The word budget used to have a bad connotation for me . . . . it was practically a dirty word. I used to feel that if I was budgeting I was either broke or being a cheapskate. It sounded like a diet . . . a constriction on the pleasures of shopping such as food diets can be on the pleasures of eating.
In reality, though, budget just means you have a plan for your money and you stick to that plan. I wish I had discovered this before I stopped working. I thought I was pretty cool because I never “had” to balance my check book. I thought that the fact that I didn’t worry about running out of money meant I was using it and saving it wisely. Well let me tell you, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Once I stopped working and our family income got cut by about 40%, budget became the magic word. I was forced to look at our assets and debts very closely. I honestly wish I had taken the time to do that sooner. Had I done so, we would probably be debt free now, be close to really owning our house, and so many other things.
It got quite overwhelming to try to understand our spending, income, savings, debts, etc. . . . . until I started using a nifty little budgeting tool. You may have heard of it; I know I did years ago and barely decided to start using it. It’s called Mint.
This little piece of free software has been my secret tool in figuring out our family finances. I’m so thankful for it!
How Mint Works
Mint is your personal financial manager. It is a free on-line service that brings all your financial accounts into a single location for easy viewing and managing. This includes bank accounts, loans, and investments. You see every money deposit and money withdrawal that affects your overall finances in one convenient location.
Mint shows you the big picture of where your money is coming from and where it is going. Every money transaction can be categorized so that you can visually see on a pie graph where your money is going and coming from. It will even remind you that a bill will be due soon so you aren’t late and get stuck with a finance charge.
You can set financial goals on Mint, which it will hold you to and constantly update you on your progress. Let’s say you want to spend less money on eating out. You set up a budget for yourself and Mint will keep track of how much money you spent on restaurants. You will be alerted that you have surpassed your budget and by how much.
Furthermore, Mint is a financial advisor. It recommends financial products and services based on your spending habits and saving goals. These are always categorized in order of savings.
Mint is secure. It uses the same fancy encryption and physical security as banks with all the monitoring and verification that goes with it (check out their webpage). Plus, it is a “read only” system which means transactions cannot be made through it. Top that with alerts that you get by e-mail or phone text on large transactions or unusual changes.
It’s Budget Friendly FREE
Mint is free! Mint makes unbiased recommendations on ways you can save money such as loans, credit cards, insurance, etc. They get paid a small fee by the bank or company you decide to switch over to for making the referral.
And in case you were wondering, I don’t make money by recommending it 🙂 I just think it’s awesome! It’s helped me tons, so I thought it might help you too. So hurry now and open your Mint account, it only takes 5 minutes.