Here at iHeartBudgets, I talk about how getting on a budget can free you to spend money on the things you care about and to stop blowing money on stuff you don’t (like Justin Bieber CD’s [wait..does anyone buy CD's anymore…?]). Anyways, my budgeting basics series walks you through the first steps you need to take to get yourself started on a budget and talks about how to set up your finances in such a way that you start giving every dollar an identity. I talked about tracking your income and expenses as part of an exercise to start showing yourself where your money has been going. From there you can then lay out a budget to instruct your money where to go and set goals for yourself to reach. If you haven’t been able to track your expenses or started your budget because it seems too daunting of a task, here’s a tool that might help.
What is Mint.com?
Mint.com is a FREE tool that was developed to help you easily track your money from every account on one page. Here’s the description from their homepage that describes Mint; “Get a handle on your finances the free and fast way. Mint does all the work of organizing and categorizing your spending for you. See where every dime goes and make money decisions you feel good about.” I really like their philosophy that once you see where all of your money is going, you can make decisions about your money that you feel good about. I’ve always said that you can SPEND MORE MONEY on the things you like and SAVE MORE at the same time. But the only way to get there is to get on a budget! Mint can get you started and helps guide you through the process, automatically connecting to your bank and credit card accounts. It will even show all of your transactions and categorize them for you! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! Me, being a super budget nerd, spent hours and hours developing my budget in excel to make sure I could categorize my transactions and Mint comes along with a free tool that does it all automatically! Figures. Oh well, now I have the best of both worlds!
Here are some of the features of Mint.com that can not only help you get started, but will help you grow your money over time:
- Mint can pull your financial information from all of your accounts. This includes things like checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, car loans, mortgage, money market accounts and more.
- Mint has a built in budgeting tool. So after all my talks about budgeting, have you started one yet? Maybe you don’t have the time to write everything out. Well, setting up your budget on Mint.com can take as little as 5 minutes!
- Mint can help you reach your goals. There is a sweet built in goal tracker that helps you pay off debt quicker, invest more and really build your wealth. I just set a “Pay off my loans” goal for my student loans and found out that if I pay $300 a month instead of the $216 minimum I will shave 3 years and over $1200 interest off my total! FLIPPIN’ SWEET!
- Mint has some sweet lookin’ charts and graphs. If you’re a visual person (I am), putting your money into categories and looking at them on a brightly colored graph can put things into perspective very quickly. If you see a big slice of that pie was spent on all you can eat crab night, you can visually tell that you need to cut back on the hard shell face-stuffing.
- It’s seriously really flippin’ easy. You just sign up, add your account and log in just like you would for your online account. AND THAT’S IT! It will pull down your transactions and categorize them right away. Why do the work if they’ll do it for you!
- You can take it with you. Do you have an iPad or Android Tablet? Or an iPhone or Android Phone? Mint has a mobile app for all those devices that allows you to check your accounts and budget while out and about. This is great when you are, say, at the mall and shopping. You check your “gifts” budget, see that you ahve $20 in there, and you can pick something up for your sweety. Or maybe you want to eat out again, but realize you’re “dining out” budget is almost gone. You can save some money by heading home for some sweet home cookin’ instead
- Mint is FREE! Possibly the best reason to use it. I have actually charged people just for my spreadsheet, and this tool comes out and blows mine out of the water, at no cost. Can’t beat that.
And best of all, it’s completely safe. Mint.com is owned by the folks at Intuit, who make this tiny little program called “Turbo Tax.” You may have heard of it, maybe not, I dunno (that’s sarcasm, in case you don’t get sarcasm). But seriously, Mint is solid and I have no qualms about putting my info on Mint.com, and have been doing it for years.
What’s The Holdup?
If you read my blog, or any personal finance blog, or anything about money, or listened to your grandma talk about money, you know that budgeting is a good thing. People don’t just talk about it because it’s a waste of your time. PEOPLE RECOMMEND BUDGETS BECAUSE THEY ARE THE
BEST ONLY WAY TO SPEND YOUR MONEY PROPERLY! So why not take 5 minutes out of your day to change your future? You were going to waste those minutes anyway, watching a youtube video of a dancing banana sing “peanut butter jelly time” over and over again. Might as well go to Mint.com and give budgeting a shot.
Comments: Have you used Mint.com before? How do you like it? If you haven’t, do you have another method of budgeting? I use my spreadsheet for day to day spending, and use Mint for tracking all accounts and net worth. I also watch my investments go up and down (and down again) through mint. Does anyone else have the “Call Me Maybe” song stuck in their head? Well, you do now… . You’re welcome