When I first began playing close attention to my spending habits and budget I used a good ol’ pen and paper. I would write down every single purchase over the course of a month, and add it up as I went along.
Did it work? Yes. Was it hard? Yes.
Some days I forgot to write down purchases I made, leaving me with extra information to input as the undocumented purchases accumulated.
And then…I found mint.
You may have seen mint commercials, advertisements on Facebook, or advertisements wherever else advertisements show up. Here is one:
And maybe you are skeptical of trusting a website or app to track your finances, but I will only share with you my opinion and experience with mint.
However, here is an article from the New York Times that goes into whether you should trust mint or not.
Let me explain to you how mint works for me on a more personal level. There is both an online version, and an app version. Mint links to your bank account, and every time you make a purchase, or get a paycheck, it records it. It can categorize purchases into different categories which you are able to choose yourself depending on your lifestyle. For example, I have a category for bills, restaurants, and groceries among others. The list of categories is quite extensive and detailed if you like to be more detailed than that.
Mint allows you to set budgets under each category at the start of every month. This works out great, because as you make purchases, it inputs them into your budget, does the hard math stuff for you, and you can now tell at all times where you stand on your budget.
It looks somewhat like this:
It is even pleasing to eye, isn’t it? The graphs will turn red when you are close to reaching any spending limits.
Mint also will sync any bills, and send you reminders of upcoming bills. Kudos mint.
I recently discovered this, but in the online version of mint, you can even get help figuring out how to save. You can choose what you are saving for, for example a trip somewhere. You input for how many people, how many days, how soon (it allows you estimate what hotels will cost, airfare, food, etc.), hit enter, and BAM. Mint tells you how much you need to save a month to reach your goal.
Once again, Genius mint.
I’ve tried different apps, and programs to help me stay on top of my finances, but by far mint is the most helpful, convenient, and simple. Oh, not to mention it is free. That is always a plus. Who wants to pay for a budget app?