Out of all the different personal finance apps that are available, Mint is one that frequently outshines the competition. Its user-friendly design makes staying on top of your budget a little less frustrating and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free to download.
While Mint seems basic on the surface, there are tons of ways you can use it to get a more complete picture of your finances. MyBankTracker has previously offered up some tips and tricks on how to use Mint and due to the overwhelmingly positive response we got, we’ve decided to dig up a few more creative hacks for managing your money in the new year with this helpful tool.
1. Tweak the dates to track ATM withdrawals and cash
Mint is designed to automatically record transactions made with your debit or credit card; anything else has to be entered manually. If you make regular ATM withdrawals or you rely on cash for everyday spending, it can make keeping tabs on what’s going out a little confusing. You could opt out of tracking the cash altogether by hiding ATM transactions from your budgets but that kind of defeats the purpose of Mint.
If you want to be able to track your cash spending without having it wreak havoc on your budget set up, there’s a pretty simple solution. First, you assign any ATM withdrawals to the “Cash & ATM” category. That way, they won’t show up in your budget. Then, you just alter the date of the ATM transaction to the last day of the month, so you’ll always know how much cash you’ve got on hand.
As you spend your cash, you can split up the transactions to reallocate the money to your various budget categories. Let’s say you take out $100, for example, and spend $30 of it at the grocery store. You’d go to the original withdrawal, click the “Split This Transaction” button and categorize the money you spent under “Groceries.” This allows you to record your cash spending without having to worry about it showing up twice in your budget.
2. Keep account history intact
One of the nice things about Mint is that it’s an all-in-one financial tool, which means you can use it to monitor your spending, keep an eye on your credit card balances and see how your different investment accounts are doing. For instance, you can see what your 401(k) or IRA is worth and even backtrack to gauge their performance over time.
If you end up moving your investments to another brokerage or cashing out one of your accounts, you might be tempted to close it or delete it from Mint altogether, but you shouldn’t be so hasty. Any time you delete an account, whether it’s a mortgage, retirement fund or just a checking account, all of the transactions associated with it disappear. If you ever need to verify a transaction down the road, you won’t be able to access that history.
A better option if you’re changing your accounts around is to deactivate it instead of deleting it altogether. You can do this by going to your Accounts at the top of the page, clicking on the one you want to deactivate and then changing the drop box option to “Closed.” This will keep Mint from updating the account from that point on, but you won’t lose any of your previous transaction information.
3. Filter transactions by date
While Mint offers lots of features and tools to help you manage your money better, there are a few capabilities it lacks. One of the most irksome is the ability to automatically sort your transactions by date. That can be a real pain if you’re trying to pinpoint a specific purchase or you want to be able to view all of your spending for a particular category over a set period of time.
Fortunately, there’s an easy work around to view your transactions by date. If you go to the Transactions page, the URL that displays should be: https://wwws.mint.com/transaction.event. To get information for a specific date range, all you have to do is alter the URL a little by adding a start date and end date.
For instance, if you want to view your holiday spending, you could change the URL to look like this: https://wwws.mint.com/transaction.event?startDate=12/01/2014&endDate=12/31/2014.
Once you change the URL, you just hit enter to refresh the page and display the transactions for the dates you’ve selected. While it would be nice to just be able to click a single button to see your spending by date, this is a fairly uncomplicated fix that works just as well.
4. Verify transactions with tags
Tagging transactions in Mint takes the guesswork out of things like keeping track of your goal progress or grouping expenses for tax purposes. It also comes in handy if you need a way to verify transactions without having to sort through a stack of receipts. All you do is create a tag to identify those expenditures that have been verified, like “Accepted,” “Noted,” “Seen,” whatever is easiest to remember.
Any time a new transaction shows up, you just assign the appropriate tag. If you think you might have overlooked something, you can do a quick search for the tag name, which should highlight those transactions that haven’t been tagged yet.
Using a tag for verification purposes makes record keeping easier but it’s also a good idea if you’re concerned about one of your accounts getting hacked. If you do a tag search and a charge shows up that you don’t recognize, it could tip you off to possible identity theft before the crooks have had a chance to funnel any more money out of your account.