I wrote a tool that will take Mint’s transaction history and make it into super pretty Sankey diagrams. You can check it out on GitHub here: https://github.com/bradysalz/mint-sankey
Don’t want to RTFM? It takes a CSV file, group by category to give you this:
Wages  Federal Income Tax Wages  Social Security Wages  Take Home Take Home  Hotel Take Home  Misc Take Home  Savings
and then makes plots like this:
I realized I sincerely needed a budget. I was a classic “too afraid to check my bank account” person who was just making
$X and spending
$Y and hoping it turned out alright. Even when
$Y went up a massive amount due to paying back student loans, it was still not something I ever bothered to check. I finally made myself sit down and do something about it, which originally meant going through my Mint transactions.
It turns out that Mint is great as a free tool but not much more. I spend a lot of money for work (and expense it, of course), and it’s basically impossible to separate those two. It also is shockingly dumb about simple things - if I have a checking account and credit card account, it will always make two transactions, one for the withdrawal and one for the payment. That’s fine, but getting those two to “cancel out” was impossible! Mint works great for pulling transactions and labeling them all, but that’s as much as I’m willing to give it
Reddit has some great budget plots on /r/DataIsBeautiful which I’ve been super jealous of. The tool I wrote will pre-process the Mint data into a form that plays well with those plots (Sankey Diagrams). It’s not 100% done yet, but it’s gotten to a point where I can plot my cash flow each month and see if I’m missing anything. Already this tool has pointed out a few major work transactions that I forgot to expense, so it’s safely sitting on top of my “most $ value per unit time” list.