Setting Up Financial Goals

January 2, 2014
3 Minute Read

So as part of my goals for 2014, I want to buy a house.

Buying a house means you need to save up money for a down payment. Saving money means limiting your expenses. Limiting your expenses means budgeting and that is where we begin. I've been using a spreadsheet for the past 2 years to help with this and it's done a decent job. I played around with Mint a while back, but could never get the hang of it enough to really utilize it. This year, I figure I'd try again.

For some reason Mint can no longer connect and sync with my bank account (which I am now locked out of, so I need to call them…sigh) and it's handling of budgets & categories still seems clunky. I decided to budget money for "fun", which could include trips to the movies, dinners, etc. Mint wants to put them all over the place in different categories and it doesn't really seem easy to group them all together for my budgeting goals since some months might be more movie heavy while the next might be more 'out-to-dinner' heavy. As far as I see them, they're both in the same group but I'm having to go into each transaction to adjust them.

The other complaint I have is goals. I'm sure the goals they have defaulted work fine. I, however just want a simple, "I want to save $X a month" and it is so difficult to configure. I can go into the custom goals, but even this is not set up nicely. It wants me to set up a saved goal so I set that to $X x 12, but then it takes into account how much money is already in the savings account…it's a complete mess for what I want. What I want is a monthly recurring goal, that takes into account the money moved from checking into savings, being completely ignorant to what is already in savings. Just track the money moved. In the end, I just added my savings goal as a budget line-item and got rid of the goals altogether.

I really don't know if I'll be sticking with Mint as it really seems to be completely off for what I want. I'm sure they're great for some people, but for me I feel like it's so much extra work to get it to be the tool I'm looking for.

Do you use Mint or is there another tool you'd recommend as an alternative?