How to Make an Effective Budget in 10 Minutes

Many highly intelligent people keep track of their finances in a makeshift fashion, glancing at statements, half-heartedly filling in spreadsheets, or maybe writing down purchases or other financial information on sticky notes. These budgeting methods are inefficient, inaccurate, and generally don't help a person's long term financial situation. But you can learn how to make a budget and get started in about 10 minutes, and not have to worry about statements, spreadsheets, or sticky notes again. Here's how to do it using Mint.

Simple One-Time Setup

Signing up for Mint requires your email address, the country and zip code in which you live, and a password. You can sign up for Mint in under a minute. Next, it's time to gather your financial information.

Add Accounts

Learning how to budget begins with organizing all your financial accounts. With Mint, you can add your

  • Bank
  • Credit card
  • Home loan
  • Investment

accounts, and it only takes about a minute each. Bear in mind that Mint uses the same 128-bit encryption that banks use, and is monitored by TRUSTe and VeriSign. Furthermore, Mint is "read-only." That means you can track and organize your finances, but neither you nor anyone else can move money around within or among your accounts through Mint. Additionally, Mint can be set up to deliver email and text alerts notifying you if there is unusual account activity or large purchases made on your credit cards, to help stop identity theft in its tracks.

Next step: Sign up for Mint and learn how to make a budget quickly and simply.

Mint Automatically Gathers and Organizes Information for You

Once you've entered your account information, Mint automatically gathers your balances and histories and organizes the information for you within a couple of minutes. No more figuring out from bank and credit card statements how much you spend on groceries, gas, or entertainment. One of the most important steps of learning how to make a budget is tracking exactly where your money goes. Mint makes this step infinitely easier for you.

See All Your Accounts with One Log-In

When you sign up for Mint, you no longer have to log into your bank's website to check your bank account details, log into your credit card company's website to track your credit card purchases, or log into your retirement account website to see how your retirement funds are doing. Rather than spending half an hour logging into all your accounts to monitor them, you can spend five minutes and view all of them in one place.

Install the App on Your Phone for On-the-Go Access

Installing Mint on your phone only takes a couple of minutes. You can get the app for your Android, iPhone, or Windows 8 phone. It syncs with Mint on your computer, so everywhere you go, your budget goes with you. Learning how to make a budget before smartphones meant leaving your budget at home when you went out to buy that new refrigerator or Christmas present. All that has changed with Mint. Check your bank account, credit card balance, or your progress toward your financial goals before you buy that impulse item, and you can save yourself serious buyer's remorse later on.

Create a Budget in One Click Based on Spending History

With Mint, you don't have to understand spreadsheets or accounting to know how to make a budget. Mint starts you out with a basic budget containing standard line items. You can then add custom line items, such as a line item for your daughter's braces or your charitable giving. You can make adjustments to your budget at any time. Sign up for bill alerts and receive texts telling you a few days before bills are due so you won't miss a payment. Create financial goals like saving up for a down payment on a car, and track your progress with Mint instantly. In five minutes or so you can have a basic budget ready to use and customize to your needs.

Most people are never taught how to make a budget, but with Mint there's hardly a learning curve. Within 10 minutes you can set up and start using a budget that can be customized to your needs and adjusted as your situation changes. Install Mint on your smartphone, and you'll never be without the financial information you need to make the smartest money choices short term and long term.

Next step: Sign up for Mint and learn how to make a budget quickly and simply.