Budgeting Made Simple
Having your account transactions properly categorized (see Lesson 7, "Categories") is a major benefit when it's time to create a budget with Mint.com. For most people, budget seems to be a bad word, but many Mint.com users insist it's one of the best features of Mint.com because it allows you to better understand where your money is going month-to-month and year-to-year.
Mint.com allows you to create a personal budget to put into practice. You then use the Budgets tool to accurately track your spending and see where changes can or should be made. After your budget is up and running, you can try out various "what if" scenarios by changing values here and there to see short-term and long-term effects on your accounts and your goals (covered in Lesson 9, "Goals").
As you saw in Lesson 7, logging in to Mint.com provides you with a basic budget that has already been populated with your spending history. Figure 8.1 shows Mint.com's best guess as to what my budget values would be for categories such as groceries, clothes, fuel, and more.
Figure 8.1 Mint.com's Overview page has a budget that is likely incorrect from the start.
Look closely at Figure 8.1 and you can see that Mint.com is telling me I've already reached my monthly coffee budget limit of $10 (and it's only May 10, 2011—I have 20 days left). It has also budgeted $990 for groceries; I don't know about you, but I rarely ever come close to spending $600 a month on groceries. So there's some obvious work for me to do here with the Budget tool.