Budgets and Goals on Mint.com Part II

In my previous post, I discussed using Mint.com to track outgoing and incoming cash, categorizing line items on the Transactions menu, and integrating these items with Budgets. The topic of this post is Mint's Goals.

To set up a goal, click the Goals tab, select one of the predefined goals or a custom goal, and answer the questions as prompted, such as source of funding, target date for reaching that goal, desired monthly contribution, etc. Each goal should be linked to an account so that Mint can track the balance and report on your progress. The Goals function is a particularly good fit for the situation I addressed in my previous post, paying off a credit card balance you are carrying.

The difficulty some have experienced with Goals on a Budget is that while Mint can reduce your projected monthly net income by the goal contribution amount, the goal amount is not linked to any Budget payment. This means that there is no indication on the Budgets tab whether a payment was actually made towards a goal in a month and no goal contributions appear on any report of expenses, net income, etc. If you create a budget item for the goal amount, the contribution toward the goal will essentially be double counted on the Budget.

The workaround for this is to add the goal amount as a budget item and exclude the goal amount from the Budget calculation. This is done by clicking on the Budgets tab, scrolling down to the goal, clicking Edit Details, and opting to exclude part or all of the goal amount from the budget calculation. This is also the appropriate way to treat a goal where the funding for that Goal comes from an account that is not linked to Mint. For example, if you set a retirement goal, employer contributions to a retirement plan would never appear as income, so that monthly goal contribution should be excluded from your budget calculation.

In summary, in order to set Goals, categorize transactions, and establish Budgets in Mint and have your reports provide accurate information, the key is to focus on each account type and the unique interaction each account has, if any, with other accounts being tracked by Mint.


This was extremely helpful, and I could not find/understand the info from anywhere else. I thought I was fairly intelligent but could not figure out what to do for items between loan, CC, checking, and savings accounts. Transfers confused me, and your article lets me see them as what they are. I also did not realize how goals interacted with the budget. I think I have Mint setup correctly now, and even the Mint outputs (analysis) makes mores sense now. Thanks again.