It’s no secret: I absolutely love Mint.com. For years, I’ve used it to track my accounts and purchases. And on several occasions, it’s alerted me to some nasty unknown fees.
Needless to say, I’m a big fan. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not using Mint.com to its full potential. That’s why I was so excited to get a copy of Tim Murphy’s guide, The Mint Manual: A shortcut to mastering and saving money with Mint.com.
How to Use Mint.com The Mint Manual
Tim’s created a step-by-step guide that will help you save tons of time setting up Mint.com – and making sure it’s working efficiently and effectively for your budget and all of your devices.
The Mint Manual includes everything you need to get started with Mint.com or to perfect your Mint.com usage: cheat sheets, screenshots, tips and tricks and detailed examples fill the pages of Tim’s extremely useful guide. I had the chance to interview Tim about what inspired him to create the manual and to give my readers some insider tips for using Mint.com
Introducing Tim Murphy!
1. So Tim, what inspired you to create The Mint Manual in the first place?
There were two sources of inspiration for writing The Mint Manual. First, I read about Brett Kelly’s e-book Evernote Essentials, where he basically says that Evernote is great but most people don’t really use it to its full potential. So he put together a guide that helped people leverage all the utility that Evernote has to offer.
That got me thinking about what other apps were similarly under-utilized and Mint was an obvious choice. I’ve been a Mint users since Mint can do SO MUCH but I think its biggest problem, or what creates the most challenges, is that the basics are so easy. Getting up and running is a snap, so users are never really forced to learn about everything Mint can (and can’t) do. As a result, you get a lot of people who create a profile, add financial accounts, see a bunch of graphs and data, and think that’s it. Those are the people who end up forgetting about their account and never really see the benefits Mint can offer. I was looking to cure that under-use.
The second source of inspiration was related to the first. Gary Vaynerchuck posted a video where he was talked about Twitter and how most people, even active Twitter users, don’t really know shit about Twitter. For example, he notes that “most people – even at tech conferences” didn’t know that if you @reply someone, only the people who follow you AND the person you’re replying to will see the message. It was a great reminder that, even with crazy popular apps like Twitter, we often know things that other people just don’t know. It made me confident that I could add a lot of value to Mint users – both beginner and pro.
[Editor confession: I didn’t know that about Twitter for awhile either!]
2. How did you learn all your tricks for using Mint.com that you’ve included in your guide?
I’ve been a Mint users for about five years, and I learned Mint through extensive testing of each platform – web app, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Android tablet. I realized that one of the biggest sticking points for me was not knowing what I could or couldn’t do on the mobile apps (The Mint Manual is an awesome primer on this, btw). Could I create budgets or set categorization rules on my iPhone? Were the iPad and web app identical? I basically set to work answering all those questions and learned a ton of tricks and short cuts along the way.
I also come from the small business world, so I know enterprise accounting programs like Quickbooks pretty well. As a result, I know what Mint is trying to do with certain budget or accounting tools, even when it’s not totally obvious to non-accountants or business people.
3. How is The Mint Manualuseful for both long-term Mint.com users and folks newer to Mint.com?
Most Mint users, even long time users, use Mint for basic budgeting and expense tracking. That’s fine, but there’s so much more (like Mint for tax preparation or shopping)! The Mint Manual serves as a short-cut to mastering the basics (like categorization, which is kind of the key to it all) but also utilizing more advanced features like tagging, exporting as a .csv file, or setting savings goals.
For the new (or even “relapsed”) Mint users, it’s simple. The Mint Manual saves you a ton of time on trial-and-error, which is really the only other way to learn Mint (that’s what I had to do). But trial-and-error is terribly slow and inefficient. I wanted to create a “cheat sheet” to help users learn Mint quickly and easily.
4. If you could give someone one tip about managing their finances on Mint.com, what would it be?
Categorize with caution. Creating and assigning categories affects everything in Mint – trends, budgets, overall spending habits, reminders – so sloppy categories will bring your whole organization down. There’s an old saying “Garbage in, garbage out” (actually the subtitle of my chapter on categorization) meaning that poor inputs will create poor outcomes, and categorizations in Mint are a perfect example of this. Disciplined and consistent categorization in Mint is critical.
Another basic but very powerful trick when using the web app is: right-click, open in new tab. Any time you want to drill down from something general to something more specific (like from a Category down to a Sub-category, or a budget down to related transactions), always right click and open in a new tab. That will allow you to open up a category and see transactions without losing your place in the original tab. Super simple, but a huge time-saver.
If you’re looking to start managing your finances with Mint or bump up your budgeting skills you already have, The Mint Manual is a great place to start. Click on the image below to download your digital copy!
Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to write this review and I did receive a free copy of The Mint Manual to personally read and review (and now use in my daily life!). Thanks again Tim for creating such a great guide!
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