Author Topic: Is my general bank set-up making it hard to look at objectively? [Mint.com]  (Read 6779 times)

bo_knows

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My wife and I are of the general mustachian mindset, and have been working over the past year or two to lower expenses in the high-cost-of-living area that we live in.  I've been really scrutinizing my Mint.com account the last few months, and something just doesn't add up to me.

On mint.com, my "Net income" (income - expenses) for the last few months has been 2-4k per month. Great right? Well, I feel like I don't see this major increase. Where is it?  I was wondering how people set up their general banking, and wanted to compare it to mine.

  • Credit Union Checking - This is our main bill-paying account. All paychecks are direct deposited here.
  • Credit Union Checking #2 - This account was created strictly as a transfer account for our mortgage. Equal weekly amount go into this account from our main checking account, and our mortgage is paid straight from here
  • American Express Blue Cash - Rewards credit card, 1 account with 2 shared cards for my wife and I. With the generous rewards, we use this for as many expenses as possible.
  • ING Savings - Emergency Fund
  • Vanguard Account - IRA's and a taxable mutual fund account(which we count as part of our emergency fund)

Typical cashflow for us is:
Income is deposited in Checking #1 weekly.
Weekly transfer from Checking #1 to Checking #2.
Monthly Transfer from Checking #1 to IRA.
Monthly Payment from Checking #2 for mortgage.
Monthly Payment from Checking #1 for Amex (most of our expenses)

Basically, the accounts steadily go up, and have 2 large end-of-month payments (mortgage and Amex).  I'm just wondering that if Mint.com is calculating an excess of that much, how am I missing it?

Tyler

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Secret checking account that wife is siphoning money into?  ;)

Just a few ideas:

- If you have a 401k in Mint, you'll be receiving income that you won't "see".
- If you expense some purchases for work, the delay in reimbursements sometimes plays tricks with monthly net income calculations. 
- You may also check to see if you have certain expenses (like vacation tags) excluded from your net income calculations.
- Make sure that the transfers between accounts are properly labeled as transfers on both ends (departing and receiving) and not income.


bo_knows

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Secret checking account that wife is siphoning money into?  ;)

lol. Not that I know of ;)

Quote
- If you have a 401k in Mint, you'll be receiving income that you won't "see".

What exactly do you mean by this? I do have my 401k in there.  Are you saying that deposits to the 401k are counted as "income"? Because you're right... I don't see them.  They are not included in my income transactions when I click the "net income" section.

Quote
- If you expense some purchases for work, the delay in reimbursements sometimes plays tricks with monthly net income calculations. 
- You may also check to see if you have certain expenses (like vacation tags) excluded from your net income calculations.

Neither of those apply. I haven't created any exclusions.

Quote
- Make sure that the transfers between accounts are properly labeled as transfers on both ends (departing and receiving) and not income.

I'll have to double check this.

Taylor

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I had a similar problem with Mint, although I still use it. I had closed a second checking account and transfered that money into a savings account, and Mint counted the money twice. Really bad day for me when I realized I actually had $2,000 LESS than I thought I had. I had to go into Mint and manually delete that account.

Also, since I get paid at the very end or very beginning of each month, sometimes 2 months of salary gets grouped into one month.

All this to say, I feel your Mint pain......

Tyler

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Quote
- If you have a 401k in Mint, you'll be receiving income that you won't "see".

What exactly do you mean by this? I do have my 401k in there.  Are you saying that deposits to the 401k are counted as "income"? Because you're right... I don't see them.  They are not included in my income transactions when I click the "net income" section.



I may have fiddled with the categories, but I set up my Mint to count 401k contributions and employer match as income.  I guess that could give you a false sense of accessible cash flow if you're non-deferred savings rate is low, but I like to have a feel for full savings per month and not simply taxable savings.  My point is that if you do this you will have net income that you won't see in your normal bank account when you're looking to buy something.

It sounds like you may just need to check all of the categories for the transactions.  Mint isn't perfect, and I often have to correct mis-labeled or uncategorized transactions.

Apocalyptica602

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Haha I have the opposite problem in Mint.

I haven't had a "green" month in a long time. Even though my finances are doing very well. I'm staying within budget, maxing out my 401k, and my Net Worth is positive.

It considers my student loan payments as "spending", while it's not counting my 401k as "savings / income" in the month to month sense.

Like I see my Net Worth crossed from negative to positive over the past months, and it's growing in the "Trends" tab... but pretty much month after month it says my income is only 3k (I gross about 5.5k a month but 1400/mo is 401k and ~50 is health/dental/vision). And typically I "spend" more than that. (Because any extra cent I don't need goes into my student loans.)

It's just weird for me to visualize like that, even though I know I'm doing the right thing.

grantmeaname

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You could recategorize all your loan payments manually as savings, and then it would reflect your actions correctly.

velocistar237

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Every month, I go through at the end of the month and mark all the transfers as Transfer. For some reason, my employer retirement benefit shows up as negative. To make sure everything is right, I go to the pie charts under Trends for both Income and Expenses and click each category to double-check everything. It's still easier than a spreadsheet.

arebelspy

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Every month, I go through at the end of the month and mark all the transfers as Transfer. For some reason, my employer retirement benefit shows up as negative. To make sure everything is right, I go to the pie charts under Trends for both Income and Expenses and click each category to double-check everything. It's still easier than a spreadsheet.

I check as well, sometimes it categorizes transfers as spending or income.  It's rare, and usually when I only do a certain thing, so I just watch out for it.

Mint should help you make your numbers match, not confuse you more.  Check that it's tagging everything correctly and not double counting things.
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smalllife

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I found that Mint didn't give an accurate picture of my finances either, especially PayPal transactions and executing planned for but over-the-monthly-budget expenses like lump sum insurance payments.  When I switched banks I also had the double counted income effect.  I left Mint behind a couple of months ago and couldn't be happier :-)   In the end Mint had some issues connecting to my accounts, but I didn't realize how ineffective it was as a budgeting and net worth tool until I moved on.  (Insert plug for YNAB here)

Back to the OP.  Part of the issue might be that you and Mint have different approaches to your money, and therefore categorize things differently.  Another part of the issue is that Mint tends to have a mind of its own what to count as income and expenses, especially when transferring between accounts.  I would check to see how your transfers are affecting your net worth balance.