Once I finally decided to stop ignoring my finances and take control, I knew I needed a little assistance. Okay, a lot of assistance. It turns out, ignoring your bills does not in fact make them go away.
Not at all.
But how do you know where to begin?
For me, it was pretty simple. Start where I was. Figure out the total amount I owed, and the total amount I saved. It was no surprise to me that I owed more than I had, but when I input my finances into Mint, I did learn a few things.
- I had been paying $89 per month (!) for some service on my credit card I didn’t need. Actually, let me take a moment to say that there are no services on credit cards that you need. This was some sort of job-loss protection something or other. No way, friends! Don’t do it!
- I had been putting $200 a month toward an IRA. I honestly did not remember doing this. It’s funny to look back now, because the 2013 Kathleen knows exactly where her money is going (especially $200 a month!) but the head-in-the-sand Kathleen preferred not to pay attention.
- Because I hadn’t been paying attention, all of my IRA money was sitting in “cash reserves” which means it hadn’t been invested. I was initially irritated by that, but then I realized that I’d been out of the market when people lost half their portfolios.
The moral of this story is, don’t be like me. Try one or two of these 10 money management tools. Most of them are free. All of them are great ways to visualize where your money is going every month.