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How to Use to Understand Your Personal Finances

Updated on December 4, 2012 Stay Connect to your Personal Finances

Use to Improve Your Understanding of your Personal Finances

There are many different solutions that a person can use to keep track of their expenses, even just using a basic online banking account gives an individual a look into there expenses in a different perspective that can point out areas where you can better manage your money.  However, the platform provided by is a superb way for any individual that needs to track several different bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial information including stock investment accounts and retirement funds.  The Mint user interface is easy to understand and grasp and is quick to pick up.  You load in your bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial accounts and data and it will quickly gather all of the data and place them into your accounts and begin displaying the information to you in several forms including easy to read and understand tables and graphs.  Just looking at the money in vs. the money out graph in the lower left hand side of the main page gives you a very good understanding of your monthly cash flow and whether you are net ahead in terms of savings each month or actually going deeper into debt that month.  

The following review goes into some ways to better utilize the features so that you can use the tool to gain a better understanding of your personal finances.  The basics of mint,com gives the financial rookie many great tools to learn about their personal income and expenses as well as having the depth of service to provide financial wizards an easier way to manage their current households finances and plan for the future. Overview

Personal Budget Tracking

Set your budget and track your financial performance

At the core of the Mint solution to tracking your personal finances and becoming a better saver and investor is the personal budgeting tool. This is a great tool for assisting you to set a proper budget based on your income and regular monthly expenses. If you can set a budget and stick to it for the course of the month you can make sure that you have net gain by the end of the month. Always make sure when setting your budget that you can be saving money to go towards one of your savings goals or at least building up a safety net of anywhere from 3 - 8 months worth of your basic budget including your mortgage or rent.

When setting up your budget you can use several preset categories such as Home for your rent or mortgage payment, utilities for all your home bills, and food as well as transportation and gasoline all standard items apart of every person's family budget. Then there are many other categories and subcategories that are available.

The main categories available to choose from when selecting your budget include the following list.

Mint Tracking categories

Auto & Transport
Bills & Utilities
Business Services
Fees & Charges
Food & Dining
Gifts & Donations
Health & Fitness
Personal Care

Track your expenses and understand your financial trends

Analyze your spending habits through Mint Trends

Using the same set of main categories and sub categories the Mint financial software creates great looking graphs of your personal spending based on the items.  You can get a great picture of where you are spending the most month a regular basis.  While for most people the largest portion of their bills will revolve around their home, utilities, and such, it can give you a great picture of where you spend all the rest and makes you think of ways to spend more wisely.

Setting up unique categories as well can help you track specific expenses.  I use a boat a lot and so then once the charge for filling up the boat at the gas station is registered I change that to the category of Boat Gas so that I can monitor my gas expenses each month for fishing.

Stock Investment and Retirement Funds Monitoring

Watch your Stock Investments and Retirement Accounts

The Mint personal finance online tool has a great dashboard for looking at all of your stock investment accounts and retirement accounts.  Enter you account information just like your online banking information or credit cards and you can see the ups and downs of your investments on a daily basis.  Review your individual accounts performance against the market in general either the Dow or the S&P 500 to see if your investments are beating the market averages.  If you have multiple accounts the tool will also aggregate your total success or failure in the market and give you a performance report for the time period that you have selected to view, either the day, week, month, several months, or year.

Set your Goals and Find Additional Ways to Save Money

Set your goals and utilize tools to save even more

The Mint software has a great tool set up to quickly help you plan for a variety of different major purchases that you may be facing in your life.  Whether you need to save up money for a standard purchase like a car or you are planning on getting married or you just want to spend 10 days at the beach enjoying some time off on a well deserved vacation.  The Goals section helps you identify the amount of money you will need to save each month to meet your goal of going to Hawaii, by next Christmas or planning to buy a townhouse in 2 years with a substantial down payment.  

By utilizing the budget tool provided and by monitoring your trends such as how much discretionary spending you are making will help you learn how to save the required money to meet your desired goal.  However sometimes there are things you can do to maximize your efforts. can analyze the current services you use such as which bank savings account you have or what credit cards you are using and what the balances are on those cards and make recommendations that you can sign up for to reduce your interest rates or find a high interest savings account or CD that is better than the one you currently have.  This Way to Save to really helps you find the best deals at the moment so that when you are saving money you are able to maximize it by getting the best interest rate and on the expense side if you are using a credit card for purchases that you are keeping your interest rate low so that you can focus on paying the principle down sooner.

Financial Management from your iPhone or Android Phone

Choose a Financial Management Software with a Mobile Solution

It is very important when choosing a platform to use to monitor your finances that the company has a strong presence on smart phones. It is very convenient to be able to use your iPhone with a Mint application that lets you check up on your most recent purchases and see your bank account information. The Mint app also lets the user receive alerts like if your bank account is getting low you can receive an alert or when there is a big purchase or you are over your set budget for a specific category that you have set up.

The mobile phone app does not have all of the features as the full online browser based solution, however it provides you the necessary screenshot you need into your financial life to make sure your finances are sound and will not have any surprises the next time you log onto your online banking account or credit card account.


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    • wjlambert profile image

      Wes Lambert 4 years ago from Sunnyvale

      w00t! glad to see another fellow user. I truly appreciate Mint and have been using it since it debuted. Makes my finances a cake walk

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Nice advice for using Mint. Taking control of your finances is obviously huge!