Author Topic: Mint: Tips and Tricks  (Read 4058 times)

OmahaSteph

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Mint: Tips and Tricks
« on: December 08, 2015, 03:05:12 PM »
I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Mint. It's somewhat intuitive, but I'm still having trouble navigating. It might be helpful to start a thread to ask questions and provide tips and tricks. Apologies if this topic has been done before.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 03:16:53 PM »
Well, my big mistake was not knowing that the "everything else" category is NOT added into the monthly spending # they give you in review. So I thought my savings rate was GREAT, since I only made budgets for my recurrent costs. So... don't do that. Haha.

Have you added all your accounts?

OmahaSteph

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 03:26:50 PM »
Well, my big mistake was not knowing that the "everything else" category is NOT added into the monthly spending # they give you in review. So I thought my savings rate was GREAT, since I only made budgets for my recurrent costs. So... don't do that. Haha.

Have you added all your accounts?

Hmmm, yeah that "everything else" thing is a bit confusing. I need to look into that more but I think I've played around with it enough for one day. Eeep!

I've added most accounts. I have one small 401(k) from a former employer that I haven't added (don't have the info on me ATM) and I'm kinda wondering if maybe I shouldn't just roll it over into my 401(k) with current employer. I keep seeing stuff about Roths and Vanguards and it might be a profitable experiment to go that route instead. If I screw up something, it's not that much gone and it'll be a good lesson for later. (Wow, that sounds really bad ... )

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2015, 03:37:21 PM »
Well, my big mistake was not knowing that the "everything else" category is NOT added into the monthly spending # they give you in review. So I thought my savings rate was GREAT, since I only made budgets for my recurrent costs. So... don't do that. Haha.

Have you added all your accounts?

Hmmm, yeah that "everything else" thing is a bit confusing. I need to look into that more but I think I've played around with it enough for one day. Eeep!

I've added most accounts. I have one small 401(k) from a former employer that I haven't added (don't have the info on me ATM) and I'm kinda wondering if maybe I shouldn't just roll it over into my 401(k) with current employer. I keep seeing stuff about Roths and Vanguards and it might be a profitable experiment to go that route instead. If I screw up something, it's not that much gone and it'll be a good lesson for later. (Wow, that sounds really bad ... )

Haha, well the retirement accounts are a different thing entirely. Others can explain that much better than I can! But I can do mint =P

I think partially it's figuring out what you want to get out of it. If it's just checking individual transactions to avoid mis-charges, you don't have to do much. Personally, I re-categorize everything so I can track categories: groceries and restaurants and bars and so forth. I make a budget category for every category I use that month: ie, this month I have a "home improvement" category, but next month I probably won't. This let's me compare month to month and look at Trends, which is a big reason I like to use Mint. I also have a "Goal" set up, to save for a downpayment, so I can have it "set aside" $2k/month for my goal category, and make sure my budgets plus the goal all fit into the income I've made for that month.

I hope this helps some and I'm not just blabbering! Feel free to ask about anything specifically, and I'll do some screen shots =)

tonysemail

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2015, 05:41:35 PM »
the main thing is to keep expectations low.
IMO, mint hasn't added any useful functionality since they were acquired by quicken.
lots of times the categorization is wrong and they don't seem to improve the algorithm much.

sometimes you have "one off" transactions that you want to exclude from the trend page.
the transfer category is useful for that purpose.
if that doesn't suit you, then you can create a label like "lent money to friend" and exclude all transactions tagged with that label.


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2015, 06:24:23 PM »
Their investment performance page is totally worthless and spits out garbage. Ignore it. Do look into rolling over that 401k, though.

Megma

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2015, 06:44:07 PM »
Ditto on the investment page sucking. Seriously, add your accounts for net worth tracking but don't look at the investments page.

Their math can be a little weird, like only counting budgets into the total and also if you roll budgets over month to month it can get weird. I find it super helpful but it's not perfect. Its also free.

It categorizes my routine expenses very well, if you move something, it more or less remembers for next time except Amazon. I move those around too much and split things so it understandably gets confused.

latinlover77

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 09:05:12 PM »
Investment tracking sucks on mint.com.

