Welcome to the first installment of quicktips, where we give you tactical skills in tiny bites.  This one will only be relevant to Mint users and is a companion piece to our recent goal-setting episode (which is relevant to every single one of you hoonigans).

So you have been using Mint for 12 months?  Great.  I’ll save you some time in your annual planning retreat.

Open Mint and click over to the ‘Trends’ tab:

Now you should be looking at a pie chart of your expenses by category for either this year or last year, depending on how long you’ve been using Mint.  If you’re reading this in January, you’ll want to look at last year to get a sense for what this year is going to be.

Unlike my made-for-internet redacted version, YOUR charts will be full of numbers. If this pie looks askew to you, double check the categories by clicking a ‘slice’ of the pie.  Then you can dive in and look at the specific transactions.  Your pie won’t look like mine because I make exceedingly strange categorization decisions, and remodeled a house in 2017.

You can play with this view by turning it into a bar chart.  This can be helpful for moving from considering your year proportionally to considering your year in absolute dollar terms (1% of your income on cable TV might not sound too bad until you realize it’s a twelve hundred bucks, for example).

Last item on the quicktip for today – Mint will let you view trends over time as well as snapshots of a time period.  This can be helpful if you’re working to reduce your overall spending, build your net worth (by, say… acquiring income producing assets that will meet the financial needs of generations to come?!), or save up for a purchase.  Just look at the ‘over time’ view.

Again, we endorse Mint as a useful tool but you can take it or leave it.  The goal of this here post was to show you that there is a built in feature useful to you as you plan your year out financially. If you don’t use Mint, no problem, but you will want to think about and create the views of your previous year are helpful to you!