By Jess Stratton | Monday, April 08, 2013
This week in Monday Productivity Pointers, I explain how to track your finances with Mint.com.
Mint.com is a secure, read-only site that inputs all your line-item transactions from your financial institutions (like auto loans, school loans, checking and savings accounts, investments, and mortgages) and outputs them in an easy-to-read format so you can see how your money is really doing.
In the first video I’ll show you some strategies I used when I migrated my accounts to Mint.com. It involves setting up online accounts for the financial institutions you want to view on Mint.com, and setting up rules for your recurring transactions so you don’t need to re-categorize them each time they occur.
This way, you can spend an hour on a rainy day going over a month’s worth of balances and transactions, make sure they are all organized in the right categories, and then sit back and watch as they are automatically updated.
Once your spending categories are set up properly, when you look at the handy charts and graphs Mint.com shows you, it will be clear where you are spending your money.
Speaking of places you spend money, let’s talk about the second video: setting budgets and goals.
Mint.com not only shows you where you spend your money but also allows you to specify how much you want to spend on a particular category, such as coffee shops. They’ll keep track over the month of how much you’re spending there and and show you a visual tracker of how close you are to hitting your budget limit.
You can also create goals—for example, to pay off a credit card. You can take any excess money that you didn’t use in your budgets and apply it toward that goal.
One final note: The only way a budget will work is if you log in often and see how you’re doing!
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