I usually use it to merely track spending and charges all within the website instead of going into my individual credit card websites and tediously looking through their limited search functions (the worst is when they require you to look through .pdf statements and you have to manually keep track of certain older expenses).

rubybeth

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 06:35:45 AM »
I've been using Mint for years, and I love it.

A couple things I do:

1) set up smaller goals toward FIRE. For example, this year, I decided what the 'goal' was for the end of December in terms of stash, and I set it to that instead of the longer term FIRE goal. It makes it feel more meaningful that I'm only one month behind 'goal.'

2) Use the 'rollover' feature for budgets where it makes sense. Utilities are an area where you may save in some months, and spend over your budget in others.

use2betrix

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 07:08:57 AM »
Is there a way to make it so when you invest it doesn't show up in your "spent" category? For example, if I dump $5000 into VGENX it goes into my "spent" category. So it looks like I spent $5000 that month, when I really wouldn't consider investing the same as spending the money on consumer products. Right now it shows up in the deposit category under financial. I have my vanguard funds synced so you'd think transferring between accounts wouldn't make a big change. Another example is I just transferred $8000 from an external savings into my checking. Both accounts linked. So now it'll show up as $8000 spent and $8000 received which overall messes up my saved/spent categories.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 07:35:08 AM »
Is there a way to make it so when you invest it doesn't show up in your "spent" category? For example, if I dump $5000 into VGENX it goes into my "spent" category. So it looks like I spent $5000 that month, when I really wouldn't consider investing the same as spending the money on consumer products. Right now it shows up in the deposit category under financial. I have my vanguard funds synced so you'd think transferring between accounts wouldn't make a big change. Another example is I just transferred $8000 from an external savings into my checking. Both accounts linked. So now it'll show up as $8000 spent and $8000 received which overall messes up my saved/spent categories.

I usually just re-categorize as "transfer" - but I'd love to see if anyone has a better way. Mint sometimes gets smart about it and categorizes future purchases the same way

use2betrix

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2015, 07:50:56 AM »
That's still a big help, thank you!!

OmahaSteph

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2015, 08:46:09 AM »
This is all really helpful. I'm in the noob (getting out of debt) stage right now, so I won't be looking at the investing part very much yet, except for the 401(k).

I got confused when it was showing child support as a negative under the "everything else" category when I'm not paying it out, but receiving it, but then I noticed all the other random "income" was also listed with a "-" so ... whatever. I'm pretty sure it's categorized correctly elsewhere because the overall budget looks correct. 

Beaker

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2015, 09:04:18 AM »
You definitely need to watch their categorizations closely, or it will spit out garbage. For instance, move $500 from checking to savings? It picks up the sending and receiving side of that separately, and counts it as a $500 expenditure, and $500 of income, which is just crazy.

Their auto-categorization is also overly aggressive sometimes. Say you deposit a check at an ATM, and then recategorize it as "Gift from Mom". Next time you deposit at that ATM, it will most likely auto-categorize it as the same thing. This also happens when you pay the same company for different things (eg, multiple kinds of insurance through the same company).

I mostly used it for tracking rather than budgeting, and I eventually decided that I prefer doing my own analysis. So I use Mint to aggregate transactions and categorize them, then use the "Export" to dump them all into an Excel sheet that analyzes things the way I want them. Works better for me, by YMMV.

Megma

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Re: Mint: Tips and Tricks
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2015, 09:16:32 PM »
This is all really helpful. I'm in the noob (getting out of debt) stage right now, so I won't be looking at the investing part very much yet, except for the 401(k).

I got confused when it was showing child support as a negative under the "everything else" category when I'm not paying it out, but receiving it, but then I noticed all the other random "income" was also listed with a "-" so ... whatever. I'm pretty sure it's categorized correctly elsewhere because the overall budget looks correct.

You can also set up you own custom category under income to be "child support".


Trixr606, I also Change my savings deposits to a transfer, there are different sub categories for IRA and savings, etc. sometimes, if I just made the transfer it will have it as an expense but I either change it or it I wait longer, it figures it out and fixes it when it's processed fully.