As part of our 10-day series on Total Financial Fitness, we’ve developed six quick workouts, inspired by the popular exercise plan that takes just seven minutes a day. Each will help kick your finances into shape in no time at all. Today: The 7-Minute Spending Tracker
Seven minutes is a little tight to create a budget, but it’s enough to tackle the first step: pulling together all your spending info using a budgeting tool such as Mint. You’ll need your credit and debit cards to get started.
0:00 Surf to Mint.com and register for a free account.
0:42 Mint asks for your credit card providers and bank. As you type in each one, a list of possible matches will pop up. Select the right one and enter the online login and password you use for that account. (Mint is a secure site and cannot get to your money.)
3:02 Mint will need a minute to pull in all of your transactions, which it automatically slots into categories like “Cellphone” and “Groceries.” Problem is, the app doesn’t always get it right. To fix that, click the “Transactions” tab.
3:34 See those “uncategorized” charges? You can select them to choose a correct label. This is pretty tedious, so tick the box that says “always re-categorize X as Y.” That way, Mint will put all future transactions from that retailer in the right place.
5:02 When you did that, you probably also noticed some charges Mint tried to identify but placed into the wrong bucket. Scroll through those and correct them the same way.
6:30 Grab your phone and download the Mint app. Having the program handy will help you keep on top of charges.
7:00 Now you’re ready to click the “Budgets” tab and create a spending plan. For more help with that, check out our Money 101 stories on creating a budget you can stick to and setting financial priorities.
- 10 Days to Total Financial Fitness
- 4 Ways to Hit Your Money Goals
- The Easiest Way to Check Your Credit—Fast
- 5 Ways to Invest Smarter at Any Age
- Day 6: Cut the Fat From Your Budget
- Day 7: Find Ways to Save More
- Day 8: Boost Your Earning Power
- Day 9: Learn How Better Health Can Help Your Finances
- Day 10: Shore Up Your Safety Net