Never was it so important to get a handle on my finances as when I was divorced. There were no cushions anywhere if we were going to make this two-home arrangement work. From that point on, I’ve been a Nazi about keeping track of my expenses. Thank goodness there’s an app for that: Mint.com.
Before Mint, I hacked together a system that worked for me on an Excel spreadsheet. The plus of that was that I knew exactly what I was looking for in terms of a software solution. I needed/wanted:
- to be able to categorize my spending
- to automatically track all the ways I spend (credit cards, cash, checks)
- to be able to see how I am doing in each category versus my budget for that category, whenever I want
- to see how I’m doing overall for the month
- to have budgets roll over from month to month
- to be alerted if I am over budget
Mint does all these things PLUS being able to do them conveniently from my phone… let’s say, while I’m at target and not sure how I’m tracking with the Household Supplies category.
In addition to all that, Mint also lets you set goals like saving for a vacation or a college fund. You can designate a separate bank account to track and it will show you how you are doing versus the timeline you designate for that goal.
Mint keeps track of trends — your spending by category month to month or versus year ago or versus average for other cities or the average for the country! I know, it’s geeky but I’m a sucker for stuff like this.
Here’s another excellent feature: Mint suggests ways for you to save money. Since it keeps track of trends, I’ll get friendly reminders like, “You spend a lot on gas. Get 5% cash back on gas purchases….”
Did I mention it’s pretty? Yes, it’s that designer in me that likes the visual cues. So both on the iPhone app and online, I get great information graphics red-yellow-green that tell me where I stand.
Nothing like a little Red Light, Green Light to whip you into shape.
photo credit: stock xchng