Monday, February 12, 2018

Getting Our Budget Under Control

I've been sharing that Matt and I have some credit card debt that we want to actively pay down. As part of that, we have been trying to religiously use I've heard great things about You Need a Budget as well, but we are already all set up with, so we are sticking with it and trying to maximize our experience with it. 

One of the annoying things about is that it won't let you delete the budget categories that you aren't using. When it automatically assigns expenditures to categories, it frequently assigns them to categories that we aren't even using in our budget. When that happens, our budget looks like it's on track, but it isn't really.

While it's frustrating that I can't just delete the categories that we don't have budgets for, I did learn that you can click a button to generate a rule that always assigns certain stores into certain categories. For example, there's a popular restaurant here in Austin called P.Terry's. always categorizes it as "Fast Food" (it is fast food), but we don't use the Fast Food Budget. Instead, we code all of our eating out expenses as "Restaurants." I was able to go into Mint and tell it to always code P.Terry's as "Restaurants." 

While that will help with some of our recurring expenses, I came up with a hack to help us with the rest. I printed our list that correlates our Mint categories with which expenses are budgeted there (see an excerpt of the image above). For example, we spend money on parking so infrequently that it doesn't have its own budget category. Instead, we lump it into the Gas & Fuel category (along with tolls, which are also infrequent). Mint automatically codes parking as parking, so we have to reassign the category. It's hard to remember these infrequent things, so having a list for Matt and one for me should be helpful! 

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