Recently a new personal finance site, mint.com, has been making its way into phones all over the world. This free personal management site is one of the most popular choices for budgeting and recordkeeping – probably due to its neat user interface and its longstanding reputation. It is available to be downloaded on Android phones via Google Play, through the Apple App Store, on Amazon and on Windows phones. Here are ways you can optimize your user experience and get the best out of this free service:
1. Sync all your financial data
Mint works best when it can see the entire financial picture. This means that you should not stop at cash and credit card expenditure and savings accounts. Key in everything! This includes any loans, such as student loans and car loans, and mortgages. Also, make sure your net worth is accurate; take a moment to carefully calculate all your assets such as cars and properties. With all that data, Mint can more accurately determine your suggested budget, goal and net worth.
2. Keep track of all transactions
It is important to be aware of the flow of your money. After your budgets have been configured, Mint will automatically categorize any transactions made. For example, groceries, fuel, utilities, entertainment, etc. However, do note that not all transactions are categorized correctly – which then affects your “Trends” and makes your budgeting less useful. A way to avoid this is to regularly review your transactions and make sure they are organized appropriately.
3. Set goals
This is believed to be Mint’s best and most useful tool. It is unfortunately not yet available on the app but it can be accessed from the desktop website. “Goals” is a well-designed tool that provides advice on the best ways to manage your financials based on the goal(s) you aim to accomplish. Key in all your unsettled debt and enter a goal to be achieved along with how much money you’d allocate to settle that debt. Mint can then calculate the suggested distribution of money, taking into consideration the interest rates involved.
It is safe to say that you cannot go wrong with your money if you choose to use this well-developed application. In fact, it should be promoted to all college and university students to prevent the future generation from facing financial crises. Finally, here are some tips for tracking cash that you may find useful:
Option 1: Set a budget for “Cash and ATM” and forego tracking cash transactions completely. You then use only cash for stuff like eating at restaurants and doing groceries, then allow your “Cash and ATM” budget to reflect that.
Option 2: This is a more labor-intensive approach – but also more accurate. Each time you spend any cash, log on to Mint and tap the “+” button at the top. Key in exactly how much you have spent and what that money was spent on. Remember to delete or remove any withdrawal transactions though, so that it won’t appear that you are spending twice as much as you really are.