Another question
May 30, 2013 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I know how to use, but I wonder if I'm using it in the right way.

One of the best ways I've found to keep to a budget is that in addition to tracking how much I spend monthly on bills and utilities, I set aside a "rabblerabble cash" and "mrs.rabblerabble cash" amount every month or paycheck. This is spending outside of utilities, planned vacations, etc., and is more for things like, "gee, I feel like blowing $25 on a couple records today." It isn't always literally "cash," though, because I might use my debit or credit card instead, but regardless of whether it's cash or credit it's my walking around money.

After doing spreadsheets for the past two years, I've decided to go back to Mint. It all seems great, except for one problem that has dogged me from the time I started with Mint years back. In the monthly budget function, I can create a category for this spending as I noted above - "rabblerabble cash". But the problem is that everything in that budget category from record store purchases to Dunkin Donuts to is categorized not as "Books" or "Fast Food" but as "rabblerabble cash." Is there some way I can make a budget that has a little flexibility in how my wife and I spend our cash but still keep Mint's categories? I'm morbidly curious for example how much money I spend eating out, but that's difficult to track because sometimes it's correctly categorized while other times it's listed in my "cash" category.

Also: I like to use my credit card as much as possible to get miles and rewards, so I'm not particularly interested in just pulling out $60 in cash every paycheck. That's a great idea but not one that works for me in this situation.

I guess my main question for Mint users is: how do you track your own discretionary spending without compromising the categories?
posted by RabbleRabble to Work & Money (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Books:Work, Books:Fun (or) Food:Necessary, Food:Junk

It still won't automatically categorize transactions properly if you use the same payees for both categories, but you can at least see a report that includes the different categories.
posted by epanalepsis at 12:56 PM on May 30, 2013

Can you use the tag function within Mint for your walking around money? That would require you to do it manually, I believe, and it wouldn't be included in Mint's budget tracking (AFAIK) but that would allow you to categorize a transaction two different ways.
posted by MadamM at 1:10 PM on May 30, 2013

Response by poster: @MadamM: I've thought about using the tag function, but you're right -- it wouldn't show up in my monthly budgeting function

Let's say I have a monthly budget of $75 for dining out with my wife and we spend the $75 over the course of the month. But I've also used my own discretionary money to buy a few lunches for $25. That would take our monthly dining budget over by $25. The only other option I see is for me to create a category under "Entertainment: RabbleRabble Cash" and categorize my lunches that way. But when I look at the big picture I don't get a good sense of just how much money goes into eating out because the spending money category hides a lot of things.

I might just be asking Mint to do something it isn't capable of, but I appreciate the suggestions so far.
posted by RabbleRabble at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2013

My wife and I solved this problem by taking our personal money completely out of Mint. Each of us have an account at the local CU that gets 200 dollars month deposited automatically. Mint doesn't know or care about this money, and we are free to spend this money as we wish(but once it's gone, its gone). We do our joint budgeting as if it didn't exist- the same as the automatic contributions to retirement accounts.

The only annoying thing is when we buy something personal with a shared credit card and then have to pay things back. Every once in a while we also cheat and loan extra money to ourselves (which then has to be paid back). We have a first of the month day of reckoning to figure all these things out.
posted by rockindata at 1:39 PM on May 30, 2013

I thought that the point of allocating walking around money is that you don't have to categorize it. You wouldn't add your extra lunches in to "eating out" category, because that was your discretionary money and you can do anything you want with it.
posted by CathyG at 2:48 PM on May 30, 2013

Building on CathyG's suggestion, would it make sense to ignore the RabbleRabbleCash transactions entirely when budgeting? Any individual transaction can be excluded from Mint (it's at the bottom of the list when you go to change a transaction category), and then the only things that would remain in, for example, the Dining budget would be your joint dining expenses, as defined by normal transaction rules.
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 8:32 PM on May 30, 2013

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