From all the apps on my phone, Mint is probably the most useful and helpful — besides my period tracker and Starbucks of course. After I put my predetermined savings from my paycheck into a separate account, I have to spread my money out to suit all aspects of my budget. I've always had trouble with this since capitalism has basically ruined me.


After I save the desired amount for rent and utilities, Mint gives me the option to budget out my money to groceries, transportation and other miscellaneous expense. But if you love planning every little detail like me, there are a few tips and tricks to personalize the Mint app even more

Tag your transactions

You probably noticed how Mint tagged your interactions into separate categories. However, you probably want to tag them yourself to find them a bit easier. Tap the "add tags" option when you open the details of an interaction to tag them.

You can also add notes if you need to like "Call store about refund" or "Don't spend your money on dumb stuff."

Split your transactions

When I go somewhere like a convenience store, I won't just buy pharmacy items. Stuff like candy and coffee would go under "Food and Drink" instead. When you tap on an interaction, there should be an upper right hand corner button called "Split." You can split the transaction into however many categories with however much you want in them.

Doing this will ensure that you don't overspend in one category while another one suffers the consequences.

Put in cash transactions

Cash is king! Even though many modern food trucks and merchant stands have incorporated technology into their sales, cash is still the most universally accepted currency. Be sure to log your cash transactions and any other transaction that doesn't show up on your card or bank account.

To do so, tap the small plus sign on the upper righthand corner. Enter in the amount you spent, the merchant and the expense. Categorize, tag and date the transaction and save it to your budget.

Add budgets

I'm sure your entire budget isn't split up into a few basic categories. By tapping the plus sign again on the "Budgets" tab you can add a budget that isn't on there already. For example, every Christmas I make a gifts budget so I can show my love without breaking bank.

Don't get cluttered though — too many labels and budgets will overwhelm and stress you out. Make broader categories whenever you can.

Ignore ads

Mint presumably uses offers from advertisers to stay in business and that's completely fine except that they can get annoying and clutter up your overview. By tapping the options button on the ads, you can ignore all of them until the entire section goes away. You're welcome.

Do more with the website

Mint.com is the app's official website and will — of course — include more options than the app does. If you decide to go online, you'll get more out of your budgeting and savings experience along with setting long term goals.

You can send alerts to people that share your financial situation like spouses, roommates or friends that owe you money. If you're on the app, you can set up notifications and bill reminders using the "Bill" option.

Mint isn't the only app out there to track your expenses, but it works for me. It's got a simple, clean interface and doesn't use big accounting words that I don't understand. So if you're a broke college kid trying to get out of a rut or an disorganized adult dealing with a lot of bills, take the Mint app out for a spin.
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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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