Budget dropdown, and enter your monthly salary.
4. Calculate how much you want to save.
Before you decide how much you can spend, you need to know what you’re aiming to save. A good rule of thumb is to aim to save at least 20% of your income each month. My dad always taught me to save 30%, so that’s how much I leave out of my budget every month to put into savings. Make sure you’re not including this amount in your budget, so you can put it into your savings instead!
5. Create your budget
Once you know how much money you want to set aside to save, you can start creating your budget. Simply click the “Create Budget” button under the Budget tab on the home page.
Think about where you spend your money: Nights out? Ordering dinner in? Ubering? Create realistic goals for how much you think you should spend on these purchases each month.
Mint allows you to create budgets for as many categories as you want, for items as broad or specific as you need. For example, I have a broader category for “Utilities” where I include all of my spending on water, electric, and renter’s insurance. I also have a specific category for “Starbucks,” created solely to keep my Starbucks addiction in-check.
You can use the Mint-provided categories to create your budgets, or create categories/sub-categories of your own.
6. Maintain your categories
As you make purchases throughout the month, you can edit which categories they fall into. Many transactions will automatically sort into the correct categories due to Mint’s smart algorithms. (For example, Mint will automatically know to put an “Exon” transaction into “Gas & Fuel.”) Transactions that don’t get automatically categorized will go into an “Everything Else”category that Mint automatically creates for you.
You should periodically go through this “Everything Else” bucket and re-categorize items that need to be moved, so that your transactions are more accurately accounted for.
7. Know that your budget isn’t static
Your budget can change over time! You can move your categories or budget amounts around each month until you find a rhythm that works for you. Maybe you find that you just can’t give up getting lunch from the nearby deli twice a week, but you can take fewer Ubers. Look at where your spending is trending over time and make adjustments as you go!
I hope this guide helped you learn how to budget using Mint. For a look at a real-life month of budgeting, check out my June Budgeting report here.
Don’t forget to download the Mint app as well to keep track of your finances on-the-go!
Good luck and happy budgeting!