I have been using Mint.com to track my finances and help keep me on track with my zero based budget for a while now. Mint shows your spending as three colors according to how well you are sticking to the budget.

  • Green means you are way below budget
  • Yellow means you are getting near your budget limit
  • Red means you have gone over the budget limit

I am also tracking my spending in a spreadsheet and I was surprised to see that even when I was within the budget on the spreadsheet I would sometimes have Red categories in Mint. I finally realized today that I was classifying returns incorrectly in Mint. Mint has a few preset categories that you can click on and returned purchases were listed as a subset of Income so I had been using that as the category. Well this meant that if I bought $10 worth of items and returned $2, my spreadsheet was showing $8 spent but Mint was showing $10 and $2 Income. This was forcing my graph to turn red even though I had gotten refunds and the red was making me nervous.

I figured out that if I classified the return/refund as the same category of the original spending then Mint would have a graph that matched my actual spending and my graph. I changed the two returns that I had for the month and hopefully if I have any more returns I can match them up correctly and will not have any more red graphs in Mint.